Feb 16, 2018

Quality Cultures Converge In New Jersey Distribution Center

With a focus on quality, Medtronic and UPS Healthcare form a unique team ensuring medical devices get to patients all over the world.

When Allen Hastings walks through the massive distribution center, he doesn’t see boxes, products, and packages.

“It’s something different,” he says. “Here, it’s a patient. Not a package.”

Allen is a UPS Healthcare facilities manager and oversee operations at Swedesboro One, a New Jersey facility which houses thousands of Medtronic medical devices.

He knows how important each one is. 

“My dad had bypass surgery and needed a Medtronic device,” he says. “It likely came from this building.”

That’s why what Allen and his team do is so important. Ensuring life-saving medical technology is not only safely stored, but expertly handled, sorted, and delivered on-time is a complex yet critical task. It’s the final stop before it’s shipped to a hospital where it will likely be implanted in a patient.

To ensure timeliness and logistics are met, Medtronic teams up with distribution companies all over the world tapping into their expertise and delivery network. But before partnering with another company, Medtronic believes there’s more to the equation.

“We can’t do that unless they have the same care and the same quality culture as we do,” says Rob Varner, vice president of distribution for the Americas Region. “And a company like UPS has a very strong culture.”

The facility isn’t your average warehouse, and few call it a distribution center. Instead employees refer to Swedesboro One as a healthcare facility. Inside its 200,000 square feet, crews work in coordination to ensure hospitals receive what they need. Some product they house will backfill hospital inventory, while others are needed in scheduled procedures within days. 

When you walk into a facility, you don’t know where Medtronic ends and UPS begins. We’re all part of the same team with the same goal.

Rob Varner Vice President of Distribution for the Americas Region Medtronic

What makes it even more unique is how UPS Healthcare employees refer to those shipments.

“It’s a patient not a package,” says Facility Manager Allen Hastings. “It’s what we preach the moment people walk in here.”

It’s the kind of quality culture that aligns with the “Quality Begins with Me” mindset at Medtronic.

“We learn quality behaviors from Medtronic and we have the “Patient Not a Package” message from UPS,” says UPS Healthcare employee Maurice Faust. “Those two messages go hand-in-hand.”

The culture is evident. Every product goes through a strict 3-check quality process and must meet rigorous regulatory demand including technology on each package allowing it to be closely monitored all the way through the process.

And every employee knows the product is headed to an important place.

“We stress that this medical device could be used on a loved one or friend. That’s important around here,” says Faust.

Around the world, more than 30,000 products are shipped each day and some of those are emergency cases requiring immediate action.

“We’ll have employees come in late at night or on weekends to fill orders,” says Dave McClain, senior director of UPS Healthcare distribution. “Then we find out that the product saved someone’s life. That speaks to the dedication we have.”

Stop any employee on the floor and it’s the same story.

“You have to get the right product to right person in the right way,” says Shawn Rollins, a 10-year Medtronic employee working at Swedesboro One.  

That kind of teamwork requires flexibility, efficiency, and a patient-first mindset.

“When you walk into a facility, you don’t know where Medtronic ends and UPS begins,” says Varner. “We’re all part of the same team with the same goal.”