Many pharmaceutical facilities are facing a new need for flexibility. Unlike the old “blockbuster plants” the pharmaceutical facilities of the future are no longer dedicated but multiproduct and they must be agile and flexible. Several of the newest pharmaceutical breakthrough products are quite small products from a volume perspective but they manufacture quite expensive products.

The number of new drugs approvals has been increasing the last few years with a record high 2015 and since many of the new products are for quite small markets, the demands for flexibility is high. Many pharma companies have increased their use of contract manufacturers in order to achieve the needed flexibility. By definition the CMOs generally have good multiproduct capabilities but they also face the future need of more flexibility and agility to meet their customers’ market demands.

But there is a lack of highly flexible pharma manufacturing equipment. Most of the traditional solutions are not quick to change and clean between products because there has been more focus on operational efficiency than on changeover efficiency. Like in the automotive industry 25 years ago.

You may remember that cars used to be made in dedicated facilities many years but today car plants are highly flexible with lots of robots and modular design models to enable agile and cost-effective manufacturing.

We do not use robots in the pharma industry. With few exceptions in packaging plants or in distribution warehouses. The is a need for a new pharma manufacturing paradigm that is flexible. Companies needs innovative suppliers and also some eye opening reference projects that set new standards.

The regulators such as FDA have expressed the vision of an agile, flexible and effective pharmaceutical manufacturing sector. It is up to the plant managers, engineering companies and equipment suppliers to make that vision possible…