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Case Study: MES Centre of Excellence

Posted on July 25, 2018 by

Helena Rogers

The challenge: Standardising MES across multiple sites

A global pharmaceutical company with sites worldwide had a requirement to standardise their Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) across four sites.

To achieve this, they wanted to create an MES Centre of Excellence (CoE) that would sit above all sites and provide leadership, best practices, research, support and training.

The CoE needed to be tailored to the customer’s needs and flexible enough to work within a disparate configuration of the same MES platform.

The four sites, in Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium and the USA, were of similar manufacturing types, focused on either large or small molecule pharmaceuticals, but each had implemented stand-alone and individual MES solutions.

Generating integrated batch records

The main aim of the MES solution was to generate electronic batch records integrated with both the enterprise and process control layers.

All sites were using the same application, but it had been configured and installed differently. Although the MES Systems were achieving core benefits (such as right first time, error reduction, just in time manufacturing and reduced batch release time), there was little standardisation between the plants.

Standardising processes

Each site also operated its own operational support and when it came time to upgrade systems, each went through the process independently, with considerable duplication of effort.

The client recognised that this was not a best practice way of working and that efficiencies could be achieved through standardisation.

Evaluation and planning

The company was aware that Zenith had successfully implemented and supported a wide range of MES projects and had developed considerable expertise in this field.

They asked the Zenith Team to carry out a full evaluation of the current systems, develop the plan to create a CoE and take it forward through implementation, management and support phases.

Before the client was ready to proceed they required a clear and impartial assessment of the benefits acquired from developing a CoE across the four sites, together with a detailed implementation plan.

Solution: Creating an MES CoE

The Zenith team approached the evaluation with its customary attitude – they wanted to ensure that the project would bring substantial benefits to the customer.

The team visited each of the sites and prepared detailed questionnaires for the client’s subject matter experts. This gave a deep insight into the current situation and highlighted where areas for improvements could be made.

Long-term value

It was clear from the initial assessments that creating a CoE would bring long term results in terms of improved efficiencies through standardisation of processes and by creating a hub of knowledge for MES initiatives to be rolled out centrally. Zenith presented the findings to the customer together with detailed implementation plans.

The Zenith team worked closely with the client to ensure minimal disruption and a smooth transition, creating a CoE that would eventually deliver benefits across 32 areas of the MES process.

Best practice process

As part of the CoE implementation, Zenith also put together a variety of best practice processes for the customer to follow and roll out.

This included the implementation of a new patch management process. In this instance the Zenith team defined the process, trained the client’s teams on it and continue to support it. This streamlined process ensures each plant follows the same procedure when it comes to patch management.

The CoE manages the delivery of the life cycle documentation, specific testing, migration and support across all sites using the process mapped out by the Zenith Team.

Our team continues to work in-house managing and maintaining the CoE and providing on-going expertise and support.

Results: Improved productivity & quality

The MES CoE exceeded the expectations set out at the beginning of the project, delivering a standardised way of working across all four sites.

Best practice can now be shared between the sites, with lessons learnt in one plant rapidly disseminated to the others. This improves productivity, quality and relationships with vendors – who now must deal with only one, unified team instead of disparate teams at the four different sites.

When systems need to be upgraded, 80% of the work involved can be centralised, and carried out once through the CoE and then rolled out across the four sites.

“The MES Centre of Excellence exceeded the expectations set out at the beginning of the project, delivering a standardised way of working across all four sites. Best practice can now be shared between the sites, with lessons learnt in one plant rapidly disseminated to the others.”

Better incident management

Incident management is also greatly improved because one team deals with all incidents in a fast and effective way.

Solutions can be identified quickly and rolled out to other sites proactively. This makes the sites more resilient and robust, leading to reduced downtime and delivering significant time savings.

By the end of 2014 the CoE had been implemented across the twelve most significant of the 32 areas of the company’s MES, with more to come.

Our client is now also looking to extend the CoE to a fifth site once MES is rolled out to a fill finish facility in the UK.

At a glance

Brief Challenges Solution Results
  • Company: Top 10 Global Pharmaceutical Company
  • Location: Worldwide
  • Mission: To create an MES CoEe to deliver standardised working, spread best practice and improve efficiency
  • Product/Services: MES consultancy and implementation
  • Standardisation of MES across four sites globally
  • Required an impartial assessment of developing a CoE together with a detailed implementation plan
  • Creation of a customised MES CoE
  • MES consultancy using experts in the field
  • In-depth assessment & review into the current situation and areas for improvement
  • Findings presented with detailed implementation plan
  • Delivered a standardised way of working across all sites
  • Improved productivity & quality
  • Incident management improved
  • Sites are more resilient & robust
  • Reduced downtime & time savings

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