The American group Hillrom is a global, market-leading medical technology company, with approximately 10,000 employees worldwide. Working closely with health professionals in more than one hundred countries throughout the world, Hillrom strives every day to improve the quality of care for both patients and carers.
Hillrom has been based at Pluvigner in Bretagne since 1991. In 2013, the Pluvigner site was confronted with serious difficulties that that led to impressive transformations, until it became one of the group’s pillars at global level.
In five years, Pluvigner has gone from a site in difficulty to a leader in operational excellence within the international group.
The view of Marc Capdeville: Bretagne as land of investment
The Bretagne ecosystem is very rich for anyone interested, with many initiatives focusing on CSR – corporate social responsibility. But also very strong dynamic of GHT [Regional Hospitals] with partnerships to fuel shared innovation to improve the efficiency of care for patients and healthcare staff.
The human dimension is at the heart of our approach and we should not have made forward progress without investment by our teams. The worker in Bretagne is committed, tenacious, authentic and genuine. He is very proud of his business, his region and his origins that he makes the most of in his work environment.
We are also supported by the Regional Council, the Community of municipalities, municipalities, Bretagne Commerce International/Invest in Bretagne and other structures.
Interview with Marc Capdeville, Executive Director of the Pluvigner site.
Can you present your company?
The Hillrom Group has been established at Pluvigner in Bretagne since 1991, on a site that extends over more than 110,000 m2, including 36,000 m2 of buildings. At the time the company only manufactured medical beds and hospital furniture for short and long stays, but now the Pluvigner site is a MEDTECH company, manufacturing increasingly smart beds and mattresses. It is also an international logistics platform for stretchers, lifting systems, surgical sector consumables and so on.
The Pluvigner site produces over thirty thousand beds every year (and therapeutic mattresses) and 100,000 items of furniture (tables, armchairs, bedside tables, etc.). These products are destined to equip public and private sector health facilities – hospitals, clinics, retirement homes, etc. It is all delivered to over one hundred countries in the main regions of the world: Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia, Latin America. The Pluvigner site is now far more than a production site, it has become an international centre of excellence.
How have you managed to turn your production site into an international centre of excellence at group level? What is the strength of your site in Bretagne within the group?
In 2013, the factory was confronted with huge problems due to a loss of competitiveness and performance. This prompted it to question its very existence and set in motion a new dynamic. This transformational approach was driven by all the employees and focused on a common goal – customer satisfaction. It was really a “humanist transformation”.
How can we remain competitive in an increasingly competitive environment whilst cultivating people in an approach of well-being and performance? The Management Team attempts to answer this question every day and to this end set up a genuine strategy in 2015 based on the company’s five founding principles – respect, integrity, responsiveness, result and pleasure. Hence the genesis of our approach “Well-being and Performance” which is now the DNA of our site. Thus, no accidents occurred in 2017 and delivery reliability peaked at 99%.
The site was transformed impressively in just a few years. Hillrom Pluvigner firstly tackled safety and then quality to generate productivity automatically and keep pushing for on-going improvement. The new processes introduced reduced stocks and therefore created space to accommodate new activities that were carried out abroad. Apart from production, the Pluvigner site handles the logistics, sales administration, purchases, samples and spare parts, research and development and financial operations.
After all these transformation years, the Bretagne site has become one of the pillars of the Hillrom Group to support its international growth. Thus, half the site’s activities support the group’s international business, with a desire to turn Pluvigner into a centre of operational excellence for the group’s international activities.
How much did you invest to support this transformation?
Major investment was injected to transform the site, including €2M in 2017. Apart from new machines to continue automating production lines such as welding robots, a painting robot and two metal bar laser cutting machines, the test laboratory has seen its capacity doubled and a prototyping workshop was created to form a new centre of innovation. This was opened in mid-2017 in the presence of the President of the Region.
Some forty employees develop and test new products, for tomorrow’s beds have more and more technology built into them: integrated patient weighing system, managing vital signs and optimising care, etc. The digital transformation is accelerating and will have an impact on healthcare through telemedicine, connected objects, artificial intelligence and the analysis of more and more clinical data. Thus, Hillrom today creates connected solutions to improve the care given to the patient before, during and after his stay in hospital.
What are the goals of this innovation centre?
The innovation centre is an important milestone for Pluvigner. This latest generation tool has helped to bring the development of the activity up to speed, which will accelerate product development and site dynamics. The innovation centre will primarily work for Pluvigner whilst also supporting other sites around the world.
You also opened an “Experience Centre” in Pluvigner in 2018. Can you tell us more about it?
The Hillrom Experience Centre – its opening in 2018 was attended by the Group Chairman – is the group’s new showcase in Europe and customers come from all over the world to visit it. Visitors can browse through several health environments, like a real care path: consultation with the doctor with the latest monitors, hospitalisation in a connected room, minimally invasive procedure on an operating table adapted to robotic surgery and resuscitation. Hillrom offers innovative solutions at every stage of the care journey. From early diagnosis to improved rehabilitation via connected hospitalisation.
Your site was struggling in 2013. You are now one of the pillars of the group globally. Since 2018, you have received several awards in recognition of your approach and your deep-seated transformation process. Can you tell us about this?
This impressive change was recognised at end January 2018 by Medef, the Association France Qualité (AFQP) and the General Business Directorate (DGE) that awarded the Hillrom Pluvigner site the 2018 National Operational Excellence Prize in the ETI category. The Jury for the Operational Excellence Quality Prize stated:
The turnaround of the Pluvigner site in just four years is impressive and has also impressed the Hillrom Group itself. The exceptional collective dynamics at all levels – “leadership team”, “operational leadership team” and field – are the foundation for a real deep-seated transformation that is reflected in excellent indicators.
In September 2018, Hillrom SAS was certified GOLD by the EcoVadis organisation with a score of 63/100, thereby placing the business among the top 5% rated by EcoVadis. This overall score reflects the quality of the corporate social responsibility management system as well as our environmental and social performances around four themes: environment, social, business ethics and responsible purchasing.
In March 2019, Hillrom SAS received the international Great Place to Work certification. The Pluvigner thus becomes the first Morbihan company to hold this certification. We are convinced at Hillrom that Well-being at work is closely linked to Performance and vice versa, which is why we invest in the human dimension which is the major CAPITAL of our company.
The assessment followed on from an anonymous survey of the employees and an assessment of the quality and diversity of managerial practices introduced within the company. Three major strengths stood out from this survey:
- Employees committed to their work and proud to work for Hillrom SAS.
- Professional support from the company, whereby employees can evolve in a satisfactory work environment.
- A friendly work atmosphere where employees care about the well-being of their colleagues.
What is your ambition for the site in the medium term?
The ambition of the site is to be no. 1 in the medical industry in terms of safety, quality, cost and lead times. We shall continue to pursue operational excellence by activating all the collective intelligence levers so that each individual can nurture the ambition of the site for the common good.
The SHINGO PRIZE signifies international recognition for operational excellence and the site’s aim is to obtain this certification end 2020.