Deliver every order in the required quality at the agreed time

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July 9, 2024 | Operational Excellence, Supply Chain Network Management

Interview with Roland Seckler – vice president of global supply chain operations of ypsomed ag

Pens, autoinjectors and pump systems – the solutions offered by Ypsomed AG for overthe-counter medication are more sought after than ever before. Still, growth needs to be managed as well. How operational excellence can help explains Roland Seckler – Vice President of Global Supply Chain Operations.

About the company: Ypsomed AG is the world’s leading manufacturer of over-the-counter injection and infusion systems. With its headquarters in Switzerland, the company specializing in diabetic products also has a global network of production sites, subsidiaries and sales partners.

About the person: Roland Seckler is Vice President of Global
Supply Chain Operations at Ypsomed AG. Seckler has been with the company since 2014 after previous roles at Novartis, Nestlé and Knauf.

The interview appeared as a guest article in the Study Performance Drivers 2024.

Portrait des Vice President Global Supply Chain Management des Unternehmens Ypsomed aus der Schweiz

Punctual delivery of every order in first-class quality

1. Mr. Seckler, what does operational excellence mean for Ypsomed?

Seckler: We are a global technology leader in the development and manufacture of drug delivery systems. We see operational excellence as a tool to maintain this position. We aim to achieve a high level of automation and become the cost leader at the same time. Lean management helps us to reduce manufacturing costs. This is also of benefit to our customers and users.

3. What prerequisites must be met to achieve this?

Seckler: An essential prerequisite is the availability of the devices – a critical factor depending on the illness. This is why we pay close attention to important safety parameters along the supply chain. One key factor: our pharmaceutical partners need a large warehouse in order to be able to deliver in any situation. This is true for us as well.

2. Are patients what is meant by users?

Seckler: Yes, our users are the chronically ill patients,
and our goal is to improve their quality of life. We help
patients suffering from diabetes, autoimmune and growth disorders, to name just a few of the diseases for which we produce injection devices. These patients suffer from a poor quality of life and require regular or even long-term medication. We are probably best known for our insulin pump, which works with the mylife loop algorithm. It prevents insulin deficiency or oversupply by interacting with sensors that continuously measure blood glucose levels, enabling patients with type 1 diabetes (type 1 diabetes can begin in early childhood!) to enjoy a comfortable and carefree daily routine.

4. How do you achieve this goal?

Seckler: We provide a proprietary technical platform for our devices in the form of a modular system. This ensures maximum manufacturing efficiency. In addition, we also develop assembly systems in collaboration with the manufacturers. They are only a few mechanical engineering
companies, so we can be supplied quickly. Currently, we are continuously expanding our capacities, adding new systems every six months.

The road map we have drawn up is as follows:
we want the entire value chain to be climateneutral by 2030 and the entire company by 2040

Vice president Global Supply Chain operations Ypsomed AG, Roland Seckler

5. Which data do you collect in the process chain?

Seckler: We collect all key parameters that are needed
for our production. Primarily, this concerns the overall
equipment effectiveness (OEE) in our production. We also determine key production figures in order to identify the extent to which production is being utilized. Of course, we also calculate the lean KPI OTIF (On Time, In Full). Given our strong customer focus, we take this KPI quite seriously. Our goal is to deliver every order in the required quality at the agreed time.

7. Do suppliers also participate in the data exchange?

Seckler: We engage in a lively exchange with all suppliers, for example at quarterly meetings. We also communicate via digital channels. This enables us to transmit inventories and forecasts so that suppliers can streamline their own production. That makes things more efficient and helps us to achieve effective replenishment.

6. Do you also use digital technologies to monitor manufacturing?

Seckler: Certainly one critical aspect is that we measure all disruptive factors at the assembly systems and then pass these factors on to our suppliers. The knowledge acquired from machine operation flows directly into the development of new machines. Producers are also developing optimization packages for their existing systems. This ensures that the systems are consistently upgraded throughout their service life.

8. How does that work in day-to-day practice? For example, how do you handle a situation when suddenly there is increased demand?

Seckler: Let’s take weight management products for the obese, commonly known as weight loss injections, which are supplied in injection pens, i.e. autoinjectors, as an example. We’re not especially happy about how popular they are with people who are only slightly overweight, don’t have diabetes and are not seriously overweight. After all, those who are genuinely ill must be cared for safely.
That’s why we are planning to increase our production capacity with multi-track production systems so that several injection pens can be produced at the same time.

9. Was a new procurement strategy needed for production?

Seckler: We bundled our strategy under the name
“Purchase 4.0”. This includes, in addition to digitalization, the concept of Near Shoring as well. We give preference to suppliers located close to our production sites, i.e. in Germany and Switzerland. This helps us to minimize long transport routes. We include this in our sustainability performance, because our goal, after all, is to reduce our carbon footprint. The road map we have drawn up is
as follows: we want the entire value chain to be climateneutral by 2030 and the entire company by 2040.

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