Since 1997, DePuy Ireland UC (“DePuy Ireland”), part of Johnson & Johnson MedTech, has been manufacturing Joint reconstruction implants in Ringaskiddy Co. Cork. Now in its 25th year, the facility is the largest manufacturing site for Johnson & Johnson MedTech’s joint reconstruction product portfolio.

“Our greatest asset is our team”, said Colm Hynes, Plant Manager at DePuy Ireland. “Our vision is to keep people moving and to transform lives by eliminating physical limitations for our patients. Thanks to the hard work of our 1,700-strong workforce, we are realising that vision every single day.”

Over the last 25 years, the site has grown and evolved to match the needs of the company’s patients, so much so that it has received global recognition. In 2018, DePuy Ireland was named a member of the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Lighthouse Network. This designation recognises the work of advanced manufacturers that are showing leadership in applying the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution to drive operational and environmental improvements.

“Lighthouses apply 4IR technologies, such as artificial intelligence, 3D-printing, and big data analytics to maximise efficiency and competitiveness at scale, to transform business models, and to drive economic growth,” said Mr. Hynes. “We use digital systems and technologies to connect our processes, enabling real-time interaction between machines and allowing for enhanced customisation and flexibility.”

Innovative development

Innovation through collaboration is part of the company’s DNA, and it is that commitment to exploration and discovery that drives DePuy Ireland to solve some of the world’s most complex orthopaedic challenges. Since the construction of the first manufacturing building in 1997, the site has been on an upward trajectory. A Global Supply Chain function was developed in the early 2000s, enabling the site to play a key role in Johnson & Johnson’s worldwide operations.

Opened in 2008, the DePuy Ireland Innovation Centre has accelerated innovative technologies and over 20 new product introductions for the company’s portfolio, driven by a diverse technical team.

Gary Clerkin, Global Leader, Manufacturing, Engineering & Science said: “We have embraced and embedded modern technologies, and that has enabled us to be agile in our processes. so that we can adapt to the ever-changing needs of our patients.”

A €36m investment in 2019 established a 3D Printing Development & Launch Centre that has been central to the growth of the company. Since then, the site has overseen the successful launch of its first commercial 3D printed knee product. “There are exciting times ahead in our 3D printing operations”, said Mr. Clerkin. “Research into next generation technologies and further expansion of the production fleet will be the next stages of growth.”

The 3D Printing Development & Launch Centre has become a hub for college students completing work placements in engineering fields, allowing them to gain invaluable experience into this key technology of the future.

Forward outlook

The company’s commitment to nurturing the next generation of STEM leaders is evident in the initiatives which it supports locally.

“We are firm believers in working with our educational partners, at all levels, to help create a talent pipeline for the future”, said Mr. Hynes. “Technological advances and digital adaption have facilitated accelerated and advanced adoption of changed work practices and expectations. We are conscious of our responsibility to ensure that the next generation are supported in their development, both before they enter the workplace and during their early careers”.

In April of this year, the company commenced a charity partnership with the Alzheimer Society of Ireland (ASI).

The DePuy Ireland Apprentice programme supports students to develop skills in areas like automation, 3D printing and robotics. The programme ensures critical knowledge is passed forward to the next generation of engineers, whilst also developing a robust talent pipeline for the company. Apprentices have the option of engaging in a hybrid learning model, whereby they split their time between education and on-the-job learning.

As part of Johnson & Johnson MedTech, DePuy Ireland is committed to furthering the opportunities available to women in STEM industries. The site is involved in the Johnson & Johnson WiSTEM²D programme, which fuels the development of the female STEM2D talent pipeline by supporting women studying STEM disciplines at third level.

“We recognise that we have a part to play in ensuring a fairer representation for women in STEM. The WiSTEM²D programme helps us to build a diverse STEM community that reflects society,” said Mairead O Meara, Director of Operations and WiSTEM²D Sponsor.

The company’s educational links go beyond third-level institutions. The STEM Academy is a Johnson & Johnson initiative designed for students from the age of five upwards.

Its goal is to encourage students to explore the wonders of science, technology, engineering, and maths in a fulfilled and interesting way. The STEM Academy has reached over 45,000 students in the past year through online and in-person events. The team in Ringaskiddy has been partnering with Holywell National School, with an outreach program focusing on solar energy and sustainability.

The aim of the program is to give the students insight into renewable energy, what sustainability means, and solar energy. 5th class students from Holywell NS recently visited the site as part of the company’s Biodiversity Action Plan and got involved in planting, visited the onsite beehives, and participated in tours of the site including the wind turbines, solar panels and the 3D printing facility.

Giving back

The company has a proud record of supporting local charities. In April of this year, the site began a partnership with the Alzheimer Society of Ireland (ASI) after a member of the team nominated the charity. Since then, they have worked together to raise awareness through information sessions, the hosting of a family fun day, participation in volunteer gardening days and, most recently, a series of Alzheimer Memory Walks on site to mark World Alzheimer Month in September.

The ASI is the leading dementia care service provider in Ireland, delivering almost 70% of dementia support available to families.

“We are extremely grateful to partner with DePuy Ireland this year as ASI celebrate 40 years of caring in the community. We sincerely thank all the CSR team and the employees for their incredible generosity and support. The funds raised will have such an impact on people and families living with dementia in Cork. They will contribute toward creating a beautiful sensory garden in our Bessboro Day Care Centre for our services users to enjoy,” said Amy Vaughan, Corporate Fundraising Manager at the Alzheimer Society of Ireland.

“It far exceeds what I ever thought would be possible”

Alan O’Halloran , Senior Manager External Manufacturing, says;

“I started my DePuy Ireland journey on May 6th, 1997. Initially, a group of us went to a Johnson & Johnson facility in the UK for the onboarding and training process. The site in Ringaskiddy was just starting to be cleared and it would be almost one year later that we came back to Cork. In those early days, we worked in temporary offices whilst the site was being developed fully. Over the last 25 years, this site has expanded massively. We are proud to be the largest manufacturing facility in our global network. The addition of a second building in 2013 and the installation of our onsite wind turbines has helped contribute to our iconic presence in the heart of Cork harbour.

“Having been here from the beginning of this site’s story, I often find myself thinking back on what the Johnson & Johnson team told us 25 years ago. They outlined their ambition for what they wanted to develop in Ringaskiddy, and how they planned to achieve it. To stand here now, 25 years later after several investments and expansion projects, I can safely say it far exceeds what I ever thought would be possible. I am proud to be a part of the team we have here in Cork, proud of all that we have done so far, and proud of what we will continue to achieve.”

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