Accellent Inc.

Safety System Improvement

> RESULTS

  • 60% reduction in recordable accidents
  • $125,000 projected annual cost savings
  • Safety Committee continual improvement realized

> COMPANY

Accellent, Inc. is an OEM contract manufacturer of precision parts, particularly titanium and other light metals for the medical and critical-care industries. Its major product lines include surgical probes, bone screws, surgical staples and graspers for a variety medical applications. This business unit was initially founded in 1987 as Hayden Precision. It was sold in 1999 to MedSource Technologies of Minneapolis and acquired by Accellent, Inc. of Wilmington, MA in 2004. Annual sales have grown steadily and have been increasing at about 30% annually for several years. The privately-held company's products are sold nationally and internationally to such high profile customers as Johnson & Johnson, AMO and Bausch & Lomb.

Manufacturing operations are conducted within two modern, single story facilities; one of about 40,000 square feet (machining of titanium on Swiss Machines) and the other of 20,000 square feet (metal injection molding) in Orchard Park, NY. The current employment level is 253 people.

The company has put considerable importance on the implementation of modern manufacturing practices, including Lean Six Sigma, with particular emphasis on product quality. The company was one of the first in the WNY area to become both ISO-9001 and ISO-13485 (medical products) registered as well as GMP compliant.

Although Accellent competes against numerous major domestic manufacturers, most of the company's primary competition is offshore, particularly in Mexico and Asia. Furthermore, as a contract manufacturer, the company must also provide product to its customers at a lower cost than these major accounts can produce internally. In effect the company's major customers are also its primary competitors.

> SITUATION

Despite an apparently good working environment, senior management was concerned about the overall safety record of the two facilities. Both the number of recordable accidents and the number of days lost due to injuries exceeded the industry average. Furthermore, it was observed that excessive fires were occurring in the production areas. It was believed that this situation was attributable to insufficient structure within the organization safety systems. Specific areas of deficiency included accident investigation, job hazard analyses, inadequate lock out/tag out procedures and limited capability to perform self-audits. Accellent's management subsequently engaged Insyte Consulting to help address and resolve these issues.

> SOLUTION

The first step was to perform a Gap Analysis, which assessed the existing safety systems relative to best practices in manufacturing. The results were reviewed with the company's safety committee and a formal program was developed to implement the required improvements.

The first phase concentrated on building and enhancing the internal safety structure within the two facilities. By formalizing elements of accident investigation, job hazard analysis and internal auditing, the joint Insyte/Accellent team was able to identify and prioritize major issues and opportunities for improvement.

The second phase emphasized the establishment of new programs and procedures as well as upgrading existing procedures in order to resolve the major problems that had been identified previously. Specific actions included the enhancement of emergency evacuation procedures, fire prevention, lock out/ tag out and more effective hazard communication. A hand injury prevention program was also created when it was identified as one of the primary types of incidents.

The final phase addressed the problems associated with the frequency of fires in the production area. Although the number was known to be excessive, the specific causes were unknown. A Six Sigma approach (utilizing the DMAIC method of define, measure, analyze, improve and control) was used to uncover the key contributing factors to the frequency of fires. This methodology, including the design of experiments, identified coolant, ventilation and feed rates as significant contributors to the problem. A plan was formulated to address each of these factors and expeditiously implement them within the production areas.

Accellent, Inc. has experienced several major benefits as a result of the upgraded safety program. "Insyte Consulting was the essential element we required to improve work safety at Accellent. Without them we would not have achieved the results we needed," according to Chad Werts.

The number of recordable accidents has been reduced by over 60%. In addition annual cost savings of over $125,000 has been projected. Also the capabilities of the internal Safety Committee have been enhanced to the point where continued improvement is being realized on an ongoing basis. Finally, the structure that was introduced into the Orchard Park facilities is being introduced into other Accellent, Inc. plants throughout the country.


"Insyte Consulting was the essential element we required to improve work safety at Accellent. Without them we would not have achieved the results we needed." - Chad Werts, Director of Operations, Accellent Inc.