Unit Operations / Facilty Design & Management

Baxter's Los Angeles Bio Plant Wins Bronze Shingo Prize

Improvements in yields and reductions in waste are key reasons.

By Agnes Shanley, Editor in Chief

It’s time again for industrial engineering’s equivalent of the Oscars, the Shingo Awards, which will be held this month in Salt Lake City. The annual awards reward companies and the teams that make their plants run, for Lean Six Sigma and operational excellence.

Representing pharmaceutical manufacturing, again, this year, will be Baxter Healthcare, whose team in Costa Rica won the silver prize in 2008, and whose teams in North Carolina and Mexico won fi rst prize in 2007. The company’s Los Angeles biopharmaceutical manufacturing facility will win the bronze award for 2010.

The plant, which includes a 269,000-square-foot manufacturing plant, a new 82,000-square-foot fractionation complex, as well as a 117,000-square-foot warehouse, employs 1150 full-time personnel, who work on five shifts that cover 24 hours per day, 7 days a week, year round. The facility fractionates 3.4 million L of plasma per year to make hemophilia treatments and treatments for patients with immune deficiency. These drugs account for over 20% of the company’s revenue.

Site managers use a plant strategic objectives scorecard to evaluate operational excellence in six key areas: Customer, Finance, Quality / Regulatory, Operational Excellence, People / Team, and Innovation.

Value Stream Mapping (VSM) is used to drive performance improvement and innovation, with continuous improvement experts embedded in each business unit to implement VSM initiatives, and for process control and problem solving.

Supporting functions contribute to this process through various means including the use of Lean Six Sigma techniques. Below are some of the improvements that the facility has measured:

• 54% reduction in process errors per lot since 2006
• 98% reduction in in-process bioburden since 2001
• 88% reduction in key regulatory audit observations since 2000
• 92% reduction in quality observations from external audits since 2003
• 63% reduction of discarded product (normalized to volume) from 2003 to 2008
• 8% increase in key product yields since 2005
• 24% improvement in inventory turns since 2004
• 48%, 31% and 25% total reduction in top three key product cycle times since 2004.
• 30% reduction in employee turnover since 2004
• 77% reduction in waste from 2001 to 2008
• 13% reduction in energy usage between 2007 and 2008
• 2 million person hours without a lost time injury.

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