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Get rid of wasteful processes

Sandra spends around 30% of her time on operational matters. “In a logistics operation, things sometimes don’t go as expected. Then we have to solve that in a creative way for the customer.” In addition, she makes certain that colleagues are trained to continuously improve their work, so that errors in the supply chain are detected faster and cooperation in the chain improves.

Sandra’s background in Lean management comes in handy at the MEG. Lean is a common term, but what does it actually mean? “You essentially go back to basics with Lean,” she explains. “We ask ourselves: what does a customer want? How can we achieve that without investing too much time and energy in the peripheral processes?” So-called wastage is eliminated. So, for example, the MEG works on an optimal flow on the assembly lines, so that products don’t sit around waiting. Through Lean working, the knife cuts on several sides: product quality improves, delivery time accelerates and costs decrease.

The MEG is also proud of its first-class Lean green belts. These are employees who pass on the knowledge they have gained in the field of continuous improvement to colleagues. “Our teams are constantly thinking about the question: how do we make certain that everything in my department runs smoothly all at once?”

“The difficult circumstances in our work make the supply chain challenging”

Since Sandra’s arrival, a new ERP system (Enterprise Resource Planning) has gone live. All orders are processed in this system and the products, customers and suppliers are approved. It also helps the MEG follow up orders and maintain the traceability of all batches.

Complex supply chain

In short, the supply chain looks like this: the MEG employees select suppliers, make certain that their products meet all quality requirements, check the delivery in the laboratory, store the products in the warehouse and transport them to the place of destination. Throughout this process, the quality is closely monitored.

“Our work takes place under difficult circumstances,” Sandra relates. “That makes the supply chain challenging.” After all, in African countries, processes are just more difficult to plan than in the Netherlands. The temperature is also a challenge. “A shipment of pharmaceutical products can simply remain on a runway for a few hours. In the burning sun on hot asphalt. Then it is essential that the temperature and thus the quality of the kits remain under control.”

“The products are being subjected to increasingly more demands,” says Sandra. “That stands to reason, because our devices save lives.” Customs regulations are also becoming increasingly complex. “The quality registrations must be 100% correct, you can no longer get away with 95%.” Fortunately, the MEG supply chain complies with all relevant regulations and the high standards are met.

“For a heavily pregnant woman in a war zone, a fast delivery time is of vital importance”

Emergency deliveries

Because shipments are made by plane, the MEG has a Known Consigner status. That means: a safe logistics chain with faster customs checks and security procedures, so that medical devices are delivered faster.

The new, top-of-the-bill warehouse in Vuren has also eased the supply chain. This warehouse has room for 18,000 pallets and is close to the largest port in Europe (Rotterdam). Furthermore, the trucks can be at several airports within an hour. Supposing there is a flood or earthquake, the Emergency Kits are on site within 48 hours. “Such an emergency operation takes place several times a week,” says Sandra. “Everyone drops everything and works together to make certain that the flights are met. Incredibly nice to see.”

Sandra and her colleagues continuously analyze delivery reliability. If there is a delay, they immediately look for the cause. And they make certain that recurring obstacles do not recur in the future. Good cooperation is important for this. With various departments among themselves, but also with suppliers and buyers. “For a heavily pregnant woman in a war zone, a fast delivery time is of vital importance”

A safe and sustainable chain

The MEG regularly receives visits from the Healthcare Inspectorate, the Military Police and Customs. “That is entirely justified, because the transport and storage of medicines is subject to strict regulations. The inspecting bodies are impressed by the processes in our professional warehouse.”

The supply chain of the MEG has been made more sustainable in recent years. For example, there are 3,000 solar panels on the roof of the warehouse and there is a continuous search for eco-friendly packaging methods. “Our boxes used to be filled with plastic to prevent shifting,” says Sandra. “We now use cardboard strips. They are sturdy and less polluting.” Her team is also investigating whether pallets can be made out of coconut fiber. Lighter, cheaper and more sustainable.

Local supply chains are also being streamlined, so that, for example, African countries can purchase and produce more themselves in the future. “Not all kits that we deliver to a distribution center are used there. Sometimes they have to be sent on to another province. By giving the boxes different colored labels, for example, a local employee who cannot read English can still easily send them on.” In addition, the MEG provides local training courses for the use of medical devices. “You don’t have to explain how to take paracetamol. But installing an x-ray machine is quite complicated.”

Goosebumps moments

Ultimately, in Sandra’s opinion, it’s the people who make the difference in a supply chain. “Our employees are our greatest asset. I have worked at many companies, but the team here is remarkably involved. Motivated young people, with their hearts in the right place and a strong work ethic. No bull, just get on with it. A customer recently said that she was so impressed by the warehouse employee who had shown her around. She said you could see that he was really proud of his work. And she was right.”

The professional and friendly employees themselves are also proud of their work. Sandra immediately noticed that. She rarely needs to motivate the team to take on a task. “On the contrary. They see possible improvements themselves. And get started right away. If they then receive resounding applause from their colleagues, I get goosebumps. That’s what I do it for.”

Questions? Please ask them

Medical Export Group