When the task at hand is to deliver vital products with perfect precision, quality is not just a word. It is a requirement.
When the German pharmaceutical company B. Braun needed a logistics provider with the same high-quality demands as themselves, the logical choice was FREJA. A choice nobody has regretted.
Braun is Germany’s largest non-listed company and one of the largest manufacturers of pharmaceuticals and equipment for the Norwegian healthcare system. The family-owned company, with over 70,000 employees, manufactures and offers products across the health spectrum, something they have done for generations. Today, however, people live much longer than before, and in addition to this, the demands of the healthcare system are entirely different from what they were a few years ago. This requires world-class logistics.
Freddy Wilhelm Hansen, the Nordic Supply Chain Manager in B. Braun, puts the collaboration with FREJA in the right context.
– The age-related center of gravity is changing. Diseases that were previously terminal, can now be kept in check for much longer, prolonging life. Today, more and more people want home treatment. This is possible, but it affects our industry and how we need to organize our services.
In line with the change in patient needs, the manufacturers also had to think «outside the box».
– For us to grow and be proactive, we need logistics partners who can think a little untraditionally and be able to change in accordance with the market. That’s why we approached FREJA and explained what we needed now and how we envisioned our needs for the future.
No room for error
It is hard to imagine that the need for health services will decrease, in either the short or the long term. Essential medicines must be transported to where people are treated. And in this area, there is absolutely no room for error at all.
– The transport systems we use for medicines must be of the highest quality. Thermo transport and GDP i.e. documented temperature control for products that cannot withstand temperature changes, as well as continuous training and regular revision of services to the agreed standards, are obvious requirements. A drug exposed to frost may still look perfectly normal, but particles may have formed that can have serious consequences. This is why we need a logistics partner who has a firm grasp of their business, Hansen emphasizes.
It soon became clear that in FREJA he had found a partner with a clear understanding of the task and with many of the same values.
– What has been a mantra for us in collaboration with B. Braun is to have a high standard of quality in everything we do, says Kjell-Arne Eloranta, Managing Director of FREJA in Norway.
One partner – all the way
Handling hundreds of thousands of products from manufacturer to patient is no easy task. Good technical solutions are a prerequisite.
– Take scissors as an example, seeing as there are over a thousand different varieties. Here at FREJA, we have validated systems that allow us to sort the thousands of scissors B. Braun produces from each other. We’ve invested heavily in IT systems to avoid any picking mistakes.
Another point is that we take full responsibility for the products from the time of collection in Germany until delivery to the customer. Having one partner who assumes that responsibility for quality all the way from production site to delivery reduces the margin of error and sources of error, says Eloranta. Medicines are transported directly by FREJA from the manufacturer in Germany to FREJA’s warehouse in Norway and Denmark, while medical equipment is now moved from a Scandinavian central warehouse in Sweden to FREJA in Copenhagen, Denmark. From there, daily shipments are sent to all of Scandinavia.
These are goods that, for several reasons, must not go astray. This is where FREJA’s Logistics Manager, Joar Bjørndal, comes in. His top priority is that the quality of the pharma-warehouse at Fjeldbo is of the highest degree. And with quality, comes security.
– Security here is paramount. We have very important products, but where the monetary value cannot be compared with the health-related value a high delivery precision entails. It will paralyze the market altogether if our business goes down, and therefore we have good security systems to ensure that will never happen. So when I talk about safety, I’m referring to not only goods getting lost, but first and foremost that the systems are up and running so that the quality is maintained, says Bjørndal.
Good culture is crucial
A good culture must exist to ensure that the extreme demands of quality and safety are met. This is best achieved through a common understanding of what good values are. This is something B. Braun and FREJA thoroughly agree on.
– The company I work for has been family owned since 1839. They represent excellent values. When looking for partners, two things are crucial: Long-term perspective and values. I look for management-employee communication, how they treat me as a customer, what kind of management style and foundation they have. Then, of course, other things come into play, including being willing to invest in future sustainable development. I think Richard Branson said that «only those companies that focus on sustainable development before they think about money will survive.» This is something I believe in. The results often come as a consequence of the conscious value-based choices you make. That is why we are here at FREJA, Hansen concludes.
Kjell-Arne Eloranta cares very much about the culture of the company he runs.
– We have an expression we often use in FREJA; customer empathy. It’s about understanding the customer’s expectations. We must understand the consequences of any errors. We must embrace that at every level, especially when it comes to vital medicines. Failure to do so can be fateful, he states.
The spreading of good practices
FREJA’s pharma transport and the warehouse at Fjeldbo are in many ways an industrial spearhead. But the concept of quality exists throughout the organization and is more or less automatically transferred to all processes in their logistic centers.
– The level of quality our pharmaceutical business is dependent on delivering, is also adapted to other segments in our operation. Customers with products that do not necessarily have equally stringent requirements as B. Braun has, will, therefore, benefit from already incorporated quality processes. If we make mistakes, we go through the specific case, we conduct a situation-triggered training exercise and learn from it. It costs to deliver quality, but mistakes cost even more. Reputation-, customer- and internal wear can hardly be measured in money. That’s why we have the right people with the right attitudes. It’s well worth it, says Eloranta.