De Soutter Medical
Application: 10 Hänel Lean-Lifts
Main goal: Hänel Lean-Lifts alongside Industore’s expertise and knowledge, has empowered De Soutter Medical to repurpose 80% of their warehouse floor space into new, income-generating areas; by compactly storing inventory vertically, on a very small footprint.
Founded in 1990, De Soutter Medical is a leading manufacturer of powered surgical instruments. For more than three decades, this trendsetting business has specialised in the development, production, and worldwide distribution of surgical devices for procedures around the world. The Buckinghamshire headquartered company now manufactures and exports over 800 products to an eclectic mix of industry leading organisations, from the NHS to UK-wide private hospitals as well as other healthcare providers internationally.
Before the introduction of Industore’s Lean-Lifts, De Soutter Medical relied on traditional racking systems to store their products. As well as requiring an enormous footprint inside the medical manufacturer’s facility (which left next to no room for any other activities), the racking forced De Soutter Medical to rely on extremely high levels of manual handling processes – which were slow and error-prone. As demand for products increased and the company continued to expand, De Soutter Medical recognised the need to optimise their storage and modernise their warehouse operations. Following an internal review, the organisation launched a comprehensive market research exercise, as Andrew Butchard, Manufacturing Director explains:
“De Soutter Medical continues to maintain strong growth. The key to realising this growth is having a very efficient, very accurate warehouse operation, which is connected, futureproof and flexible to changing business needs. As the need to expand and improve business operations became more apparent, we began to search the market for automated storage and retrieval systems, with a view to improving warehouse performance and futureproofing the company. After a thorough market research exercise, Hänel Lean-Lifts were identified as being the best in their class, and Industore, the clear leaders in intralogistics.
Today, Industore’s Lean-Lifts ensure our pickers select inventory quickly and correctly – every time. As well as speeding up the picking process and reducing our erroneous picks to zero, Industore’s Lean-Lifts, expertise and knowledge has empowered De Soutter Medical to repurpose 80% of our warehouse floor space into new, income-generating areas; by compactly storing our inventory vertically, on a very small footprint. As a direct result of the accuracy provided by the Lean-Lifts, De Soutter Medical no longer perform annual stock audits – because in all the years we have had the lifts in service, the stock checks have never been inconsistent. This has saved time, money and disruption enormously.”
Industore’s Lean-Lifts now store more than threequarters of De Soutter Medical’s products for daily dispatch. The fast-moving consumer goods stored (FMCG) makes them perfect for the Lean- Lift – which ensures the goods are stored neatly and very densely, further saving space. The high value items are stored entirely securely, and can only be accessed by those with appropriate access, as defined by system administrators, independently of Industore staff or engineers – empowering the organisation to take full control of their own operations, at a moment’s notice. The additional space generated by the Lean-Lifts has empowered the organisation to increase stock levels in the event of national or international crisis, to ensure disruption is avoided. Which has become increasingly beneficial in recent years.
Computer control guarantees stock is never hard to-find or lost, as the in-built technology brings the right goods to man (G2M) every time, and maintains a constant track of who took what, when, providing maximum security and transparency of the high value goods inside the lifts. To ensure 100% stock accuracy at the time of picking, De Soutter Medical benefit from Industore’s pick-to-light technology, which immediately indicates to the picker exactly where products are located at the time of picking, or at the time of storing. Given so many of the items at De Soutter Medical are similar in packaging styles, this is an invaluable tool – speeding up the picking speed and accuracy.
Industore Managing Director and De Soutter Project Manager Ross Powell discusses the evolution of the De Soutter Medical project:
It’s hard to imagine that just 10-years ago, De Soutter Medical operated using only racking. Since then, demand and stock levels have increased significantly, and Industore has responded by introducing more and more Lean-Lifts as and when the business needed them. Today, the organisation has 10, 7.4m high Lean-Lifts storing their products. To put that into context, if they were still using their original racking, they would now need the equivalent of an Olympic sized swimming pool to store their inventory.
We’re very grateful to be working with another UK business, whose merit can be linked to their expertise, knowledge, innovation, and dedication to customer service – which are the four pillars Industore prides ourselves on. We’re very proud of what has been achieved at De Soutter Medical to date and are thoroughly looking forward to the next stage of works, as De Soutter Medical continues to expand into the future – with the introduction of another six Lean-Lifts.”
Industore offers a comprehensive aftercare service to all clients, and forward-thinking De Soutter Medical were quick to realise the benefits and peace of mind that comes with taking out a service contract. Annually, De Soutter Medical’s aftercare plan sees a competent Industore engineer – who is Hänel trained – perform a thorough service on all machines onsite. In turn, this ensures the organisation is compliant with PUWER safety regulations, in line with the safety requirements outlined in EN15095, the European safety standard for automated storage systems. The additional benefits of Industore’s service contracts include complimentary staff training, free firmware updates, (and in the unlikely event of a breakdown) priority engineer response time and express spare parts delivery.
Andrew Butchard, concludes:
“Automated Storage and Retrievals Systems have played a key role in facilitating the expansion and on-going success of De Soutter Medical, but the reason I am an Industore advocate, is because their machines are incredibly reliable and their service, second-to-none. I couldn’t recommend them more.”