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Case Study: Preventing Production Downtime During Storm Emma

Posted on October 8, 2019 by Helena Graham

A leading global pharmaceutical company with two facilities in Ireland making bulk API’s for the global market, was facing a number of challenges associated with significant adverse weather conditions from Storm Emma at the beginning of 2018.

The site in Cork produces biomedicines for both the treatment of immune related diseases and new innovative cancer treatments. Three commercial products are currently manufactured on site along with a range of other products currently in development and undergoing clinical trials.

The Challenge: Preventing Production Disruption During a Major Storm

Preventing Production DowntimeWith the news of a major snow storm approaching Ireland, government warnings advised people to take shelter and predicted up to a meter of snowfall. As a result, public transport had been cancelled, shops around the country were shut and flights were grounded. The company’s facilities were expected to be adversely affected by the storm, and staff were instructed to stay at home as travel would be unsafe. While production was automated at both sites, there was a real risk of power outages which could have led to production down-time or delayed batch releases.

The company relied on external support from Zenith for the running of its day to day operations onsite, ensuring the Automation systems operate continuously and prevent manufacturing downtime. The impending storm posed a threat to operations.

The Solution: Identifying and Managing Risk

Zenith’s Site Team Lead identified the risk to manufacturing at both facilities posed by the storm and developed a plan in conjunction with the client’s leadership team. On the night before the snow warning a call was arranged to discuss how Zenith could ensure the facilities continued to function.

Zenith used a WhatsApp group to communicate with different site teams and management, staff were instructed to work remotely for the duration of the storm for safety. The leadership team also asked for several volunteers to potentially stay at hotels near the sites with a view to moving on to the facilities should the need arise. Six staff, three for each site, came forward and at 6am the following morning and the decision was taken to send the engineers to nearby hotels.

Their stays at the hotel were short-lived as the weather worsened and two of the team had to relocate to the site via an emergency Land Rover.

The two Zenith engineers borrowed bedding from the hotel and spent three nights on site to keep manufacturing running, keeping systems stable and monitoring alarms and production lines.

The Outcome: Above and Beyond Contractual Obligations to Achieve no Downtime

While manufacturing was scaled back to minimise risk, there was minimal impact on the site’s output. There were power outages however back-up generators prevented any down-time.

ZT’s focus is on delivering above and beyond its contractual obligations. As an organisation the company has a vested interest in the success of its clients, knowing that ultimately it will have a significant and positive impact on patients. Standing shoulder to shoulder with its life science customers, ZT puts the patient at the heart of everything it does. This drives ZT’s behaviour and the service provided.

David Staunton, Global Services Director at Zenith Technologies states “It’s humbling to see our team take such pride in their work.  What I admire most in this example, is that their pride manifested in an attitude of personal accountability that led to positive actions that were beyond the call of duty.”

In recognition of their efforts, the team members nominated for, and won, Zenith’s internal Kudos awards as well as gaining customer recognition for their efforts which went above and beyond the stated level of service.

“The team successfully provides 24/7 support to our sites; configures, qualifies and maintains our systems; provides end user training and provides business solutions. We also utilise resources from ZT for our capital projects portfolio, and we appreciate their ability to quickly flex up or down, depending on project demands.  In a business environment where new products are manufactured, this flexibility is hugely important to meet challenging project timelines. Partnering with ZT to access its Managed Service has been a success factor for our business.”

System Senior Manager, Leading BioTech Company






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