The Best Single Thing: CEPHEID Eliminates Packaging, Reduces Footprint

The Best Single Thing series documents stories about great decisions by product stewards.

Imagine a piece of medical equipment the size of a dictionary. Now imagine that dictionary has to be shipped back and forth between manufacturer and customer whenever it needs to be calibrated.

That’s exactly what used to happen with CEPHEID, a manufacturer of rapid disease-diagnostic devices. Each device could have from one to 80 modules, each one needing to be routinely calibrated. CEPHEID would supply packaging to customers, who would put the module in the box and ship it to them. The manufacturer would calibrate the module and then ship it back.

In an effort to reduce the energy consumed on packaging production and fuel, CEPHEID looked for a more sustainable solution. So the company’s software team developed a method of ‘remote calibration.’ Now customers hook their devices to the internet and CEPHEID evaluates the calibration remotely. “It’s no longer packaged and transported, unless for some reason it’s a failed calibration,” says Paul Norton, director of environmental health and safety & product safety. “Based on the weight of the packaging and product, we estimate a reduction of 215 million kg of CO2 that’s no longer generated from module transportation.”

Norton calls this a success story because of how closely product stewardship and business interests aligned. “It’s blending wo things together. Companies want to save money, and that drives them to reduce packaging and shipping costs,” he says. “But when you can pull in the sustainability person or the product safety person into the conversation, they can work in tandem rather than one before the other.”


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