Process of Continuous Improvement Involves Employees in Acumed’s Success

December 28, 2015

From its earliest beginnings in a garage in Butler, New Jersey, Acumed has manufactured its products according to the highest standards.

Today, from its world headquarters in Hillsboro, Oregon, the company produces medical devices in accordance with its mission statement: “To aid the afflicted through the ingenuity of our minds, the labor of our hands, and the compassion of our hearts.”Acumed operates according to lean manufacturing principles. Constantly looking for ways to reduce waste and improve efficiency helps Acumed to achieve its manufacturing goals. A key component of this is Acumed’s employee-based continuous improvement program. Staff members throughout the organization are encouraged to submit their ideas for process improvement, both large and small. In Manufacturing and Production, these ideas are reviewed by an engineering team, who analyzes every suggestion and decides whether or not it’s going to be acted upon. The employee is notified within two weeks whether or not his or her idea will be pursued at the present time.

If an employee’s idea is accepted, its implementation progress is noted on a chart posted in a visible area. On this chart, progress is reported at different stages of the PDCA or Plan-Do-Check-Adjust Method, a four-step method used in business for managing an improvement process. In the Plan stage, the idea is analyzed and objectives are established; at Do, action is taken to implement the idea; at Check, stakeholders evaluate whether results are meeting objectives; and at Adjust, they modify the process as needed.

Ideas come down the pipeline on a regular basis on the manufacturing floor. One suggestion recently implemented was to create an anodizing staging rack that holds four times as many plates and screws as the original rack, improving efficiency and organization. Another idea was to create a tray for laser marking that holds 16 drivers instead of four, increasing the number of parts that can be processed simultaneously as well as saving on set-up time.

Employees enjoy seeing their ideas put into action and seeing the difference they can make to the organization. The amount of positive feedback from staff members has gone up. Suggestions have helped to improve Acumed’s entire line of orthopaedic plates and screws, including Acu-Loc®, Acutrak 2®, Polarus® 3, the Hand Fracture System, and other implants. Manufacturing is just one area where employees are invited to offer suggestions—they are also encouraged to submit ideas for improvement to Human Resources, Engineering, Marketing, and other departments throughout Acumed.

Over the past 10 years, the process of continuous improvement has enhanced Acumed’s manufacturing performance, and this performance has been recognized by Acumed’s peers. In 2011, Acumed was awarded the AME Manufacturing Excellence Award, an honor recognizing North American manufacturing sites that have demonstrated operational excellence through continuous improvement, best practices, creativity, and innovation.

In 2013, Acumed received the Frost & Sullivan Manufacturing Leadership 100 award for Operational Excellence, an honor recognizing the top 100 global manufacturing companies who are shaping the future through projects that deliver outstanding value, innovation, and return on investment.

Improving processes is just one way that Acumed contributes to making lives better for its patients. While maintaining efficiency, Acumed will continue to devote resources to the development of implants that aid in improving patient outcomes and advancing the field of orthopaedic surgery.

About Acumed

Acumed LLC is a global leader of innovative orthopaedic implant solutions. Founded in 1988, Acumed is headquartered in Hillsboro, Oregon, with offices and a distribution network around the world. Acumed is dedicated to developing products, service methods, and approaches that improve patient care.


These materials contain information about products that may or may not be available in any particular country or may be available under different trademarks in different countries. The products may be approved or cleared by governmental regulatory organizations for sale or use with different indications or restrictions in different countries. Products may not be approved for use in all countries. Nothing contained on these materials should be construed as a promotion or solicitation for any product or for the use of any product in a particular way which is not authorized under the laws and regulations of the country where the reader is located. Specific questions physicians may have about the availability and use of the products described on these materials should be directed to their particular local sales representative. Specific questions patients may have about the use of the products described in these materials or the appropriateness for their own conditions should be directed to their own physician.