Blogging from BIO 10 - Balance Efficiency and Innovation, Says Genentech’s Yang

While it may seem that pharmaceutical manufacturers are bitter enemies on the competitive battleground, as it turns out most of them have the same problems and concerns and are willing to help one another if possible. This was the message sent at the BIO conference session, "Management of Global, Diversified Manufacturing Organizations." Each manufacturer took one global manufacturing topic and expanded on their company's experiences. Moderator Blair Okita of Genzyme touched on the importance of the tech transfer process. Made up of the 4 Ps (process, people, plan and plant), the transfer involves formal agreements, quality agreements and philosophy. According to Okita, the key to the process is people. Somehow, you have to have a transparent tech shift despite language and cultural differences. Okita says, "There is no such thing as a stupid question" when dealing with the transfer process. Stefan Borgas talked about building new plants and understanding the associated problems with hiring talented employees from different cultures. With Lonza in the process of building five new plants all over the world, Borgas half-jokingly stated, "we have turned into a construction company more than anything else." Lonza is building two new plants in Singapore and will have to hire an estimated 650 biotech professionals in order to fill these plants. According to Borgas, the key aspect in developing new plants is to attract, develop and retain employees. Their approach in Singapore is based on a five-year plan. They started with key hires who have since been training at Lonza sites in the US and Western Europe. They hope to have almost 200 people trained by the end of the year and an entire workforce in place 4 to 5 years before the plants even open. Borgas says that in the current environment, "buying talent (by pillaging other manufacturers) has been easier than building from within." He hopes and sees this changing in the near future. He also states there has been an overemphasis on academics when compared to the need for a vocationally-trained, skilled manufacturing workforce. Pat Yang at Genentech thinks that the size of the footprint of future bio plants will shrink. Genentech has a "2x in 5" program, meaning that they want to double their titers size every five years, thus saving space. He also stressed that a balance was needed between innovation and efficiency. Sometimes these two concepts are in direct competition with one another. Mike Kamarck of Wyeth Biotech also sees a change of philosophy regarding plants. "Biology is now trumping stainless steel," says Kamarck. Switching from a single site to multiple sites and retaining efficiency requires harmonization, according to Kamarck. Wyeth has spent $3.5 billion on network infrastructure to enhance their efforts. Risk mitigation was the topic Andy Skibo of Amgen spoke about. There is risk in all parts of the plant from finance to networking to manufacturing. For manufacturing, risk needs to be explored for capacity, inventory, external capacity and internal capacity. Each one of these processes must be explored on a risk vs. cost basis, according to Skibo. Quantifying these risks is very hard to do. The focus has to be on "prevention not reaction" for a successful program says Skibo Remo Colarusso from Johnson & Johnson spoke on when and what global systems and tools can be used across a company. Factors J&J use when deciding to implement a system across the whole global network include: money - ROI; compliance issues; and cultural (e.g., process measurements). Colarusso says J&J has developed a process they call "CompStat" that is a balanced scorecard of business metrics. "We want all plants to measure things in certain ways. Without this, we can't compare across our own facilities In the question and answer session, the manufacturers stressed collaboration. The companies regularly talk to one another about capacity to meet each of their needs. "Idle capacity is no good for anyone," says Yang. "Trying to plan capacity is an almost impossible task   Bill Swichtenberg