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Fighting COVID-19 together

What Werfen did to keep its employees and their families safe, to safeguard jobs and to keep our customers supplied with our essential products, is a very human story about people coming together and taking action during the toughest of times. Here are just some of our stories.

Manufacturing

manufacturing

Recognizing that our products play a key role in patient care throughout the world and are crucial for the management of patients with COVID-19, all of the employees at our five manufacturing sites in the United States and Europe understand our role and are committed to maintaining our customers’ operations.

Other than the employees required for on‐site manufacturing, distribution or other essential activities, everyone worked from home to isolate the manufacturing operations as much as possible.

In 2020, we saw a significant increase in the demand for our products, most especially for our GEM PAK cartridges used in our GEM Premier systems, and our HemosIL D-Dimer products. We met that demand.

In January 2020, we created a COVID‐19 Senior Management team and developed a Readiness Plan, launched shortly thereafter, to help ensure continuity of critical operations.

Our technology centers, located in Massachusetts, California, New York, Munich and Barcelona, continued to operate throughout 2020, producing at maximum capacity, and even expanding it. And key logistic centers continued to operate, as did our Technical Support and Customer Service teams, who worked from home. In addition, our field service and applications teams continued to operate, focusing on the essential service and supporting the needs of our customers.

From the initial outbreak of the pandemic, we increased our level of key raw materials and finished goods inventories worldwide, and directed our suppliers to increase their inventory or critical raw materials. We also relocated critical inventory of finished goods to various locations within North America and other countries, helping to ensure continuity of supply, even in the eventuality of disruptions to our key distribution centers. This was in tandem with revising and updating inventory at our service‐parts bank in the United States and Canada. We also revised and updated our Continuity of Operations Plans for our manufacturing sites.

It goes without saying that we extend our most sincere thanks and gratitude to everyone at manufacturing for their Herculean efforts in 2020.

2020 Highlights

  • Significant increase in demand for our GEM PAK cartridges and HemosIL D-Dimer reagents which we met
  • Expanded capacity at our critical manufacturing plants.
  • Launch and implementation of Readiness Plan to ensure continuity of critical operations.
  • Successfully maintained manufacturing, distribution and delivery of our systems, consumables, reagents and services for all our product lines.

Corporate Supply Chain

Jordi Font
Jordi Font

Director of Corporate Supply Chain

Because of its central role, Supply Chain has a 360° view of the company and is a strategic part of our business

2020 truly was a very challenging year the employees who work in our Corporate Supply Chain. However, even including the ‘pandemic effect’, the problems arising out of Brexit, combined with the major surge in COVID-19 cases in Europe first and later in North and South America, that brought regional lockdowns and major logistics disruptions, we continued to supply our customers with our essential systems, products, agents and reagents. Without the commitment, dedication and professionalism of all of our people, this would not have been possible, and Werfen owes them a great debt of gratitude.

With the explosion of COVID-19 cases in the spring of 2020 in Italy in the Lombardy region, where our Roncello Logistics Center is located, we were forced to move part of our proprietary product stock to Tarancón, Spain, in readiness to supply our customers in Europe and the EEMEAI region in case the supply from Roncello was disrupted. On its own this was a gigantic undertaking, exacerbated by the difficulty in finding flights to import products from Asia and the United States, coupled with an increase of 600% in freight prices. Thanks to the very strict control of our operations and our long-term partnerships with our main couriers and forwarders, our supply chain costs came in under budget for 2020.

In the face of the pandemic, while in the depths of lockdown and working unsociable hours, the team in Spain and Portugal delivered much needed PCR tests from our suppliers in South Korea to hospitals around both countries and we extend sincere gratitude for their efforts.

So, what were the keys to our success during this extraordinary time? Harmonizing our processes, creating priorities, collaborating and communicating within our own team and other Werfen teams, as well as fully informing and engaging with our people, were all key: indicating the strategic importance of supply chain management to our business.

As never before, the tremendous capabilities and resourcefulness of our people came to the fore in 2020.

2020 Highlights

  • Start-up of operations in January, 2021 of UK distribution site in Warrington, England, to serve our customers in the UK, given uncertainty of Brexit trade deal terms.
  • Closure of our Asia Pacific hub in March 2020 and products now handled from Roncello and Devens, MA (USA) logistics centers.
  • Managing significant increase in production, supply and distribution of D-Dimer and GEM® Premier products.
  • Managing unprecedented demand for PCR tests in Spain and Portugal.

Field services helping our customers fight the pandemic

Our field service engineers around the world came to the aid of our customers when they needed us most. There are myriad stories of their acts of personal courage, unwavering commitment to our customers and going way beyond what could reasonably be expected of them. Here are just two examples, from the United States and Brazil.

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Supporting the US Navy Ship, Mercy, Floating Hospital docked for patient care during the pandemic

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Our Applications Consultant and Field Service engineers were called into action on the USNS Mercy, docked in California.

After security checkpoints and hours waiting for negative COVID-19 test results, they boarded and performed maintenance on two ACL Elite® Hemostasis systems, and trained lab staff.

Their work was appreciated and essential to ensure the proper operation and accuracy for critical patient care.

Other contributions to our customers in crisis in the United States.

  • Providing 29 loaner GEM® Premier systems and GEM PAKs
  • 11 hospitals in New York City
  • 16 total in the United States
  • Concept to customer delivery in three days

Field services in Brazil helps customer improve D-dimer testing in fight against COVID-19

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Because patients who test positive for COVID-19 can have elevated D-dimer levels, fast and reliable D-dimer results are critical. To help achieve this, the Werfen team in Brazil successfully converted several hospitals in important hospital and laboratory networks in the country, to HemosIL® D-Dimer 500 and D-Dimer HS 500 assays.

Many of these hospitals had been using competitor solutions for D-dimer testing which required manual intervention. With HemosIL D-Dimer 500 and D-Dimer HS 500 assays these hospitals could automatically test more samples in less time and therefore boost their efficiency. And with cap-piercing on ACL TOP CTS systems, the need to open potentially contaminated samples was eliminated, enhancing lab technician safety.

As a result of these efforts, patients and laboratorians benefitted from a rapid response to critical diagnostic needs.

Staying connected

Lucía Del Moral
Lucia del Moral Haworth

VP Global Human Resources and Communications

For the past 20 years scientists had been predicting a global pandemic, but many of us did not think it would happen in our lifetime and that it would have the dramatic consequences that it has had. What we all agree on is that it will go down in history as a singular event that impacted us all.

As we faced the enormity of the situation, our Senior Leaders put together a strategy and an action plan for our business – foremost in our minds was the health and safety of our people and their families. The majority of our frontline staff were sent home and we isolated and introduced shiftwork at our manufacturing, distribution and service departments and provided employees with the necessary protective equipment, so that we could continue to manufacture our life-saving instruments, reagents and cartridges for hospitals and labs around the world. Everyone involved in this mammoth task—and it should be remembered that we fulfilled every order in a timely fashion— is to be congratulated for their courage and resilience.

Our second priority was to ensure that our employees were provided with the resources to do their jobs remotely and to stay in close touch with them. One of our many objectives was to connect with them frequently, through emails, their people managers, and Microsoft Teams meetings. We encouraged formal and informal communications amongst team members and our sites and affiliates came up with different, engaging and very creative ways of staying connected (sharing our favorite songs, engaging in a monthly activity, creating fun department videos featuring all team members, etc).

Back in May 2018, Carlos Pascual, our CEO, had initiated a series of video broadcasts, CEO Talks, in which he spoke about Werfen’s strategy, plans, business objectives and our values. During 2020, beginning in March, these talks took on new meaning as he reported on the impact of COVID-19 on our employees and business. He stressed that we had the financial strength to weather the crisis and shared stories from healthcare professionals about how our systems and solutions were helping them make the best possible decisions for their patients. His talks provided our staff with the support, encouragement, and comfort they needed during these extremely difficult times.

A few months into the crisis we released a survey, addressed to all our employees, to find out how they were coping and to ask what more we could do to support them. We received an overwhelmingly positive response and found out that our employees were well connected to their line managers and teams and appreciated that they had been provided with the technology they needed to work effectively from home.

We have received dozens of messages of support from grateful customers praising the efforts of our people. It is Werfen that is indebted to all our employees who went the extra mile for our customers, healthcare professionals and other stakeholders.

We will come out of the pandemic. But we will not forget our valiant people who did so much for society when humanity needed it most.

The majority of respondents believe the safety measures and procedures implemented have been appropriate and have been communicated well.

Have the COVID-19 local safety procedures and processes been appropriately communicated to you?(By local we refer to the Company, Affiliate, warehouse, logistic center, Werfen Tower, etc., where you are located)

Have these safety measures been appropriate?

The majority of respondents say that their manager has kept the team connected and focused during the last few months.

Has your line manager kept the team connected and focused during these last couple of months?

Yes
No
Other

The power of a learning organization

Krissi Osborn
Krissi Osborn

Senior Global HR Manager

Digital learning initiatives kept our people connected, while learning how to remote work and remain productive.

'This was not on my agenda', is one of the thoughts that ran through my head when news broke of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. With our Senior Leaders sending the vast majority of our 5,500 employees around the globe home to work to safeguard their health and welfare, my colleagues and I were faced with the situation of trying to keep our people connected, motivated and productive – online.

Realizing the enormity of the situation, both from a logistics and pedagogic point of view, our Global Human Resources team held a series of online meetings to figure out how to help our people, in very practical ways, to cope with the rigors of remote working and staying connected with one another. We decided to produce a series of online courses, something that was completely new to us. Called 'Virtual Classrooms' we launched these courses via our intranet and delivered them on Microsoft Teams.

We started in April, 2020 with: Introduction to Microsoft Teams and Outlook, Productivity in the Virtual World, Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace and Think Different: Creativity in Your Day to Day.

The response and feedback we received was truly amazing, with an average of 600 people enrolling in each course and with nearly 2,000 employees registering into at least one of the eventual 11 courses we had throughout 2020. In total, more than 30% of our global workforce participated in one of our Virtual Classroom Sessions.

In parallel, the pandemic accelerated the need for us to develop our own learning platform. Following the success of a pilot project we launched in March 2020, with a series of ten 15-minute courses, we started developing our own learning platform 'WeLearn'.

With the goal of supporting our employees in their individual development and career growth, WeLearn is an easy-to-navigate digital platform that delivers immediate, virtual learning options with over 150 inspiring, insightful and stimulating proprietary and third-party e-learning courses that teach our people new capabilities and enable their professional development.

As we look forward to 2021 and beyond, there is no doubt that 2020 was the year that Werfen truly reinforced its position as a learning and digital organization.

Virtual training for distributors in China

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2020 was a challenging year for the whole world. China was the first to be impacted by COVID-19, the first to start working remotely from home, and the first to implement innovative ways to provide support to customers.

GEM® Premier™ 5000 blood systems were introduced in China during the COVID-19 pandemic. To safely, efficiently and intuitively conduct related training for our distributors under such circumstances, the Technical Service Department rose to the challenge by setting up a 'Remote Service Training Studio.'

In the live training studio, our engineers showcased the daily operation of our instruments in detail, and also demonstrated how to solve problems or issues. They even created 20 video clips to provide our distributors with high-quality remote training material.

Australia goes remote in a flash

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During 2020, we were challenged to find creative ways to continue to provide our customers the very highest level of customer support. We launched Help Lightning, a merged reality and virtual interaction application that blends local and remote collaborative video streams to give or receive interactive help anywhere. Combining the power of video calling with real time interaction, this tool was effectively used for both customer training and internal service training.

Natasha Kearey, Clinical Applications Specialist, Acute Care, uses the tool regularly. She shares her experience with a new installation of a ROTEM® sigma viscoelastic testing system:
"...the state of Victoria was forced into lockdown, further delivery of face-to-face training was not possible. Help Lightning meant that I could ‘be there’ with the newly trained advanced users in the operating theatre to become comfortable with the ongoing maintenance and quality control for the ROTEM sigma system. I was able to freeze the image, draw on the screen, and use my hands in their environment to help with their learning. We were able to pinpoint the exact issue to ensure the engineer would have the right part and avoid multiple call outs. Help Lightning can speed up the troubleshooting process especially in situations where more advanced users are not available."

2020 also saw the continuation of the NSW Health Pathology ACL TOP® rollout of 72 systems. Help Lightning has helped to support this large group of new operators, dispersed across a large geographic area.

We also pushed the boundaries of innovation in the area of training and ventured into the exciting world of Virtual Reality . We are working in partnership to develop the world´s first fully immersive training experience for GEM® Premier™ 5000 system operator training. This new initiative enables users to train independently, in a safe environment, without the need for Werfen's acute care specialists to be on-site. This self-guided experience has been designed for those clinical units where access may be greatly diminished but operator training is still required. This world first initiative is still in development and we look forward to taking this further in 2021.

We did it together

Jaume Dosta
Jaume Dosta

General Manager, Spain and Portugal

2020 was a highly unusual year for everyone and Spain was no exception. The pandemic took our customers, companies and health authorities by surprise. What made us different is how we reacted to something so unpredictable.

Within 48 hours of learning about the pandemic, we implemented ‘Home Office’, enabling all of our people to work from home. At the same time, we began to receive numerous requests to supply COVID-19 detection kits, something we did not have in our portfolio. We located suppliers, but in the weeks that followed we discovered that no worldwide supplier could possibly match the demand. The number of orders skyrocketed, at the same time as requests for the installation of more equipment, and requests for on-site support, all while our people were in lockdown, made for a very complex situation. The response of our people was exemplary in the way that we honored our commitments to our customers and to society.

During the pandemic we saw many suppliers struggling to fulfill their commitments, and experiencing constant backlogs. At Werfen we committed to keeping our customers informed of our efforts to supply them with product, while offering the best possible service. As a result, we received multiple expressions of appreciation and gratitude for the support that we have given them.

As we look forward to 2021, against the backdrop of the pandemic, we can look back at the enormous amount of work done by the team to achieve an incredible set of results.

Coming out of COVID-19 stronger, with the help of IT

Global IT Leaders
Global IT Leaders

Joaquim Barba, IT Organization Director. Toni Ala, IT Systems Director. Olga Furmanowska, IT Analyst Programmer. Toni Ruiz, Deputy CIO. Esteban Escudero, IT Operator. Pablo Penalva, CIO. Josep Viladomat, IT Development Director.

The COVID-19 pandemic was a severe test for all of us. It was a test of our organization's willingness and ability to adapt to what was a completely unknown phenomenon for us. In hindsight, because of the cumulative measures we undertook over the years to create a system as resistant as possible to incidents, we dealt with the situation extremely effectively.

Almost overnight, the vast majority of our 5,501 colleagues went from working at offices and facilities around the world, to working from home. In response to this, our infrastructure support team provided more than 800 laptops to our employees and we immediately boosted the capacity of our system. Fortunately, was no discernible drop in performance

Critically, one year ahead of the pandemic we boosted the quality of our collaboration platform, transitioning to the Microsoft 365 solution, with Teams at its core.  We provided training courses in Microsoft 365 to more than 1,500 employees, as well as supporting and promoting the use of these new environments for all internal and external communications. No less important was our role in supporting employees and also during 2020 we launched WeLearn, our new learning platform, which has been a tremendous success.

Many of the strengths developed by the IT department in what has been a tumultuous 2020 have been incorporated into a new way of working with other Werfen departments and working hand-in-hand, we will continue to improve our information systems.