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Becton Dickinson and Company goes big on green

The medical technology giant’s new 720,000-square-foot hyper-sustainable DC has ushered in a 9 percent improvement in two-day service times along with subsequent reductions in transportation and facility costs.
By Maida Napolitano, Contributing Editor
January 01, 2012

From the sale of its first glass syringe in 1897 for $2.50, Becton Dickinson and Company (BD) has grown to become a global medical technology powerhouse with sales of over $7 billion in 2010. 

For over a century, BD has stood by its commitment to “helping all people live healthy lives” by innovating, producing, and distributing a broad range of medical devices, equipment, and supplies to its many customers including hospitals and clinics, laboratories, pharmaceutical companies, government agencies, physician’s offices, and pharmacies here and abroad. 

In everything it does, this New Jersey-based manufacturer is steadfast in providing the highest standards of excellence—particularly when it comes to its supply chain. In 2011, Gartner Research ranked BD’s supply chain third in its Healthcare Supply Chain’s Top 25, recognizing it as one that achieves “supply chain excellence and supports high-quality patient care at optimal economic cost.”

At the core of this supply chain is a three-distribution center (DC) network that primarily supports BD’s Medical segments along with portions of its Diagnostics and Biosciences segments. Last

November, to further strengthen this network, the company opened a new 720,000-square-foot facility in Four Oaks, N.C. After only a few months up and running, the facility has already garnered some significant certifications. 

It will be the company’s first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certified DC—a certification developed by the U.S. Green Building Council to rate a facility’s environmental friendliness. “BD has a real drive for sustainability, and we kept that on the forefront when we planned and designed this new DC,” says Ewald Parolari, senior director for supply chain operations. 

Not only is the DC green, but it’s also safe and secure in terms of moving its products around the globe.

It was awarded with a Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) certification from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, that ensures a more secure and expeditious supply chain for BD’s employees, its trading partners, and customers. In addition, it successfully completed a TSA certification process that included an onsite assessment of the facility, designating it as a Certified Cargo Screening Facility (CCSF). As such, the facility is certified to do cargo screening in-house so that it’s not subject to a secondary screen at the airport.

And we haven’t even started to describe its state-of-the-art materials handling. With 50 percent of its orders comprised of full pallet picks, the DC uses the latest in lift truck technology to transport pallets, while case-pick orders are picked using hands-free voice technology onto pallet jacks. 

So, how did they do it? Over the next few pages we’ll share how the BD team made this one-of-a-kind DC a reality. 

Time for a change
For years, BD had been shipping products using a three-DC network: a 600,000 square-foot facility in Swedesboro, N.J., that opened in 1991; a conventional 425,000 square-foot facility in Redlands, Calif., that opened in 2002 to handle all Far East shipments; and a 650,000 square-foot mechanized (pick-to-conveyor) facility in Plainfield, Ind., that opened in 2007.

“The Swedesboro DC was the oldest in our network and basically had a suboptimal configuration,” explains Parolari. “With 28-foot clear heights, there’s room for only four levels of racking. Because of its limited height, it had a large footprint, causing material handlers to make long runs.” 

It was also running out of space, closing in on a 85 percent capacity threshold. “We need flexibility,” adds Fernando Gonzalez, BD’s manager of supply chain process improvements. “We have to be in a position to readily support acquisitions and route new products lines. And due to its age and where it was in its capacity, the Swedesboro DC would not have been able to adequately support that.” 

But what pulled the trigger on the Four Oaks facility was the fact that the Swedesboro DC’s lease was about to expire. Instead of simply extending the lease, the team wanted to take a good hard look at the current network configuration in a detailed study and determine the best option moving forward.

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About the Author

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Maida Napolitano
Contributing Editor

Maida Napolitano has worked as a Senior Engineer for various consulting companies specializing in supply chain, logistics, and physical distribution since 1990. She’s is the principal author for the following publications: Using Modeling to Solve Warehousing Problems (WERC); Making the Move to Cross Docking (WERC); The Time, Space & Cost Guide to Better Warehouse Design (Distribution Group); and Pick This! A Compendium of Piece-Pick Process Alternatives (WERC). She has worked for clients in the food, health care, retail, chemical, manufacturing and cosmetics industries, primarily in the field of facility layout and planning, simulation, ergonomics, and statistic analysis. She holds BS and MS degrees in Industrial Engineering from the University of the Philippines and the New Jersey Institute of Technology, respectively. She can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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