Our Team of the Year: Wyeth CH Supplier Quality Excellence Team

Nov. 6, 2008

Wyeth Consumer Healthcare’s Supplier Quality Excellence team has been selected as “Team of the Year” by Pharmaceutical Manufacturing magazine. Wyeth was chosen ahead of other applicants from teams at large manufacturers. (The Apligraf manufacturing team from Organogenesis is being honored in the small manufacturer category—see related article.) The Wyeth team will receive a Team of the Year crystal trophy, to be presented in person by Pharmaceutical Manufacturing’s editorial staff.

The annual “TOTY” awards recognize manufacturing teams in the life sciences industry that have undertaken sizable challenges, excelled in their work, improved facility morale and team spirit, and achieved measurable, meaningful results. The teams were selected by the magazine’s editorial staff in consultation with a panel of outside experts.

The judges hailed the WCH Supplier Quality Excellence Team for its success in improving relationships, and results, with its global suppliers. The team is comprised of representatives from five different global facilities. Following is an excerpt from a full article which will appear in the November/December issue of Pharmaceutical Manufacturing:

Wyeth Consumer Healthcare—maker of products like Advil, Robitussin, Centrum, Caltrate, and Chapstick—recognized a few years ago that unpredictable supplier quality issues were one of the biggest challenges and business threats it faced, and that its supplier oversight was not the best it could be.

WCH relies upon a large network of suppliers to assure continuous supply of thousands of high quality raw and packaging materials. When the network is out of synch, as it was in 2006, customer service suffers. “We were getting, shall we say, ‘fan mail’ from retailers” about late or inadequate supplies, says Nancy Secours, Senior Director of Supply Chain Operations Integration for WCH. “Supplying product to the consumer healthcare business is complex. Our customers and patients have a choice and we recognized that we needed to gain their confidence in our ability to supply products without interruption, and without any surprises.”

In response, a team comprised of supply professionals from Wyeth’s five multinational manufacturing sites—Pearl River, N.Y.; Richmond, Va.; Montreal; Guayama, Puerto Rico; and Aprilia, Italy—and Global Strategic Sourcing was brought together to sort out the problems. Using elements of Six Sigma (particularly DMAIC analysis), the group identified areas of concern, and began the process of instituting change.

On the Same Page
The first step was to create a global entity that focused solely on supplier quality reliability. Enter the Supplier Quality Excellence program, which was based loosely on Toyota’s supplier quality system and which, importantly, was identified by WCH senior management as a key strategic initiative. “They put it up in lights and said, ‘This is what we need to do,’ ” says Ron Perry, Senior Director of WCH Strategic Sourcing and SQE Co-Champion.

Finding the right people and the right team structure for the program was critical. The new position of Supply Base Manager (SBM) was set up at each manufacturing site; these individuals would be focused on assuring reliable supply of quality materials, developing relationships with supply partners, effectively managing supplier performance, and implementing continuous improvement efforts.

Migdalia Lebron, SBM at Guayama, left her previous company to take the job. “I went through the interview process and saw the passion and interest that Wyeth had for making the program work,” she says. “I really felt that the team was in charge of this program.” Rounding out the team were members from Operations, Quality, Corporate, Manufacturing Site Procurement, Technology, Operational Excellence and Global Strategic Sourcing.

In the time that it has been together, the team has had documented success in several key areas:

• Investigation deviation reports due to supplier related quality issues across the five sites have decreased 68% thus far in 2008, vs. the same period in 2007.
• The potential for a supplier quality issue to arise has been reduced 53%, as measured by FMEA analysis with select suppliers who participate in the SQE initiative.
• On-time deliveries for all suppliers of packaging and raw material to the participating sites have steadily increased to 95% from an average 92% in 2007.