Being Lean From the Ground Up
As is the case with most medical device contract manufactur- ers, Singapore-based Forefront Medical Technology strives to develop a culture committed to world-class manufacturing. But most companies, however, develop their own approaches
and internal processes to achieving manufacturing goals.
Forefront, which focuses on disposable diagnostic, drug infusion and medical device systems, has a simple metric it uses to
achieve its Lean manufacturing objectives: Customers drive the
key performance indicators and must see a cost benefit.
Achieving that goal requires a holistic focus on quality and efficiency, since cost reduction is achieved through faster product devel-opment cycles, optimized tooling and automation strategy, robust supply chain management, manufacturable products, superior quality and
efficient logistics. It’s not surprising that Lean manufacturing principles
are used as a foundation for this effort. These Lean principles came into
play as the company looked to broaden its footprint abroad.
Location, Location, Location
Where to set up shop, particularly in today’s challenging market
is no small task. When the decision was made to build a new fac-
tory in the city of Changzhou in the southern Jiangsu province
of China, the company’s management team decided to integrate
Lean principles in the overall facility and business process design.
The Jiangsu location was chosen, in part, because of its location in
one of China’s“green” economic zones. Companies in this zone
are subject to more stringent regulation in terms of environmen-
tal regulations, and worker health and safety practices. The goal
was to build a factory that excelled in terms of the health of its
manufacturing and corporate citizenship, since contract manu-
facturers have become extensions of their customers’reputations.
Jiangsu also provided both logistical and tactical advantages.
The facility is located in the Jiangsu Wujin Economic Zone in the
West Taihua Lake International Medical Industrial Park, which is
in close proximity to medical clusters in Shanghai and Suzhou.
There is a globally renowned sterilizer in Suzhou and a China
Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) office in the park. The
park is located within approximately 16 miles of local air and seaports, and it’s near the Yanjiang highway, which is the one of the
Learning from one company’s perspective on creating a Lean manufacturing
culture across multinational facilities.
Daniel Benze • Contributing Writer