The Lean Laboratory of the 21st Century

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The Lean Laboratory of the 21st Century

 The Lean manufacturing approach has worked for countless companies in the redesign of their business operations to minimize waste and cut costs through variations of process repetition.  Some might argue that these Lean manufacturing principles have been used most successfully in recent years by the pharmaceutical industry.  Basic Lean applications in the pharmaceutical industry up until this point have been focused on factory-based pharmaceutical manufacturing concepts and cost effectiveness.  But what will the Lean approach be in the ever evolving pharmaceutical world of the 21st century, and what innovative role will it play in directing companies towards less waste and more productivity?

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12.0pt;font-family:"Arial","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";
mso-ansi-language:EN-US">Lean manufacturing principles go hand in hand with the pharmaceutical industry because they both rely on the principle of manufacturing thousands of batches of product with minimal variation, at the lowest possible price.  By determining out the most cost-effective way to develop a product, reducing as much waste as possible, the savings that accrew forin an industry as large as the pharmaceutical industry can be quite significant.  But as we move into an ever evolving technological world, what role will Lean strategies have in the 21st century pharmaceutical industry?

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mso-ansi-language:EN-US">In the Lean manufacturing environment of the 21st century, pharmaceutical companies will not only run efficiently, but hyper-efficiently in every possible way.  With developing technology, and ever mindful waste reduction methods, the Lean laboratory of the future, will be quite different from what it is today.  In the future world of Lean manufacturing, every customer-supplier connection will be as direct as possible, with little opportunity for process confusion.to no ambiguity.  With technology such as emails, instant messaging, and social networks, there is little doubt that customers might soon be speaking directly to their drug manufacturers about product information, instead of their doctors or other medical professionals.

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12.0pt;font-family:"Arial","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";
mso-ansi-language:EN-US">Also, in the Lean pharmaceutical environment of the 21st century, there is little doubt that cycle time reduction and quality will both increase dramatically.  Because cycle time is often quality driven, it is not uncommon for it to take longer to release a batch of drug products, than it takes to produce them.  Even with current Lean concepts in place, longer cycle times can disrupt the flow of the whole product itself.  In the future, however, there is no doubt that cycle time and quality will both be improved dramatically, ensuring higher quality products, with less production time for the company.Quality enhancing technologies such as PAT (Process Analytical technology), strategies will clearly play an important role in this LEAN approach.

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mso-ansi-language:EN-US">Until recently, many in the pharmaceutical industry have been apprehensive in the adoption of Lean principles into their companies, even though they have shown great success in other industries.  These fears stem from a concern that a Lean manufacturing approach will cut down on the quality control of a product, resulting in lower quality products, which may result in lawsuits or non FDA approval.  But as more companies in the pharmaceutical industry begin to use Lean strategy with great success, many in the field are optimistic of its effectiveness in the future. 

Nigel Smart

mso-ansi-language:EN-US">Nigel Smart is a
font-family:"Arial","sans-serif"">pharmaceutical consultant
EN-US"> and founder of the
"Arial","sans-serif"">Pharmaceutical Consulting
EN-US"> Blog.