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Healthcare and Medical

Vector Laboratories: Competing daily with multinationals.

Quality management system (QMS) with ISO 9001 certification (small business scheme)

Pipette and petri dish

Key facts

Vector Laboratories develops, manufactures and markets labelling and detection reagents for immunohistochemistry, immunofluorescence, DNA/RNA and glycobiology

  • 01.

    Client

    Vector Laboratories

  • 02.

    Services

    Business continuity consultancy

  • 03.

    Result

    Enhanced industry reputation

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Overview

Vector Laboratories develops, manufactures and markets labelling and detection reagents for immunohistochemistry, immunofluorescence, DNA/RNA and glycobiology. The company serves customers in disease and therapeutics research with tools that help them precisely visualize and study tissues and cells. A pioneer in a number of innovative technologies, Vector Laboratories has been providing a continuous stream of reliable tools for more than 40 years. With headquarters in Burlingame, California and a subsidiary in Peterborough, UK, the company maintains a network of more than 40 distributors globally.

Our client distributes around 800 product types. It prides itself on its customer service, flexibility and speed. For example, orders received by 4pm are delivered the next working day. The UK office distributes US-made, finished products. If required it can also mark, label, assemble and customise certain products, packaging and kits.

Operating in a competitive market dominated by larger companies, Vector Laboratories aims to ‘punch above its weight’ and increase its market share. Central to this drive is their quality management system (QMS), which has been certified to ISO 9001 since 2002. Through formalised processes, the company is able to increase operational precision and efficiency, and ensure continual improvement at every level.

Making continual improvement

Vector Laboratories’ QMS has made for a stronger business. For example, the company holds regular management review, business planning and service review meetings. Involving all operations and sales staff, these are minuted and include action-point deadlines to maximise accountability, responsiveness and effectiveness.

Other improvements include:

  • becoming much more proactive with sales leads
  • encouraging, analysing and responding rapidly to customer feedback, and copying feedback to HQ
  • reducing paper consumption and enhancing general environmental performance
  • implementing and ensuring 100% accurate stock-taking and complete audit trails
  • communicating better with customers and launching a new, more interactive UK website, with further developments planned.

Our QMS helps us to trace, measure and act on everything we do,” says Vector Laboratories’ Managing Director Dr Ann Brighty. “This includes measuring sales order processing, delivery times and overall customer satisfaction. Our QMS keeps all staff informed of where we are … and where we’re going.” 

How we help

We carry out  surveillance visits at Vector Laboratories every nine months, and provide full certificate assessments every three years.

With health checks every nine months, there’s no room for slipping in anything we do,” adds Dr Ann Brighty. “When Lloyd’s Register visits us, it provides a fresh pair of eyes over our business. We value our ongoing dialogue … it’s useful and assists us in reaching our goals.

Insight

Vector Laboratories shares its advice on implementing a QMS and seeking ISO 9001 certification.

  1. Keep your eye on the big picture: lower costs, increased efficiency and effectiveness, and continual improvement, rather than getting bogged down with the mechanics.
  2. Avoid a paper exercise: never have a form, or fill out a form, just for the sake of it. Instead, use your QMS to make your documents and processes relevant, useful and meaningful.
  3. Continually review, simplify and streamline your procedures: retain only what works and adds value.
  4. Keep your documents up to date and constantly evolve in everything you do: don’t become complacent or fall behind.
  5. Get all your employees involved and engaged at every opportunity.

Business benefits

Vector Laboratories lists internal and external advantages of having its QMS certified to the ISO 9001 standard. Within the business, the company has seen greater efficiency and employee motivation. Out in the market, the company has enhanced its stand out.

“ISO 9001 is considered a gold standard. It gives us greater kudos and confidence,” says Dr Ann Brighty. “It helps us to be taken more seriously and it meets clients’ expectations and requirements.”

Next, Vector Laboratories is considering adopting ISO 9004:2009 principles. More broadly, the company aims to raise its market share and increase exports in existing and new markets, such as Europe and the Middle East respectively. “We want to be known even more widely for our product and service quality – we want to be the first choice for reagents,” says Dr Ann Brighty.

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