Beacon Converters celebrated its 70th anniversary in a new facility designed for the third-generation, family-owned company's rapidly growing business with a focus on improved efficiencies and environmental controls. The new location at 45 Mayhill St. in Saddle Brook, NJ, brings more manufacturing and warehousing space as well as four new labs for testing, research, and development. It also includes much needed additional space for customer and team meetings.
“Everyone involved in the manufacturing chain worked together to lay out the plant, including manufacturing and QA areas as well as the warehouse,” Jackie Daly Johnson, president of Beacon Converters, tells PMP News.
Special attention was given to designing the process flow at the new facility. The team arranged the layout of Beacon’s nine pouch and header bag production lines to be more efficient, Johnson says. “We achieve greater efficiency and work flow of materials and personnel through better staging, which cuts down on set up time and speeds turnover time.” Beacon runs two production shifts, and Johnson says that jobs are run anywhere from one hour to up to two weeks.
“We also have room for additional equipment, which would allow us to run more machines as well as hire more staff as needed,” she says. Dedicated training rooms are in place to support continuing education without disrupting production areas.
There is also a separate die-cutting, printing, and slitting room. This part of Beacon’s business has grown considerably as customers look to streamline their product footprint, the company reports. A new dedicated space accommodates product prototyping and manufacturing.
Warehousing, too, was made more efficient. “Our raw materials come in one door and go out another for converting,” explains Johnson. “It makes the process more efficient and convenient.”
The new plant has 50% more warehouse space and large floor-to-ceiling racks. The flow of materials was designed into the layout of the warehouse and racks. This allows for efficient placement of materials, and segregated areas for items such as Legacy and Transition Tyvek, the company reports.
Beacon maintains a controlled environment at the new facility, employing positive air flow and stringent controls. “We have an environment similar to our customers’ environments,” explains Kathleen Daly Mascolo, vice president and director of sales and marketing, referring to Beacon’s medical device manufacturer customers. Adds Marie Tkacik, director of product development and optimization: “We have had excellent feedback from our customers that have visited our new facility when they see the manufacturing environments. We are monitoring key metrics toward a longer term goal of certified cleanrooms.”
Production employees wear “shoes that are kept on site so that this dedicated footwear eliminates shoes as a source for bringing in contaminants from outside the manufacturing areas,” she adds. “Protective apparel is laundered on site, which is also more sustainable.”
Beacon also worked with the Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center at Hackensack University Medical Center (HUMC) to establish cleaning regimens that utilize Greening the Cleaning (GTC) products, says Johnson. “These are the same products that are used at Hackensack University Medical Center,” she says.
GTC products are “formulated using naturally-derived ingredients that help minimize the hazards normally associated with traditional cleaners,” according to Nadine D’Ambrosio, Manager, Business Development, at the Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center. Beacon’s new location is two miles south of HUMC, where Beacon’s Bella the Bride was displayed as part of HUMC's Earth Day Celebration. Terri Shank, sustainability officer and director of IT and marketing, adds that “we share a common vision of reducing healthcare packaging waste across the industry while we continue to make patient safety our number one priority.”
Beacon’s added lab capacity will enable the team to test, develop, and trial more materials, says Tkacik. “In response to customer queries, we can look at the marketplace to understand suitable material options. We can also explore and screen new materials and offer a wider array.” Additionally Alison Tyler, technical director, says that “having more lab space is wonderful. We provide a large amount of data with every order and that requires a lot of testing. We also often work closely with customers to help explain the complex nuances of heat seal testing."
Beacon’s quality system is the same as it was at the previous facility, says Tyler. “All we did was change its location,” she explains. “We ran IQ on all our equipment and OQ/PQ on each product family. Some customers asked us to run specific protocols, but most accepted our IQ/OQ/PQ protocol. We compared our historical data on product lots produced at the prior facility with the data from the new facility and established that we continue to meet the acceptance criteria as specified by customers.”
There were no supply disruptions, Mascolo says. “We produced a lot of product before we moved so no one had any shortages,” she adds.
Administration and records keeping areas were also expanded, giving Beacon the opportunity for easier access to records and more spaces for meetings and communications activities.
Beacon Converters is now about a mile and a half from its previous location; in fact, all of its locations over the years have all been within 4 miles of each other. “We have a well-established workforce,” says Johnson. “We had been looking for a new place in the same area for several years, and it had to be just the right distance to keep the skill set. We didn’t lose anyone." Beacon has very little turnover, the company reports, with retirement being the most popular reason for leaving. And because the retirees are still part of the Beacon family, many attended the 70th anniversary celebration.
The Beacon team celebrated its grand opening on May 11 with customers, industry partners, suppliers, friends, employees past and present, and their families. Beacon provided the below collage of its celebration.
“We are excited about better meeting our customers’ needs through greater efficiency,” Johnson concludes. “It is a dynamic market, and this facility gives us the ability to meet changing needs.”
For the latest insights on medical product development, R&D, user-centered design, and more, attend the conference at MD&M Minneapolis November 8-9, 2017.