As a manufacturer of medical equipment for people with reduced mobility, ArjoHuntleigh is focused on making patients’ lives easier. Its products include medical beds, disinfection systems, hygiene systems and patient transfer solutions. Each product and solution aims to reduce unnecessary costs by preventing adverse events that impact patients and caregivers.
With 5,300 employees worldwide, ArjoHuntleigh serves the needs of acute and long-term care providers in more than 100 countries. As part of its mission to be a world leader in integrated solutions for care of people with reduced mobility and related conditions, the company realizes that every operation – not just product development – plays a vital role.
“We are focused on ‘Preventing the Preventable.’ Our products and services focus on preventing unnecessary pressure ulcers, blood clots, patient falls and caregiver injuries,” CEO Alex Meyers explains. “We prevent pain and discomfort for patients, back injuries for healthcare staff and unnecessary cost for the healthcare sector. A lot of what we do is preaching efficiency toward our customers, and we constantly strive to do the same with our processes and supply chain.”
Doing More With Less
In recent years, ArjoHuntleigh has focused on delivering the same great products with fewer resources. The company recently restructured itself in a manner that promotes the elimination of waste and increased efficiency by closing 10 of its plants.
Today, Sweden-based ArjoHuntleigh operates its largest plant in Poland, two plants in China, one plant in Canada and a specialized diagnostics plant in Wales. It also operates a distribution center in Holland and one in Chicago, which both carry spare parts. The finished goods mainly are delivered directly to the customer from the individual manufacturing plants.
The company has managed to reduce its manufacturing footprint in the midst of recent acquisitions and mergers. The ArjoHuntleigh of today is the result of a major 2007 merger between ARJO and Huntleigh Technology PLC. This combination created one globally leading company with a comprehensive product portfolio and service offering.
Since then, the company has completed two strategic acquisitions, both last year. It acquired Chinese bed manufacturer Acare – strengthening its offering in emerging markets. It also acquired the therapeutic support systems division from KCI, creating a true world leader in supplying products designed for the prevention and treatment of pressure ulcers.
“As a company, we have truly transformed from a collection of many local and regional entities to a truly global organization with a common vision to improve the lives of patients and caregivers by preventing what we describe as ‘never-events’ within healthcare – unnecessary accidents or conditions that may occur in patients with reduced mobility,” Meyers says. “As part of this common, global vision, we have one portfolio of products and services and have a global view on our supply chain.”
ArjoHuntleigh’s supply chain is now focused on four major aspects: reducing its plant footprint, finding the right suppliers, reducing working capital and using lean techniques to eliminate waste.
“Getting the companies to be under one structure and one supply chain after the 2007 merger was a relatively smooth process, after an initial period of reorganization and realignment around the new strategy,” says Goran Gustafson. “It continued after 2007 but it’s been more or less finalized in this last year. There were also acquisitions done at the end of last year and those too we integrated into our structure. The acquisition of TSS, a division of KCI, went very smoothly. It was done in a very controlled way that focused on complete integration into the supply chain.”
Gustafson is a former supply chain manager for Arjo Huntleigh. He currently manages the supply chain for one of its sister divisions. He says the company has already made strides to create a leaner operation.
“Although we’ve reduced our manufacturing footprint, we’ve focused on creating more robust plants that get more done and attract high-quality people,” Gustafson says. “When it comes to maintaining manufacturing quality, we have to have a strong and competent core team.”
In Sync with Suppliers
ArjoHuntleigh is also focused on developing mutually beneficial supplier relationships. The company uses the technique of best-cost country sourcing, which is a procurement strategy that encourages partnering with supplier companies based in countries with lower operating costs. ArjoHuntleigh also takes the supplier relationship a step further.
“The trend is to look over your manufacturing costs and utilize best-cost country sourcing,” Gustafson says. “But we also seek more involvement with our supply chain, not just from a sourcing perspective, but also from a technical perspective. It’s more integrated into the supply chain. Our supplier relationships are not just about buying and selling. By integrating third-party suppliers into our supply chain, we get better knowledge and better resources when it comes to deciding what materials to use, creating different products or how to produce in a more efficient way.”
Ultimately, however, the quality of ArjoHuntleigh’s products rests on ArjoHuntleigh’s shoulders. The company procures materials from third parties but maintains product design, quality assurance, assembly and testing in-house.
“There are many companies out there who focus on building high-quality products,” Gustafson says. “In our industry, we have the added challenge of building high-quality products that are also user-friendly to both the patient and the caregiver. The best of the patient and caregiver is on our mind throughout the whole development, production and distribution cycle.”