Abbott Receives Prestigious International

Abbott has been awarded the Shingo Prize, a leading international award for operational excellence, by the Shingo Institute at the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University. The award will be formally presented at an event in the US tonight. Abbott’s vascular manufacturing facility in Clonmel achieved the award following a decade-long journey to achieve operational excellence. The prize is awarded to organisations that demonstrate a culture where principles of operational excellence are deeply embedded into the thinking and behavior of all leaders, managers and associates.

The accolade is recognised as a premier award for operational excellence and the standard is, by design, one of the most rigorous in the world. It is open to organisations across all industries and sectors internationally. Abbott’s vascular manufacturing facility in Clonmel is the first organisation in Europe to achieve the standards required to receive the top Shingo Prize. Due to the high bar set by the assessors for receiving the Shingo, there was no recipient of the top award worldwide last year and just two companies outside of Europe received the honour in 2012.

Abbott’s Clonmel facility is a centre of excellence in the manufacturing of medical devices used to treat people with vascular diseases, including heart disease, in more than 100 countries around the world. By adopting the Shingo model, the team at Abbott was able to further develop and strengthen its long-term vision and strategy, discover the most effective ways to foster collaboration among employees, and identify opportunities to enhance the way the company manufactures medical devices. As a result, the Clonmel site has achieved significant increases in productivity while maintaining the highest standards in quality as it brings innovative medical technologies to the market.

Specific achievements at the site include:

  • A triple-digit increase in productivity over the past seven years
  • A double-digit reduction in product unit costs over the last seven years
  • The lead time from manufacturing to customer has been reduced by 85% in the last six years
  • A 300% increase in process improvements or suggestions for safety improvements that were implemented in 2013 compared to 2008
  • Zero non-conformances in any external regulatory audit for Abbott’s vascular facility in Clonmel in the past seven years
  • More than 10,000 hours have been volunteered by Abbott employees in Clonmel to help local community and charitable organisations in the past three years.

“Our journey to performance excellence has been a conscious and collaborative effort that has been ongoing since 2004,” said William Boxwell, Clonmel site director, Abbott. “Following the Shingo method, we have built on the capabilities that existed at the site, and have strategically invested in employee engagement and development. As part of our Six Sigma programme, 80 percent of our technical employees are now Green or Black Belt certified, enabling us to focus on continuous process improvement.”

“Our experience of operational excellence is akin to the best team sport – the end goal is to have everyone working together, in a synchronised effort, to achieve a common purpose. Like any winning team, engagement fosters stamina, supporting the long-term sustainability of the site,” Boxwell added.

Barry O’Leary, Chief Executive of IDA Ireland, said: “Ireland has been building up a world-class medical devices industry for many years, and Abbott is a crucial part of that effort, particularly the Clonmel facility. When investment decisions are made by leading corporations, the efficiency of the workforce is always a core factor. Winning such a prestigious prize demonstrates the achievements of everyone at Clonmel.”

Commending the employees in Clonmel, Randy Woodgrift, Divisional Vice President, Product Operations, Abbott Vascular, said, “The responsibility for excellence is shared equally across all functions and roles in Clonmel, from administration to manufacturing associates. The awarding of the Shingo Prize is a testimony to the deep commitment of our employees at the site to continuous improvement and achieving operational excellence in every facet of what they do in the manufacture of Abbott’s life-improving medical devices.”