Lean Manufacturing Techniques Transform the Traditional Approach
Pharmaceutical manufacturing has typically been batch oriented and therefore fairly discontinuous within the finish-to-finish “process.” But lean manufacturing techniques are starting to change the standard for pharmaceutical companies prepared to embrace and follow-through around the changes essential for a lean manufacturing implementation. This is just what continues to be happening at Novartis since 2003-making the entire manufacturing process much more streamlined and efficient.
Other industries happen to be applying these solutions not less than a few decades and frequently with marked success. The pharmaceutical industry, however, has generally been much slower inside a effective implementation. Factors adding to pharmaceutical’s dilatory adoption would be the batch emphasis, regulatory and compliance complications, the siloed nature of management and processes, and also the entrenched mindset. Lean manufacturing, together with eliminating waste, improving efficiency, creating customer value, and pursuing continuous improvement, also aims to alter culture.
Among the primary things lean manufacturing techniques can accomplish may be the elimination, or at best reduction, of waste. As well as for pharmaceutical manufacturing, waste most frequently is available in the types of over stock and waiting, both mainly because of lengthy lead occasions caused by the historic batch orientation, in addition to non-value-added activities. When these wastes could be eliminated, it makes sense a keener edge against your competitors.
Novartis has implemented lean manufacturing in many of their 23 worldwide major manufacturing facilities and it has, based on Tom van Laar, Mind of worldwide Technical Operations at Novartis Pharmaceuticals, “transformed from the traditional to some Lean organization.” Lean manufacturing seeks to get rid of non-value-added activities and waste each and every part of the manufacturing process, thus increasing the process in general by permitting a much better integration of all of the parts. Which, as van Laar explains, only agreed to be what Novartis needed: “Because we manufacture across a lengthy logistics which includes chemical operations, pharmaceutical operations, transportation, warehouse, and distribution, we wanted to synchronize the reengineered process in order that it gets into a far more foreseeable flow, almost a rhythm.” Striving toward this goal with the aid of lean manufacturing techniques has meant, in some instances, a noticable difference in throughput duration of around 70%.
A effective implementation of those techniques and also the quest for lean’s ancillary objective of continuous improvement frequently require, specifically for a pharmaceutical manufacturing firm, a general change in culture, in mindsets. Resistance originates from the truth that people don’t wish to change their customary method of doing things and in the worry that accelerating processes can lead to compromised quality. But, as van Laar highlights, “Should you just get rid of the waste and synchronize the availability chain, however, you keep high amounts of management and functional silos, you’ll still can’t gain the advantages of Lean.”
What Novartis did, then, ended up being to drastically alter business structure by jettisoning some functions and eliminating management levels. Additionally they promoted team-building to align everybody using the common goal. Further, to achieve management and worker buy-in, Novartis tracked and printed the measurable enhancements wrought by lean manufacturing techniques. When individuals can easily see the enhancements, they’re more prepared to accept the alterations.
Finally, as this implementation is definitely an ongoing quest for continuous improvement, Novartis continues its transformation. The aim now’s to get rid of the rest of the disparate and discrete stages in the manufacturing tactic to achieve continuous manufacturing. And will also require further, and possibly yet unseen, alterations in organization and culture together with new technology. But the thing is that Novartis continues to be pursuing improvement in manufacturing processes.