Vital Diagnostics provides products and services for clinical laboratories in the traditional in-vitro diagnostics market worldwide. Their clinical chemistry and hematology analyzers and reagents are sold to physician’s offices, hospitals and small-to-medium sized laboratories throughout the world. Their products and services are proven to save their customers time and money. Every product manufactured meets or exceeds regulatory guidelines compliant with Vital Diagnostics’ ISO 13485:2003 and ISO 9001:2008 certifications. With customers in approximately 100 countries, Vital Diagnostics is recognized as a leader in the industry.
In 2008 Vital Diagnostics made the strategic decision to acquire a reagent manufacturing facility in Melbourne, Australia. The decision was also made to consolidate its US operations and close its Brea, CA operation. The Melbourne facility offered the company expanded capability and the site now serves as its global manufacturer. Vital’s bulk manufacturing remained in the US and was brought to the Lincoln, RI facility. Initially the Rhode Island facility was not designed to handle the expanded manufacturing and administrative responsibilities the move demanded. Challenged by tight timelines and budget restrictions to accomplish the transition, Vital Diagnostics turned to Polaris MEP (formerly RIMES -Rhode Island Manufacturing Extension Services) for assistance.
Polaris had been recommended to Vital Diagnostics by the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation (RIEDC). When John Hardesky of Vital Diagnostics called in Polaris Project Manager, Carl Dwinnells, John recalls, “During our first meeting Carl began talking about the importance of maintaining focus on our business and not disturbing workflow through the transition process. It became immediately evident that his skills and experience were well suited to help us meet our goals.”
With Vital Diagnostics’ needs in mind, Polaris helped to locate and evaluate different expansion sites. Floor plan options were designed with incredible attention to detail. Polaris considered everything from the size of the equipment and electrical recommendations, to Lean workflow efficiencies, right down to the clearance space needed to turn a forklift. Operations were incorporated into the planning documents and as questions and Lean processes were discussed, they were incorporated into the design. The ability to move process lines around in real time on a computer model saved the company time and money before the first machine was placed on the floor. Emphasizes Hardesky, “Polaris also worked diligently with us to plot the timeline of this complex transition with remarkable accuracy.”
Vital Diagnostics’ business consolidation was completed in 2009, resulting in expansion of the Rhode Island facility from 16,000 sq. ft. to a fully utilized 36,000 sq. ft. A second warehouse was added, complete with a >1,000 sq. ft. refrigerated cooler, a recirculating deioninized water filtration system, 10,000 liter mixing tanks, a chemical compounding room, a filling room, a training center, a QC laboratory and modifications to several different departments. Throughout the development of the project, workflow efficiency was given constant consideration.
The results of the expansion have been dramatic for Vital Diagnostics. They now manufacture bulk solutions both for their IVD equipment and are the OEM for other companies. Distribution has also been consolidated allowing for increased efficiency and better inventory tracking.
“We added eight new jobs to the Rhode Island facility, and we continue to grow our business”, states Hardesky. He adds, “We are now nearing the worldwide launch of a new chemistry platform that became possible by this transition. We anticipate double digit growth from this platform alone, as well as the requirement for additional staff.”
“(Polaris) was instrumental in helping Vital Diagnostics with the seemingly daunting task of redesigning our current space and designing our additional facility in a way that truly maximized utilization. All build-out options were thoroughly reviewed by our management, with (Polaris’) valuable insight into processes and uninterrupted workflow. (Polaris’) experience helped us to eliminate costly missteps and to maintain our aggressive expansion schedule. I would highly recommend (Polaris) to local colleagues.”
– John Hardesky, Chief Operating Officer