Sysmex, a Japanese company, is specialised in the development and distribution of laboratory diagnostic systems for haematology for over 50 years. It is considered the market leader and is one of the world's leading companies for in vitro diagnostics. The largest Sysmex location in the EMEA region (Europe, Middle East, Africa) is Sysmex Europe SE, founded in 1980 in Norderstedt near Hamburg. This also includes the production of reagents at the Neumünster site. Around 65 of the approximately 600 employees of Sysmex Europe work there every day under the company motto: "Lighting the way with diagnostics".
Distilling, diluting and analysing
To analyse the patients' liquid samples, certain reagents are needed. Employees at the Neumünster site produce these necessary reagents for the EMEA region and have been doing so since 1993. "Reagents are solutions for diluting and analysing blood and urine samples and for cleaning analysis machines," explains Mirko Müller, the site manager and responsible person for the production of reagents. They are used exclusively in the devices manufactured by Sysmex, which ensure quality and results at the same time. An important ingredient in the production of reagents is distilled water or so-called demineralised water. It is purified from germs, particles, impurities and minerals in complex processes. The addition of certain chemicals creates the respective reagents. They are then filtered, filled from large tanks, packed into sales units and then transferred to the finished goods warehouse. All this happens in the halls on Mainstraße, Neumünster.
"Ongoing good cooperation on a local level."
In the early planning phase for the production plant, several reasons were in favour of the Neumünster location. These included the sufficient supply of high-quality drinking water, reasonable land prices with opportunities for expansion and official support during construction planning (e.g., transparent building application procedures, solution concepts for environmental requirements, etc.). "This has continued until today so that we are still a welcome company in the city," explains site manager Mirko Müller.
Neumünster also benefits from the combination of a logistics location with favourable transport connections. Cooperative authorities, a local technical school for chemical technicians (CTA) and good living conditions for the employees are also among the positive factors of the location. Mirko Müller states, "This is how Sysmex was able to build up a growing production and can continue to do so today."
The long-standing cooperation with Voigt-Logistik also contributes to the success. The company, which is also based in Neumünster, supports Sysmex with goods logistics and shipping. "Our storage space for the necessary raw materials and packaging in the factory has always been very limited. Therefore, we looked for a cooperation that could offer us additional storage capacity. Voigt-Logistik quickly became our partner here and took over regular deliveries to the factory," explains Mirko Müller. This led to the optimisation of the production processes since materials and goods are delivered precisely to fit the current production plan. Later, the finished goods were also transferred to the Voigt warehouse and, in a further step, the logistics services (e.g., ready-made deliveries to our customers) were taken over.
Strengthen sustainability and increase production
Sustainability is an important topic at Sysmex. Already during the construction of the plant in 1993, the management focused on numerous measures to reduce the environmental impact. In 2016, the production facility was awarded an ISO 50001 certificate for its energy management and energy efficiency. Photovoltaic systems on the rooftop generate about 20 % of the site's needed electricity. The plant covers the remaining demand exclusively from renewable sources. However, its solar ice system has the greatest impact on the plant's energy balance, as it provides the production facility with heating in winter and cooling in summer.
It started with about 500,000 units of output and has now grown to over 3,500,000 units today. No wonder the location had to grow with it, with the expansion of production and office areas in 2006 and 2015. Today, the site area covers approx. 21,000 m². Despite the large growth, the production has been able to reduce its consumption of water, gas, electricity and waste per unit produced.
Neumünster in global supply chains
“I have been working at Sysmex for almost 18 years, and I could never complain about being bored. Sysmex has achieved tremendous growth during this time – we operate in a dynamic environment that always brings new challenges. We work in an international context, and the Neumünster site interacts with the parent company in Japan and global suppliers," affirms Mirko Müller. "For me, the position as the site manager is very attractive for several reasons," he explains further. "The location is like having your own medium-sized company within a large corporation. In Neumünster, people know each other, and the spectrum of tasks is large. It ranges from material planning to purchasing to actual production with maintenance to quality control. We form a strong team with short lines of communication in which we can make important decisions quickly.”
Investments in the future secure the location
"The current critical issues of inflation, shortage of skilled workers, fear of war and the effects of the pandemic are not leaving Sysmex unscathed and are gnawing away at our optimism. In the end, however, we are in a good position because we can still guarantee a high level of supply security at moderately rising production costs," assures Mirko Müller. A decisive factor, he says, is the cohesion of the delivery services and service companies. In the end, all participants must earn enough from the cooperation (win-win). As production, this is not possible in isolation from the entire supply chain. Here, all partners in EMEA and also all customers have to take their responsibilities seriously.
Sysmex is well positioned for the future. For the site, this means investing in new technology so that reagents from Neumünster will continue to provide patients with the right diagnosis.