Company Profiles - Fresenius Medical Care

in Production

Fresenius Medical care is a producer of dialysis equipment and offering services in this field of (chronic) kidney failure. The best known of these kidney supportive functions is hemodialysis which became routine in the 1960s.

According to information on their side, Fresenius Medical Care is the world's largest integrated provider of products and services for individuals undergoing dialysis because of chronic kidney failure, a condition that affects more than 1,770,000 individuals worldwide. In 2007 170000 patients were treated where the next competitor (Davita) treated "only" 107000 patients.

Vision.
After three decades of experience in dialysis the vision is to remain the global leader in this area: "Creating a future worth living. For people. Worldwide. Every day."

Management Board.
The management board is chaired by Dr. Ben J. Lipps (68) since 1999 has worked in the field of dialysis for more than 35 years and has a degree in chemical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Led the research team at DOW Chemical that developed the first commercial hollow-fiber artificial kidney at the end of the 1960s.

Other members of the board specialize in: Finance, regional management (Asia-Pacific as well as Europe, Latin America, Middle East and Africa) and Medical Care Services North America, Renal Therapy Group North America and Law and Compliance.

Company history.
In 1912 Dr. Eduard Fresenius commences production of pharmaceuticals. The legacy of Fresenius goes back as long as the 18th century when the Fresenius family assumes ownership of the Foundation (1462) of the Hirsch Pharmacy in Frankfurt.

In 1966 the company extends activities to sales of dialysis machines and dialyzers. Fresenius Medical Care is founded as a merger of Fresenius Worldwide Dialysis and National Medical Care. The company got listed on the Frankfurt SE and the New York SE. In 2006 the Renal Care Group, Inc is acquired. In 2007 FMC produced its 500 millionth dialyzer.

The production plants are distributed over the world, both the two most important plants are Ogden (Utah, US) and St. Wendel (Germany).

A simple human resources statement: "Many companies want the best people. We want the right people" (1)

Quality and innovation.
An interesting chapter in the annual report gives some insight behind quality and innovation. "The real challenge is to maintain our very high standards regarding quality while continuously ramping up production figures," says Matt Wybrow (2), who is in charge of quality management in Ogden.

The "filter" is the bottleneck in incrementing the production. [In layman's terms, the dialysis process is essentially done by filtering the blood in a way that the water is separated from the blood, which is possible due to a lower pressure in the dialysis equipment, and channeled to a separate machine (the dialysis equipment). Together with the water are the residuals that have to be cleaned. A too wide filter will make that the blood leaves the body too which will harm the process. So the challenge is to keep the blood in the body and only the water filtered. This is done by "pores in a fiber wall":] The pores in the fiber wall can be made a bit wider. However, there is an upper limit to pore size. If they are too wide vital proteins will leave the patient's blood.

A new production process "Nano-Controlled Spinning (NCS)" enables FMC to make modern polysulfone fiber. This involves spinning nozzles that mix two different polymers, one impermeable to water, the other permeable - and the two polymers are spun together to create a product with just the right size of pore... the fiber is given a wave shape so that dialysis fluid can flow along and between them even when they are bundled closely together inside the dialyzer.

Another measure to increase the production is to change the organizational (quality) process: from trial-and-error to Lean six Sigma. "... we would increase production output and wait to see what the statistics department would tell us about our quality. That simply took too long and caused too much waste." With Lean Six Sigma it is possible to cross departmental borders and hierarchy lines but ... "the real innovation was ... the cultural change: this is both a top-down and a bottom-up process." (2)

The problem of how to more involve employees (and raise job satisfaction) is solved by ensuring that they feel valued which involved training and improvements on communication. On this last the production process - in the operation area - is changed so that more information is made available, which helped making people more committed to the process.

Author Box
Hans Bool has 1 articles online

(1) http://www.fmc-ag.com/
(2) FMC - Annual report 2007

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Company Profiles - Fresenius Medical Care

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This article was published on 2010/04/04