A company manufacturing 10-million instruments for ophthalmic surgery a year, manages its business operations with the Javelin production control system.
As well as providing Sterimedix with full traceability of each of its single-use needle and cannula products for eye surgery and non-surgical aesthetic procedures, Javelin tracks progress through the shop floor, while handling office work from sales order processing to costings and full business analysis.
“It records who’s performed each process, the quantities that have been produced, and if any scrap is involved. It is also used to monitor all production from kitting components, through each production process, to final inspection, and putting into stock”
Ronnie McFarlane, Chief Executive
Having used Javelin since 2006, Sterimedix now have around 20 licenses, and find the powerful new Customer Relationship Management option in the latest release, Javelin 2015r1, particularly important. The new module focuses on converting opportunities with prospects and existing customers into sales orders. While previous releases have had basic functionality for recording contacts, a series of tasks and automated triggers in the new option provides the means to register all opportunities for additional work, and to follow it through.
Administration Manager Nicky Cullen says that they now add sample and brochure requests into the CRM system and are automatically reminded to follow them up. “We’ve also done a large mail shot and recorded the details within the CRM system, instead of keeping spreadsheets.”
Based in the Worcestershire town of Redditch, Sterimedix is a legacy from when the area was the world center of needle manufacturing, dating back to the 17th century. As the industry declined, only companies supplying niche markets remained in Redditch. One of those was Needle Industries Group’s surgical division, which developed the single use ophthalmic cannula in the 1970s.
Sterimedix was founded at the end of 1989, and have created a full range of cannulas to support cataract surgery, and a large number of vitreoretinal instruments for operations at the back of the eye.
They also produce and supply a range of cannulas and needles to manufacturers of aesthetic fillers, who use them as delivery systems for their cosmetic facial fillers.
Chief Executive Ronnie McFarlane explains that a standard needle has a sharp point, while cannulas have a rounded or blunt tip. Cannula may have up to eight side ports for either irrigation (fluid in) or aspiration (fluid and tissue out). A number of their products are soldered, or contain holes (side ports), which are produced using their Sodick EDM spark erosion machine. Other processes include grinding, surface treatments, tube manipulations in the form of angling, bending, flattening, and creating cutting edges. Couple that with the fact they export to around 60 countries, and, says Nicky Cullen, “it is easy to see why Javelin has become a vital part of our operation.”
The Multiple Currencies capability within the Purchase Order function is particularly useful. “We deal with suppliers from all over the world, and have Japanese Yen, US Dollars, Euros, and Swiss francs set up on the system. We also invoice many of our distributors in these currencies. All we have to do is periodically update the exchange rates.”
Shop Floor Data Capture shows exactly where each works order is at any stage. “It records who’s performed each process, the quantities that have been produced, and if any scrap is involved. It is also used to monitor all production from kitting components, through each production process, to final inspection, and putting into stock.”
The Sales Office use SFDC to give customers accurate delivery dates. She says: “If we get an inquiry for a product that isn’t in stock, we can see at a glance whether it is still being manufactured, packed or sterilised, or ready to be despatched.” Up to 20 different operations are logged against some products, with just four or five for others.
And with nine SFDC terminals spread over the company’s two neighbouring sites, Ronnie McFarlane says it also shows workforce efficiency. “We can see how quickly each operator performs each task, and identify training needs if required. We review our standard costs and the actual costs. By knowing what time an operator logs on and off we can see if we’ve got the timings right on each of the product routings.”
Sterimedix is a certified ISO 9001 and ISO 13485 (medical device accreditation) company. Javelin provides instant product and component traceability, which is a requirement of these accreditations. Nicky Cullen says: “If we need to find where a particular batch has been sent to around the world we can now do that in about ten minutes. Before Javelin it would take several hours, as we were using batch stock cards, manual data entry and physically writing out individual works orders.”
The company quickly adapted how they use Sales Order Processing to their own specific needs. “We either, enter the Sales Order and send our customer an acknowledgement; or if they prepay, we create a tentative sales order in Javelin so we’ve got something on the system. When entering the order, we enter the date the order needs to be despatched by; and on the customer’s acknowledgement we show the date it will arrive with them.
“Sales orders are entered in the sales office, and the despatch department prints a daily Crystal Report showing which orders need to be despatched that day.”
MRP is run weekly, with the Logistics Manager reviewing all Works and Purchase Orders that need to be raised, ensuring preferential purchase prices by amalgamating POs where possible.
The Materials Control function fully manages batches. “All Goods Received Notes are raised, and goods inward inspections are recorded here. We have a variety of inspection conditions for each and every part, which are detailed on the GRN when it is raised, so that our inspectors are aware of the conditions they are inspecting. The material goes into stock on a GRN number, and is then issued to, or kitted up to, a Works Order number. The unplanned issue and unplanned receipts function for stock adjustment also ensures we are in full control at all times.”
Crystal Reports are used extensively throughout the process. “We can obtain any information from Javelin in exactly the formats required. Crystal Reports enable us to produce some extremely complicated reports.”
Ronnie McFarlane also uses Javelin to analyse business performance. “It gives us a complete overview of our processes and the business as a whole.”
With 50 employees and a turnover of around £6m, Sterimedix was recently acquired by American ophthalmic specialists, Synergetics Inc. “It gives us the opportunity to develop our business on a stand-alone basis, but with the backing of a much larger operation,” he says.
About the Company
Business: Manufacturer of single use devices for ophthalmic surgery and non-surgical aesthetic procedures
- Tracks progress through shop floor to sales order processing and full business analysis
- Can monitor operator performance and identify training needs if required.
- Can obtain any information from Javelin in exactly the formats required
“It records who’s performed each process, the quantities that have been produced, and if any scrap is involved. It is also used to monitor all production from kitting components, through each production process, to final inspection, and putting into stock”.
Ronnie McFarlane, Chief Executive