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Ethicon, Inc.


Read the press release here.


Ethicon has been the world leader in manufacturing of surgical sutures for over a century with a total share of over 80% of the global market. The Ethicon Juarez facility initiated operations in 1999 with an initial staffing of 19 people supporting the manufacturing of a family of products transferred from Australia. From 1999 to date, Ethicon Juarez has grown as a direct result of outstanding quality, service, and competitive productivity. Ethicon Juarez operations produce significant portion of the total Ethicon worldwide suture volume.

Ethicon Juarez vision is “To be the best world class manufacturing operation through robust process capability, improving lives with superior customer satisfaction at the most competitive cost”. Many SKUs are manufactured in the Ethicon Juarez facility; synthetic absorbable, natural and non-absorbable synthetic are some of the surgical suture families produced; ThermachoiceTM, a device intended to ablate the endometrial lining of the uterus in premenopausal women with menorrhagia (excessive uterine bleeding) and SecureStrapTM, a surgical device for laparoscopic (minimally invasive) hernia repair procedures are in the category of medical devices families.


As part of a global supply chain, ETHICON Juarez resolves issues and executes process improvements beyond the four walls of its site by working with suppliers and customers. The entire supply chain is taken in consideration as part of the plant management strategy development for current and future years.

A Production System has been put in place as a sustainable process in the Ethicon Juarez manufacturing plant. This process enables the identification of opportunities for improvement and activities which enhance the product flow and quality of the product that reaches the customers. “Plan, Do, Check and Act” are the four key elements of the system.

Standard Lean Production Line was designed to serve as a catalyst for faster and flawless execution anticipating constraints for any new product transfer or line reengineering. Standard work for the production line operators inclusive of operator balance, product takt time and change-over times were put in place in 80% of the total manufacturing floor. Standard work has also been defined and implemented for 100% of material handlers and supervisors. New product lines such as of SecureStrapTM include standard work from day one of production.

The Plant is divided into two Business Units - Split flow and Specialties.

The Split flow Business Unit is composed of 3 lines dedicated to handling raw materials, 7 Lines dedicated to sutures assembly and 1 line for devices (SecureStrapTM).

The Specialties Business Unit has 6 lines dedicated to sutures assembly, 1 for devices (ThermachoiceTM) and 2 specialized sutures lines based mostly to meet special orders with low volume or specific requirements (Make to Order).

Sutures: Material is received and stored in the plant’s warehouse and it is then moved to a kitting area in the controlled environment manufacturing floor. Material is then assembled, packaged, and taken to the warehouse for shipment to other Ethicon or J&J facilities in the US for further processing and distribution.

Devices: Material is received in the plant’s warehouse and then moved to the manufacturing floor where it is assembled, packaged and shipped to the US.


Continuous Improvement

Embed design to value for customers, assuring a safe compliant and organized environment, integrated support systems, developing measures to promote the right behaviors and maximizing asset care are just some of the critical elements Ethicon Juarez continues to practice and reinforce to achieve a superior work environment.

Hoshin Kanri represents the defined process used to communicate and cascade all strategies, goals & objectives to all levels of the organization. This management system is used to ensure the participation of all employees, with corporate goals that cascade down to specific metrics related to the production line. Communication meetings, metrics boards, Gemba walks and electronic dashboards are part of the structure in this Policy Deployment.

Key initiatives ensure productivity improvements and are part of the day to day operations such as “Servant Leadership Culture”, “Do it Right, Do it Better”, “Development and Recognition”, “Continuous Improvement Programs”, “Outside the 4 walls” and worldwide J&J “CREDO”. The implementation of continuous improvement programs has represented the primary engagement tool that has enabled Ethicon Juarez to achieve its goals in support of productivity improvements. The integration of the Six Sigma and Lean Manufacturing has been the strategic approach used to reach results and growth following the rigor of the DMAIC (Define, measure, Analyze, Improve and Control) and DMADVV (Define, Measure, Analyze, Design, Verify and Validate) methodologies.

Kaizen is now part of Ethicon’s culture, managed by four programs that have become the way we solve problems within the Ethicon Juarez Value Stream. These programs include our New Idea and Suggestion Program, Kaizen, Kaizen Blitz and Kaizen Green. These programs lead by our production associates, were implemented to manage the associate’s ideas and continuous improvement.

Even though Ethicon Juarez Plant is the youngest of the Ethicon’s facilities, it is considered a benchmark facility in lean manufacturing processes; floor visual management, communication flow and most importantly...people engagement.


Improvements in Quality, Productivity and customer service have been achieved each time processes are transferred from other sites. As an example the scrap factor in suture business has been significantly reduced over the last few years . In addition, as a result of several successful cycle time reduction initiatives, inventory levels in the Vicryl sutures family have experienced dramatic improvements.

Ethicon Juarez has achieved the Integration Level in Lean (2010). This is the highest of the four levels in the J&J Lean Maturity Assessment and as a result, the Ethicon value stream the flows through Juarez is considered to be world class.

ME2 is a program that focuses on maximizing the efficiency of production processes, resources and confidence in the equipment, effective use of man power, operating cost optimization and quality of the products. ME2 has been a key enabler of our Lean Manufacturing strategy. As a result of this program, last year Ethicon achieved, on average, a 14% OEE improvement, Maintenance cost as percentage of CARV (Capital Asset Replacement Value), of 3.4%, and spare part inventory of 1.6% of CARV. Within J&J, an assessment system for ME2 progress is utilized.

Quality & Compliance


Customer Service

Value Stream

Community Service


John Schneider, Plant Manager   |   Phone: (915) 791-3625   |   Email: