“The people of A-kwadraat are naturally very accurate and have a strong focus on the product.”

Cas client

Client: Added Pharma

Travail: A new assembly line to start the production of SmartSyringe as soon as possible

Jacqueline Wijsman is marketing and product manager at Added Pharma. The company supplies (hospital) pharmacies with medical products. At the end of 2020, the assembly unit had to be transferred from a Dutch social enterprise to A-kwadraat. As project leader, Jacqueline Wijsman managed the transition in the right direction.

How did you come up with the idea of deploying A-kwadraat?
Jacqueline Wijsman: “The first corona peak was crazy for Added Pharma. Among other things, we supply hospital pharmacies with empty, sterilized syringes, which we call SmartSyringe. Then, the syringes are prepared in the various departments. With a covid patient, there are usually about nine syringe pumps next to the bed, each of them often has more than one syringe added per day. The number of injections increased tenfold or even a hundredfold in some cases.

Therefore, the demand for SmartSyringe increased strongly. Our assembly unit in the Netherlands prepared the multipacks with syringes for us, but we received the news that they would stop at the end of 2020. We had to act very fast. Via Van Rooijen, our transport partner, we encountered A-kwadraat. From the first conversation between our quality department and the director of A-kwadraat, things felt right. We immediately agreed on several levels.”

How did the transition go?
“During that period, the second and third wave were yet to come. Nevertheless, we managed to set up our production in 1.5 to 2 months with acceptable output and quality, and with happy people.

The start-up consisted partly of adopting protocols and ways of working and partly of improving. A-kwadraat bought, among other things, equipment from our previous partner, which I think is a good example of corporate social responsibility.

Our previous partner had a cleanroom 7, which has even fewer dust particles than A-kwadraat’s cleanroom 8. That was too bad, because working aseptically is very important to us. But at A-kwadraat, I felt the willingness and the open mind to look at every step to get the quality just that little bit higher. For example, now extra gloves are used, there is an extra cleaning step before entering and adapted clothing.

Having to move your assembly unit is very annoying, but at the same time, it offers the opportunity to make improvements. We spent a month optimizing the routing because the less the products are put away and picked up again, the better. Every action takes time and creates pollution. The improvements also paid attention to ergonomic working.

So, we have made a lot of improvements. For example, we revised the intermediate control checks and, from now on, we weigh bags to make sure the number of syringes and caps is correct. I notice that A-kwadraat is willing to invest in things to improve the process. The components sheet – the label of the product – was also completely rethought. Another improvement is the sealing, happening halfway through the packing, which improves the quality, and the product looks much neater. It’s nice that A-kwadraat takes working neatly and the appearance to our customers into account. Finally, we switched to SharePoint for the production planning. Such a shared document ensures a smoother collaboration.”

What is happening exactly?
“We have four product groups, and A-kwadraat helps us with two of them. The most important one is ‘aseptic compounding’. Concretely, A-kwadraat composes multipacks of syringes. We offer many different volumes of syringes, for example, large syringes for infusion lines or small injections for dermatology. But one bag always contains 25 copies. Each product has another description to assemble.

A second product group is the pharmaceuticals. At A-kwadraat, ten pharmaceuticals are regularly packed.”

"We often forget to give compliments. But in this whole project, I am so grateful to everyone for their efforts."

Are you satisfied with the output?
“In 2019, our previous partner assembled 1.2 million pieces and in 2020 2.5 million. From January to September 2021, A-kwadraat will process nearly 1.5 million syringes. That output is remarkable. We should be proud of that.

The people of A-kwadraat pay much more attention than a group of students, for example. They are naturally very accurate and have a strong focus on the product.

We got to know each other gradually. In the meantime, our quality department has also visited Turnhout. The first on-site audit was very positive.

We got a permanent line at A-kwadraat. That means that our cooperation is guaranteed in the future and that the output may still increase. It is unique, that right from the start, people have been involved who are looking at the future too. There is still room for improvement. Now, it is important to monitor the production and to further increase the output."

What is the added value of a partner like A-kwadraat for you?
“Gradually, we’ve sensed that we understand each other as a company. We fit together. I see more and more parallels between our ways of working. For example, A-kwadraat obtained an EFQM label just when we were also working on quality management systems. That way, you can guarantee quality in a fairly efficient way.

At A-kwadraat, you enter an environment where people are very benevolent. There is a natural calm, perhaps precisely because they work with people with a distance to the labour market. Simply increasing the pressure is not an option.

In the framework of A-kwadraat, I notice a lot of good will and peace of mind to make something out of it. If you are allowed to work with people with a distance to the labour market in their own environment, you feel that things can be done differently. They bring you something, simple basic things. Everyone should experience it once. We often forget to give compliments. But in this whole project, I am so grateful to everyone for their efforts. There is the courage to innovate. I think the spirit of director Jan Boeckx makes sure that A-kwadraat is A-kwadraat, and that people can do what they are good at."

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