Healthcare 21 to implement Körber WMS for enhanced scalability and performance.

  • Healthcare 21 is a trusted provider of medical device sales, marketing, and service solutions across a broad range of market segments.
  • Healthcare 21 conducts business in 15 therapeutic segments across the UK and Ireland, with products for surgery, emergency care, primary and home healthcare, and diagnostics as well as technical services.
  • The Healthcare 21 Group reported sales of €180M in 2023 financial year and has 500 employees.
  • In 2021, Healthcare 21 was acquired by the AddLife AB Group. AddLife is a publicly listed Swedish Lifescience company active on the European market.
  • Headquartered in Stockholm, AddLife has a presence in over 30 countries, in niche segments in the life sciences sector, from research to healthcare.
  • In line with the AddLife decentralised business model, Healthcare 21 operates independently.

Legacy software failing to meet performance and scalability demands.

As Healthcare 21 has grown, its legacy software has reached its capacity, presenting an exciting opportunity to upgrade to more advanced solutions. Eoin O’Sullivan, Technology Solutions Architect, says, “We were struggling with a range of issues, but the primary reason for looking at a replacement was just down to the scalability and performance of the system.” He continues, “Performance wise, it can’t handle the volume of staff and warehouse transactions we have and it struggles to respond in an efficient manner.”

The legacy software, while effective in the past, is no longer viable and now presents a great opportunity for future growth by transitioning to more advanced solutions. Eoin says, “These fundamental weaknesses prevent the system from supporting the volume of staff we have receiving, picking and packing at once.” This means there is a significant lag when jobs are queued. He explains, “It’s a sequential system, so a warehouse operative can only start a pick once the task before has been loaded on another operative’s device. To be able to scale efficiently, we need a system that is fully parallel.”

Without the ability to accommodate the increasing demands – along with any further expansion – these “substantial performance issues” drove the business to seek a replacement WMS solution.

Finding the perfect fit of Körber WMS and Balloon.

Healthcare 21 undertook a robust process to find a WMS that would meet its scalability and performance opportunities. It needed a WMS solution that was compatible with its SAP Business One ERP software and wanted an implementation partner based in its market area.

Eoin explains the process they followed: “We sent our scoping document out to various suppliers to check how well their products could meet our requirements. Based on those responses, we shortlisted a number of providers, then took up client references, conducted site visits and thoroughly reviewed the proposals.”

Eoin says, “Körber WMS stood out as the best option for where we are now and where we’re going in the next five to ten years.” He continues, “In terms of the combination of the chosen software with a delivery partner, we knew that Balloon was familiar with SAP Business One as a number of our IT team had previously been trained by them on it many years ago. So, we were very comfortable with their familiarity with the ERP and the integration of the WMS with it.” He adds, “The size and scale of Balloon in terms of the number of clients they have and their track record of existing Körber deployments all added to the confidence we have in their ability to deliver for us.”

Operational improvements and efficiency gains.

As well as eliminating the job queuing delays and system loading issues, there is an opportunity to take advantage of improved reporting and analysis.

Eoin confirms, “We are only in the process of setting some precise targets and metrics. But with the new system, we expect there to be an immediate benefit in terms of lines picked per hour per user. More efficient loading of picking tasks will then free up availability for things like replenishment, which in turn will speed up the picking process further.”

In the first phase of the project, Healthcare 21 will be deploying Körber WMS in four of its eight primary locations, with the rest following in a subsequent phase.

The project began at the start of the year and is now a third of the way through. The aim is to deploy in September 2024.

Eoin concludes, “This is quite a large IT project and presents a valuable opportunity for us to enhance our customer-focused approach. The expertise gained in its successful implementation will extend benefits throughout the broader group. We are eager to showcase to other companies within the group our commitment to delivering a best-in-class solution. Through our continuous efforts to enhance operational efficiencies, we anticipate significant improvements in profitability, ultimately enriching the experience for our customers.”

“At Healthcare 21, we have built an excellent brand reputation by consistently exceeding the expectations of our customers and partners across a broad range of therapeutic areas.

In recent years, we have grown our business and expanded our product portfolios through both organic growth and acquisition. We are delighted to work with Körber WMS and Balloon, who can support us on our growth journey to deliver on our promises to our customers.”
Cathal O’Herlihy, HC21 Ireland, Managing Director

Balloon’s Sales and Marketing Director, Ed Napier-Fenning, comments, “We’re excited to have partnered with Europe’s number one medical device distributor and are looking forward to delivering a robust solution that brings them the scalability they require as they continue to grow.”