Double Take: Two Pharma Industry Leaders Put Information Software to Work

Courtesy of Rockwell Software

By Khris Kammer, Commercial Program Manager, Rockwell Automation & Technical Committee Chair, MESA

From meeting strict compliance regulations to staying profitable in a highly competitive industry, pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers don’t have it easy.

But that’s not to say their job can’t be made easier.

Information software, tightly integrated with production control systems, can play a multifunctional role in helping manufacturers in the life science industry improve and refine their operations. A manufacturing execution system (MES) can automate the production work flow and conduct real-time electronic batch recording (EBR), which is vastly more efficient than paper-based reviews and enables management to review by exception. Enterprise manufacturing intelligence (EMI) software can provide a single version of operational truth, developing metrics, and real-time alerts and reports based on the vast amounts of data streaming from control devices, and production and processing equipment.

As we approach the start of INTERPHEX 2015 in New York, two pharmaceutical industry success stories that were shared at the 2014 Rockwell Automation TechED event illustrate the power of information software.

EMI for Global Asset Transparency

Following years of mergers and acquisitions, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has grown to become the world’s largest research-based pharmaceutical company.

As you might expect, that growth came with challenges. The company manages a variety of drug production facilities and processes in 175 global markets. In order to supply top-quality products and maintain profitability, Pfizer needs to use its production assets as efficiently as possible. As reporting applications naturally localized across more than 56 production sites, it became challenging to consistently measure performance across facilities and identify opportunities for improvement. Additionally, it was difficult for managers to get a grasp of global asset performance and comparisons since it was necessary to connect to each location to gather reports on individual facilities and lines.

“We needed to improve access to information,” said José Medina, senior analyst and intelligence manager for Pfizer. “We needed to provide a better understanding of the information. We needed the ability for users to create their own report scenarios. And we needed the ability for users to run trends for live and historic data.”

The company tapped FactoryTalk® VantagePoint® software from Rockwell Automation to develop a global EMI solution called VisionPoint. The software provides a single, standardized view of global production assets, both in real time and trend reports.

Pfizer operators and business leaders can now access the data they need to perform line-to-line comparisons and drill down into root causes for product variability. Not only does the solution drastically reduce hassle, its eased compliance and helped boost productivity across plants.

MES With EBR Cuts Batch Review Time in Half

The second story shared at the Rockwell Automation TechED event was from Ferring Pharmaceuticals. The Switzerland-based company has production facilities in Europe, Asia and South America, and its products are distributed in more than 70 countries.

Recently, the company decided to transition to an EBR system to replace its completely paper-based system and help reduce its manufacturing lead time.

“An EBR solution is the GPS of manufacturing operations,” said Jerome Repiton, associate director of the Lean Six Sigma program for Ferring Pharmaceuticals. “It guides the user to the desired destination, finds the shortest trip, alerts one to dangers, and feeds them back in real time.”

Beyond the EBR capabilities, Ferring Pharmaceuticals was looking for a number of additional capabilities in its new software suite. These included, among other things, accurate maintenance of recipe data, tighter control of production processes, enforced GMP compliance, and the elimination of manual data-entry tasks to increase operator productivity.

The company chose the PharmaSuite system, and worked with Rockwell Automation specialists to tailor the software to meet Ferring Pharmaceuticals’ specific needs.

With the system in place, Ferring Pharmaceuticals has improved its lead time by cutting its batch review time nearly in half. And in a five-year period, the company has increased its number of batches processed from 7,000 to 11,000.

It probably goes without saying, but these kinds of success stories are why we exist. The challenges of pharmaceutical production aren’t going away, but software solutions are making them much easier to deal with and increasing productivity in the process. We will be at INTERPHEX to share these stories and more best practices from across the industry. The Rockwell Automation Learning Center will be located at Booth CP-3, next to the registration counter.


Learn more about the single source for complete biopharmaceutical manufacturing solutions that gathers 12,000 industry professionals each year.


Official blog of: INTERPHEX New York -
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