Container reductions, reusable boxes and waste savings: Three successful projects for a more sustainable healthcare supply chain
Three recently completed projects are the latest steps on our sustainability journey through a continued commitment to being a responsible company with a sustainable offering throughout the value chain.
Packaging redesign in Poland is key to a 33% container reduction – lowering our carbon footprint
Our first successful and dedicated step towards more efficient and sustainable transportation was done through a slight packaging change to fit more medical beds into the same container. The result is a 33% reduction in the amount of containers needed, reducing carbon emissions as well as lowering transportation costs.
Arjo’s medical beds manufactured in Poznan are packaged in various ways, based on mode of transport to customers around the globe. For road freight to destinations around Europe we use a standard carton board, which is heavily stiffened when shipping by sea to more far away destinations.
“For sea freight, we were earlier able to place three beds on top of each other, to fit the container space. We saw the possibility to fit in a fourth one, if the packaging and pallet were slightly redesigned. Last year we started a project for this, aiming at finding a perfect-fit solution that could also meet all our other strict requirement, regarding quality and security,” says Johan Johannesson, Director, Global Transport at Arjo.
The project team had to make sure that the new packaging was stable enough to handle the weight. It took some serious trying and testing before they found a solution that they were completely satisfied with, which was taken into use in March last year.
Increasing both sustainability and cost-efficiency
Now being able to load four beds on top of each other instead of three, reduces the amount of containers needed by 33%, since this greatly increases the degree of filling in each container.
“Overall, this brings great advantages both from a sustainability perspective, with a reduction in carbon emissions for this type of shipments, and for reducing transportation costs, which is highly valuable right now when shipping prices have soared."
Raising awareness for exploring new possibilities
Arjo has now proved that the quite simple solution of adjusting the load to fit optimally in a container, can really make a difference. And this is just the beginning. We are now looking at increasing transport efficiency by making adjustments to packaging and products wherever and whenever possible, expecting to be able to reach significant reductions ahead.
“The beauty of this type of improvements is that they both reduce our environmental footprint and lower our transportation cost, and we will continue to explore possibilities in this area. Also now” Johan Johannesson concludes, “when we can show that this actually can be done and create results, we get a lot of good ideas from people out in the organisation, seeing that it is possible to contribute to making a difference.”
A rotation of reusable boxes reduces 4-5% of total waste in Suzhou, China
After replacing the cardboard boxes for supply deliveries with reusable boxes, Arjo’s site in Suzhou saves about 5,000 cardboard boxes per year. This greatly reduces the amount of waste as well as cuts cost, without compromising product quality or process safety.
Initiated in close cooperation with three local suppliers, this project included several Arjo teams at the Suzhou site, from procurement to operations. It was the short transportation distance, in combination with high volumes and frequent deliveries that made it possible to evaluate switching from cardboard boxes to reusable boxes, without downsides.
“The relatively short transport distance was a condition for the project, since the plastic boxes are not quite as sealed and protective as the cardboard boxes,” says Angela Jiang, Local Quality Manager at Arjo in Suzhou.
Safeguarding quality and safety aspects
Before launching the project, the teams evaluated it from different angels, making sure not to affect the product quality or process safety in any way.
“When the results confirmed that there were no such downsides, everybody at the site was really happy to make this transition, and improve our sustainability profile. And this is just a starting point – many of our suppliers are located in our nearby region so we are currently investigating the possibility for other actions like this,” says Angela Jiang.
Now the supply material and parts are delivered in a frequent rotation of reusable boxes, saving a significant amount of waste, also minimizing the handling time and storing space needed in the warehouse, also ultimately reducing cost.
Inspiring and learning from each other
Across the Arjo organization, there are numerous projects like this going on, aiming at creating benefits from both a sustainability and a cost efficiency side. Other projects that the Suzhou site is looking at, is finding ways to reuse textile material waste, and source chemical components with zero negative impact.
“This waste reduction project is an excellent example of how joint efforts towards common goals can really make a difference. It is crucial that we learn from each other, and we will use the experience from this project to inspire other teams and sites,” says Johan Östblad, Sustainability Manager at Arjo.
Numerous small waste savings greatly reduce our environmental impact in the Dominican Republic
The best way of dealing with waste, both environmentally and economically, is to avoid creating it in the first place. This was the focus of several waste saving projects at our site in the Dominican Republic, presenting great results from the ambitious efforts.
In the Dominican Republic, local infrastructure and capabilities for recycling are underdeveloped, leading to that disposal of non-woven waste is sent to landfill, which is the least preferred option. This led to the prioritization of a number of projects aiming at reducing the amount of waste as much as possible.
The site selected three projects, two related to flites, and the third related to AirPal transfer mattresses. The idea was to optimize the usage of the material rolls in the manufacturing process, in order to drastically reduce the waste output.
Many small improvements creates significant results
“We found that the best way for us to reduce our environmental footprint was to do it one step at the time. Doing multiple small thing will lead to great changes,” says Joaquin Peignand, Senior EHS Engineer at Arjo Dominican Republic.
The implementation of the projects resulted in the reduction of approximately 4,500 Kg of non-woven waste a year.
“We have a good momentum to our sustainability journey, and successful projects like these give us confidence that we can make a huge difference to our environmental impact without negatively affecting product or business performance,” says Andy Thompson, Supply Chain Director at Arjo.
We are proud of the global impact that our local teams achieve as they continuously seek out new opportunities to create a world in which sustainable healthcare take an increasingly central role in the wellbeing of our planet and its people.
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