Changing from batch production of patient monitoring systems to building and packaging them on-demand to meet sales orders led to a switch in the packaging used to protect the $4,500 to $7,500 medical devices in transit. That move is saving money for Issaquah, WA-based monitor manufacturer Spacelabs Medical, a division of Spacelabs Healthcare. The new elastomeric Korrvu® packaging from Sealed Air (www.sealedair.com) also helps Spacelabs’ global hospital customers more easily discard the materials.
Jaime Cardenas, master production scheduler at Spacelabs, explains, “With batch production, we built anywhere from 100 to 200 units at a time. Now, we only build to actual sales orders as we need them.”
That switch, he says, “saves 400- to 500-square-feet of space in the Isaaquah facility. “When we used fabricated polyethylene and polyurethane die-cut foam, we had to store large boxes of them,” says
Labor savings are another benefit of the switch to Korrvu. During batch processing, employees created makeshift assembly lines to put together packages of foam and corrugated shipping cases. “We weren’t really utilizing our employees [effectively], or packaging the units in a timely manner,”
Although specific labor comparisons between batch and on-demand packaging aren’t available, he conservatively estimates that the change provides Spacelabs with a 10% savings.
Manual packaging process
Space and labor advantages reduce costs by 40% and use one pack instead of three for Spacelabs’ three different sizes of monitors, which are measured much like that of a television screen.
Monitors are assembled, built, and packaged on three different lines that operate five days a week, one shift/day. Depending on the monitor, between four and 13 employees are used on each line, with one person actually packaging at the end of the line, a process that takes four to five minutes per monitor.
“Somebody is assembling the front of the monitor, somebody else produces the rear portion of it, and other people are putting boards inside of the unit,”
A packager first assembles a regular slotted container (RSC) before adding monitor accessories to the box in a Korrvu retention package. The side flaps are folded upward so that the elastomer film in the retention package loosens. The worker places the accessories between the frame and the film, folds down the flaps, and the film stretches around the product to secure it. The accessory pack is moved to one side within the RSC.
“By the end of the line,” says
Employees and customers approve
“It takes four to five minutes to package one unit now,” says
Spacelabs is especially pleased with the switch to Korrvu because it benefits hospital customers. Says
Another customer benefit,
In short, “It’s much simpler to use and recycle, and it fits every aspect and specification we were looking for,” he says.