Luciana Acosta oversees logistics, gutrooms, the production of heparin, the Human Resources Department and even takes care of maintenance. “The two primary activities at this plant are the cleaning of green runners and the processing of mucosa. Once cleaned, we send the white runners to Paraguay, where they are selected in our new facility there. Once processed, the calibers that are sold in Argentina are exported back. Van Hessen Paraguay sells the remaining calibers to the rest of the world. The mucosa we collect from the runners is used to produce crude heparin, which is sold to our customers.”
Clearly, Luciana has a lot on her plate, as is sometimes the case in Van Hessen’s smaller production facilities. “I do not shoulder this burden alone,” Luciana says, “together with my supervisor Roberto Druetto, who is the Managing Director of Van Hessen Argentina, we make it work. Every day again.” Luciana has a clear perspective on the overall objectives of Van Hessen Argentina: “In all we do, the primary goal is to work continually on improving product quality. To achieve this, we aim to use our resources in the best manner possible.” This is another way of saying that “It all matters.” All resources need to be combined in the best way possible.
Rising up early
A typical day for Luciana begins rather early. “Normally, I get up at 5:30 to arrive at the factory around 6:30. Sometimes, however, I have to get up at 3:00 am because that’s when production starts and if there’s an issue, they call me first. The first thing I do when I arrive is to say hello to all the workers individually. It is crucial to do this because as the Manager I need to know how they are doing. But there is also another reason. Since I have a management position in the company, it is vital that I set an example. Of course, I put my money where my mouth is. If I can help them with anything, I will. Everybody is important.” But Luciana’s day is just beginning. “Right after greeting everyone, I usually meet with the supervisors to discuss maintenance, crude heparin production, and logistics. Every day is different and I like that very much. Every day, something happens that you can’t plan for. Machines break down from time to time. Sometimes, issues are raised by the union that require coordination.”
Luciana: "All parts of the productions process have to be combined in the right way to achieve the best result."
Luciana is ever so grateful for the team she gets to work with. Besides a fantastic management team, she has a wonderful relationship with the people on the floor. “I sometimes have to insist on a quality-related issue. This was something that needed to grow on me because when I joined, they were the hands-on experts with years of experience. I had to learn from them first. It wasn’t easy in the beginning, but we stuck together and made it work. I bring the theory, quality control, and guidelines, and they bring the practical experience. The collaboration improved bit by bit until I could fully gain their trust.”
Looking back, Luciana realizes that she’s learned a lot in two years. “Being an engineer, I knew nothing about natural casings. I did not know what the world of hog casings was like and that one day I would find casings a fantastic product to work with. It’s a feeling you can’t quite explain,” she smiles.
Training has been a vital part of Luciana’s experience at Van Hessen. “I’ve received training both in Argentina and in The Netherlands. Because of the covid pandemic, Corne Bruurs could not come to Argentina for a long time to train me, so we did it mostly online. It was a relief to finally meet Corne in Argentina and then go to Europe for a hands-on experience in January 2022. I can ask him anything. Jurgen Smits is also a great help to us not only for his technical knowledge but also for his way of teaching, which allows you to reason through problems in a different way.”