How Digitization Can Help Life Sciences Manufacturers Amplify Lean Principles

This article was originally published by SeerPharma's business partner MasterControl and is republished in-part here with their permission.

Life sciences manufacturing in 2019 is a dynamic, immensely competitive space in which new markets, ever-changing regulations and exponentially evolving technologies require the C-suite to look for ways to reduce overhead and create greater efficiencies on the shop floor. This imperative means looking for opportunities to improve levels of quality and harnessing new technological tools that will reduce delays and waste, speed up production processes, and help companies achieve greater ROI. The implementation of greater efficiencies and more effective, faster processes on the shop floor translate directly to the continued solvency and profitability of your organization.

Using MasterControl in a GMP Environment

Years ago, when I was a manufacturing manager with medical device maker Danaher, I found that adapting to changes on the shop floor is a situational imperative and a critical part of production. There are specific goals executives and managers are trying to hit each year, but the overarching objective is to continuously improve product quality and the experience of the customer.

A key method manufacturing leaders use to keep operations tight is lean, the systematic school of thought for waste minimization in manufacturing processes that doesn’t sacrifice productivity. Based largely on the Toyota Production System, lean techniques can help manufacturers achieve gains through the reduction of non-value-added activities and costs.

Lean Manufacturing Principles

Five primary concepts comprise the leading principles typically associated with 1990’s “The Machine That Changed the World”:

  1. Specify value as perceived by the customer: Not just on the product you provide but the customers’ needs and wants.
  2. Identify the value stream: Rather than thinking in terms of departments, visualize the value stream as an interconnected flow of processes that derive value.
  3. Make the value flow through the value stream: Prioritize value-adding steps ahead of non-value adding steps.
  4. Pull the value from the value stream: Avoid inventory management waste by employing a single-piece flow to produce product on demand.
  5. Strive for perfection: The goal isn’t to surpass the competition in improvement but continuous improvement in all facets of your organization.

Based on a 2017 case study of Johnson Controls, a global electronic and HVAC component manufacturer, the comparative benefits of implementing lean production measures can be a game-changer. As a result of implementing lean production practices, the company experienced:

  • 22 percent reduction in safety affordable incidents;
  • 12 percent improvement in quality;
  • 68 percent improvement in employee retention;
  • A tripling of its energy savings; and
  • Exceeded target improvement in year-over-year conversion costs by 700 percent.

A manufacturer can reap significant benefits from lean practices, including waste reduction and increasing value-added production by upgrading equipment, training employees and implementing more efficient processes.

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