In 2004, the FDA pushed for continuous improvement in the pharmaceutical industry in an attempt to create better business practices and reduce waste. Organizations without a continuous improvement initiative often find that it impacts their product quality and their interactions with clients and patients.
The pharmaceutical industry was one of the last to incorporate the concept of continuous improvement into their business practices. One of the biggest reasons for the slow implementation of continuous improvement is because of the need to get products into trial as soon as possible.
Although this may have created great products in the past, it made the processes of making those products inefficient. Having an inefficient process of making a product can waste resources and the time of people involved in creating that product.
In the future, the pharmaceutical industry plans to continue improving how they assess product viability in order to save time and reduce financial costs, while producing a quality product.
Three ways the pharmaceutical industry has started implementing process improvement is though automation, leveraging technology, and paying attention to detail.
The use of robots has greatly increased productivity because robots can be programmed to perform the same motion, exactly the same way every time. Since humans can’t do this, it reduces the chance of human error and there is less reliance on humans. It also reduces the level of human contact with the product which reduces the risk of contamination. Overall, it has led to a more consistent process and higher-quality products.
So many processes have been automated due to the advances in technology. One example is form-fill-seal technology. Before, this process was being done at separate manufacturers and time was being wasted. Now it can all be done in the same line from filling to final packaging all done by the robots. Utilizing the available technology is essential for increasing efficiency and raising quality as well.
Paying Attention to Detail
Paying attention to even the smallest details can have a huge impact on facility operations. One example is the design of trays used to support filled plastic bags. Before there were different trays depending on the plastic bag size, but after evaluating the process new trays were designed that can fit all bag sizes. Although a simple and small switch, it changed the whole process in a positive way.
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