Medical Technology and Lean

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Operational Excellence


Olympus proudly develops customer-oriented product solutions for medical technology, science, and industry. For more than 100 years, Olympus has concentrated on making people’s lives healthier, safer, and more fulfilled. Its products help detect, prevent, and treat illness; promote scientific research; and contribute to the safety of society.

Olympus’ medical technology portfolio includes endoscopes, laparoscopes, and video imaging systems, as well as electric surgical devices, integrated OP solutions, medical technology service, and a broad spectrum of endotherapy instruments for endoscopic and therapeutic applications.

The initial situation

As a leading medical technology company, Olympus improves the treatment standards for particular illnesses and thus the services and results for its customers. In the last couple of years, Medical Repair Service (MRS) has been focusing on standardizing and optimizing the repair process across the network in EMEA with the main aim of reducing repair lead time.

The next step is to establish a culture of continuous improvement in order to produce sustainable results in terms of cost, quality, and delivery. In order to make continuous improvement part of the daily culture, Medical Repair Service has decided to implement lean in both operations and administrative functions. For this project, Olympus MRS needed a partner who could help them build up lean skills and competences in the organization.

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I found the program very short lived, refreshing, and motivating. Staufen communicated the LEAN spirit in a very charming manner.

Service Product Engineer and LEAN Ambassador, OLYMPUS SURGICAL TECHNOLOGIES EUROPE

The implementation

Working with Staufen, Olympus MRS developed and introduced a training program that is custom-tailored to the organization’s specific needs. This international qualification program consists of trainings on-site with simulations and practical group work, as well as web-based learning units in the local languages.

For Markus Franz and Oliver Maierski of Staufen AG, the concern was to ensure that modular and custom-tailored lean know-how was communicated to participants and that a feeling of cohesion was promoted, one that inspires motivation and a desire for lean.

The introduction of a practical qualification program in the Czech Republic, Portugal, England, France, and Germany during the Corona pandemic presented many opportunities, but also a few challenges for all participants.

Staufen spoke with Evelina Speri, Lean System Manager for the EMEA Region at Medical Repair Service.

Portrait Evelina Speri

Evelina Speri

Lean System Manager for EMEA Region

Olympus Surgical Technologies Europe

Ms. Speri, together with Staufen AG, you established an internal qualification program. What was the reason for this program and what was the goal?

Essentially the concerns were to shorten the lead times at our Medical Repair Service locations, to reduce costs, and to improve repair processes with the aim of increasing customer satisfaction.

For me as Lean System Manager, the challenge is to conceive of lean as a system, to implement it in our locations, and to work with the local lean experts and in coordination with the management. For us, lean should not be regarded as a project, but rather as a new way of thinking and a method for sustainable process improvement. For this, the first step required a qualification program, one that was supposed to prepare process participants for the lean journey.

How difficult was the first step, the preparation of the entire organization for the lean journey?

For us, the central challenge was that the organization’s employees had a wide variety of experiences with optimization projects and methods. However, only a few effects of these initiatives were visible and could be measured. There was no uniform understanding of an improvement structure and method. Added to this was the fact that in the past two years, due to the pandemic, we had to introduce lean primarily virtually. The only exception were the trainings with Staufen on-site. The initial work was demanding but necessary in order to establish a location-spanning system for standardizing and structuring process improvement.

How did you plan the stages of your lean journey?

The implementation of the lean system involved three building blocks: first, establishing lean competency; second, optimizing our Shop Floor Management; and third, implementing specific improvements (Kaizen) in our processes. Our lean journey began with the communication of lean know-how and the establishment of lean competences in November 2021. Thus far, more than 100 managers and employees have been trained in several locations. In parallel with the trainings, which we are continuing to roll-out, we are standardizing our Shop Floor Management system. A structure for generating and implementing Kaizen is also already well underway.

What’s your conclusion about how the cooperation with Staufen has gone?

Several meetings were required in order to formulate a common target image. Furthermore, the pandemic compromised the planned course of the training since the training units on the shop floor were not easy to organize. Nevertheless, we are very satisfied with the results thus far. The qualification program has brought a lot of “aha” moments. In particular, the simulations in the practical part were very convincing.

But we’re still at the beginning of our lean journey. However, we have taken the first step in the right direction. The great motivation and commitment of the entire management team when it comes to this topic have played a decisive role. Many improvements are already evident, which motivates us to take the next step.

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Olympus is headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, and has more than 30,000 employees in nearly 40 countries around the world. Olympus Europe, which has its central office in Hamburg, Germany, serves the EMEA region (Europe, Middle East & Africa) and employs over 7,800 people in 21 countries.





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Magazine Article about Olympus

Medical Technology and Lean

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