What does “Better Together” mean to you? This was the question the Sterilization Packaging Manufacturers Council (SPMC®) posed to industry thought leaders during the lead-up to Sterile Packaging Day this spring. Across the supply chain, influencers were eager to share their ideas.
SPMC’s Marketing Committee chose the theme of “Better Together” for Sterile Packaging Day 2022 in the fall when the Delta and Omicron variants of COVID-19 were causing yet another wave of illness and disruption.
For the group, the theme had a dual meaning. It offered hope that in-person meetings and conferences would once again be possible. Conversely, “Better Together” was a salute to the way the industry banded together during the pandemic, working collaboratively despite massive changes in workflow.
The theme resonated instantly throughout the sterile packaging community. It seemed that almost everyone had an example of how they had experienced “Better Together” over the last two years. When the council reached out for formal thoughts, ideas quickly poured in. From raw material giants to individual consultants and those in-between, industry members agreed that “Better Together” struck the perfect chord for the event.
Patient safety was top of mind for every contributor. For Noel Gibbons, technical advisor, packaging, at STERIS Applied Sterilization Technologies in Ireland, patient safety was personal. “We understand that the sterile barrier is considered part of the medical device, which is critical to patient safety,” he says. “We want to ensure peace of mind through a clear understanding that our customers are not just manufacturers, but they are our friends, our families, and even ourselves.”
Sarah Rosenblum, senior director of sales and marketing at Packaging Compliance Labs in Boulder, Colorado, says “Better Together” was about “the safety of people—the grandmother that gets to celebrate more Christmases because her pacemaker procedure went well. The athletes who get to keep pursuing their Olympic dreams because they have the latest new technology in knees.”
The virtual knowledge and information sharing that developed during the pandemic was another common thread. “I’m grateful for the sterile packaging industry coming together to share their collective industry knowledge with the increased use of available technology,” says Wes Bush, director, packaging engineering at Network Partners in Grand Rapids, Michigan. “As a result, we’ve undoubtedly helped ensure more patients receive the sterile products that they desperately need.”
The medical device packaging industry is relatively small, says David DiVaccaro, principal at DiVaccaro Consulting Group in Warsaw, Indiana, adding that having positive collaboration in difficult situations is key to finding win-win-win solutions.
“Being an equipment vendor means collaborating, not only with device manufacturers but also with film vendors to bring the puzzle pieces together,” says Nick Kirichkow, medical product manager at Harpak-ULMA Packaging, LLC, headquartered in Taunton, Massachusetts.
Jennifer Benolken, a certified packaging professional and medical device and regulatory specialist at DuPont in St. Paul, Minnesota, says the day was a time to celebrate collaboration. “Even though we all work for different companies, it is a day where we can come together and remind ourselves that we can’t do it alone. I will be celebrating the triumphs my tribe has made as individuals and as a community.”
Lourdes Pogue is a marketing consultant at C5 Communications in Richmond, Virginia. Reach her at Lourdes@C5CI.com.