Grip on your production process
Kitting provides Less2Care with overview in building vacuum sealing machines
Although the provisioning of care homes is often well organised, on the flip side there is sometimes still room for improvement, especially where hygiene processes are concerned. With that in mind, Jop van Haaren, director and owner of Less2Care from Raalte, set out to work ten years ago. The result? The VacuSan: an automated solution for the safe vacuum sealing and disposal of used incontinence materials. The electronic parts of the operating system are delivered as a kit – a customer-specific package – by itsme. “As a customer you don’t need to worry about it anymore.”
Listening carefully to users and looking at internal processes in order to design a unique solution that will open up a new market is what Jop, as an entrepreneur, gets excited about. And with that same drive he developed the VacuSan that improves hygiene in care homes and takes away that typical nursing home smell. The machine is activated by a simple foot movement.
The sensor ensures a contact-free, and therefore more hygienic, operation. The air is sucked out of the bag automatically, eliminating the smell and the risk of contamination. Within a few minutes a bag of incontinence material is left that due to the vacuuming is twice as compact and safely sealed, ready to be disposed of. A professional odour filter stops nasty smells and a validated bacterial filter does the same with viruses and bacteria. In this way, the VacuSan contributes directly to a reduction in waste and to more hygiene and work comfort for healthcare workers and also creates a more pleasant living environment for the residents.
Everything on site with a single operation
By optimising a very specific part of the hygiene process in care homes, Less2Care has built a unique machine. And that can be seen in the growth that doubles every year. Today, that figure is 525 a year in Europe. A move to a larger facility is already planned. “Precisely because we are growing, it is important to collaborate with technical partners like itsme. They share their thoughts with us. For me, for example, getting a grip on my own processes is very important”, says Jop.
He is referring to the kitting process they set up together for his company. Where formerly he would purchase the various parts of the operating system from different suppliers, he now orders everything from itsme in one go – as a kit. Such a customer-specific package contains all the components. For every component, from PLC and power supply to cables and adapter, itsme has determined in advance which brand is best suited to the application.
In his capacity as account manager at itsme, Bas Veneman is a regular visitor to Less2Care. He explains that a kit consists of different brands, like Schneider Electric, Eaton, Phoenix Contact and Leuze. “Such a kit gets its own article number in our system, so that with a single logistical operation, Jop gets everything he needs for twelve operating systems. That provides Jop with the overview and grip that he is looking for. Less2Care wants to be supplied quickly. Currently, we can deliver four orders, so four times twelve kits, from stock. We keep a close eye on the weekly order quantities, so that we can adjust our stock quickly and adequately. But always in consultation with Jop.”
“For me, getting a grip on my own processes is very important”
Within a day, Jop has everything he needs to start building. “If I purchase the components myself, I have to build up a relationship with all the individual companies and keep everything in stock myself. That is risky and costs a lot of time and energy. The current working method enables us to be flexible in our production and act quickly towards our end customers. That is where the added value lies for us. And the components in a kit have already been unpacked, which saves handling and waste from packaging. An ideal situation!”
Bas adds: “Less2Care doesn’t need to take into account minimum order quantities. We purchase all the materials and divide the quantities. Suppose there are twelve cable clips in a kit and a box contains fifty. In that case, we hold the rest in stock.”
Growing together is thinking together
Jop can turn to itsme for technical advice as well. For instance, the VacuSan is operated by means of a sensor, but which brand and which type offers optimal performance for this specific application? “You obviously want the best solution for your machine, but I am not an expert in the field of sensors. So I asked itsme to help me with it. We finally opted for the Leuze brand. This reduced my costs, but more importantly, this sensor works better than the previous one.” Bas explains that at first, a laser sensor was used. The HT15/4X-M12 sensor by Leuze, however, has a wider detection range, which in turn yields a more efficient response. So it doesn’t really mater very much anymore where a caregiver places their foot. And furthermore, this sensor could be supplied as part of the kit.
“That itsme thinks along with my processes is added value for me”
Meanwhile, Less2Care produces a UL-certified version of the VacuSan so that also the North American market comes within reach. Says Jop enthusiastically: “My goal is to deliver around two thousand machines a year to nursing homes and hospitals worldwide. itsme fits in with our strategy to reach that goal, because they are able to support us in every stage of our growth.”
Less2Care delivers throughout Europe, partly through distributors in Scandinavia, Belgium, Poland and Germany. In Raalte (the Netherlands) they operate their own sales office to serve their customers directly. The production of VacuSan, too, is located there. Sustainability is important – the machine lasts about fifteen years. In addition, the company is constantly thinking about eco-friendly alternatives. For example, the chamber of the VacuSan is made of recyclable aluminium and the frame is no longer ordered welded, but as a construction kit. The frame is assembled on site, using rivets, which saves energy and transport. The company has started the procedure to become ISO14001 certified.