Abbott Wins Operational Excellence Award

When Pat Kealy, an Operations Manager at Abbott’s vascular manufacturing facility in Clonmel, Ireland, recently learned that the Clonmel site had won a prestigious international award for excellence in operations, it was a matter of personal pride—for him, his team and for his site.

“My team and I were incredibly proud to hear that Abbott received the award, because we never forget that the work each of us does ultimately affects the people who receive Abbott’s products,” said Kealy. “Operational excellence isn’t just a phrase or tagline for us; it’s at the core of everything we do. Receiving the Shingo award validated not only my efforts, but also my team’s efforts, and the efforts of all our teams and employees at the Clonmel site to improve every facet of our jobs every day.”

Abbott’s Clonmel facility was awarded the Shingo Prize, a leading international award for operational excellence, by the Shingo Institute at the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University. The award recognized the site’s focus on operating at the highest level every day to deliver world-class products to Abbott’s customers for their patients. The Clonmel site, which is a center of excellence in the manufacturing of medical devices used to treat people with vascular diseases, including heart disease, in more than 100 countries around the world, received the Institute’s top award following its journey to develop and maintain continuous improvement and operational excellence through a culture of engagement.

The Shingo Prize is recognized as a premier award for operational excellence, and the standard is, by design, one of the most rigorous in the world. It is open to organizations across all industries and sectors internationally. The prize is awarded to organizations that demonstrate a culture where principles of operational excellence are deeply embedded into the thinking and behavior of all leaders, managers and associates.

Abbott’s Clonmel facility is the first organization in Europe to achieve the standards required to receive the top Shingo Prize. To see the full list of organizations that received awards, click here.

“The heart of our site is our people—people with great pride in their jobs and in the life-improving products that we manufacture, and we are very proud and honored to receive the Shingo Prize,” said William Boxwell, Clonmel site director. “Our journey to performance excellence has been a conscious and collaborative effort. Following the Shingo method, we have built on the capabilities that existed at the site, and have strategically invested in employee engagement and development. Our experience of operational excellence is akin to the best team sport—the end goal is to have everyone working together, in a synchronized effort, to achieve a common purpose.”

Mike Tarrant, a Business Excellence Manager at Clonmel, agreed: “As a site, we are thrilled with being awarded the Shingo Prize, but the real prize for us is that we have a team of people who are engaged, aligned and constantly trying to improve,” he says. “It’s no longer good enough to be good; we need to be great.”

Specific achievements at the site include:

  • A triple-digit increase in productivity over the past seven years
  • A double-digit reduction in product unit costs over the last seven years
  • The lead time from manufacturing to customer has been reduced significantly in the last six years
  • A 300 percent increase in process improvements or suggestions for safety improvements that were implemented in 2013 compared to 2008
  • Zero non-conformances in any external regulatory audit for Abbott’s vascular facility in Clonmel in the past seven years
  • More than 10,000 hours have been volunteered by Abbott employees in Clonmel to help local community and charitable organizations in the past three years

To learn more about the journey towards operational excellence from some of the team at Abbott Clonmel, watch the video below.