Pfizer Goes Beyond Muda: The Secret to Lean QA/QC is Managing Volatility

The most popular piece of content on PharmaManufacturing.com for the past month or so has been "Pfizer Reinvents Lean in the Lab," an in-depth look at how the QA/QC labs in the company's Grange Castle, Ireland, site, have revamped and "Leaned" their work habits. The article is written by Pfizer's Ciaran Crosbie and Lorcan Mannion, operations practice manager at BSM Ireland, which has guided the transformation in Grange Castle based upon its principles of "Real Lean."

We've had such a strong response to the article that, yesterday, we also presented a webcast with Crosbie and Mannion about their work. (View the on-demand version here.)

Lean principles have not traditionally been applied well outside of pharmaceutical manufacturing, the authors explain, especially within QA/QC. One reason is that there has traditionally been an overemphasis on muda, or waste elimination, at the expense of other Lean pillars, especially the elimination of workflow volatility.

They write, "Chasing down muda is intuitively straightforward. Everyone on a project team can contribute to drawing a Value Stream Map. . . . [However,] we cannot expect waste elimination activities alone to build our House of Lean. Yes, they do contribute to a significant pillar, but this pillar is built on sand unless we address the other wasteful practices which are rooted in volatility. This was always the original intent of Lean. But we have found time and time again that this original intent got somehow lost in translation, whether in translation from Japanese to English or from Manufacturing to other business processes."

Enjoy the article or webcast, and share them with your colleagues in the lab.

--Paul Thomas

 

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