Magazine Article | April 7, 2009

Lean, Not Mean: How To Increase Your Competitiveness And Maximize Profitability

Source: Life Science Leader

By Dan Schell, Editorial Director, Life Science Leader

By Dan Schell, Life Science Leader magazine

Eliminating operational waste and optimizing production is now becoming top of mind for many biopharmaceutical executives — particularly during this difficult economic cycle. Manufacturers could yield greater profits by developing and implementing a well-established Lean manufacturing program, with significant long-term rewards.

Originally developed in the early twentieth century, the principles of Lean manufacturing — whereby you strip out all the waste (non-value added work) from a process — can be traced back to Sakichi Toyoda, the founder of Toyota, who invented and put in place a system that stopped his weaving machines the moment a flaw was detected. Together with Taiichi Ohno, he then moved this concept from looms to cars, insisting each part was inspected immediately after it was processed and the line immediately stopped if defects were found. This new method of production was coined the Toyota Production System — now globally referred to as Lean manufacturing. Lean itself is just one of a number of approaches that make up operational excellence. Others include Six Sigma and Change Acceleration Process. “Operational excellence, and the principles involved, is a vital philosophy in maximizing productivity and profitability,” explains Victor Bornsztejn, global growth director at GE Healthcare. “It has become very important for biopharma companies to take a long hard look at how they operate and identify where waste occurs and what can be done to eliminate it. The fact is, that with a greater emphasis on healthcare cost control, outsourcing, and increased generic competition, the industry needs to seek out efficiencies wherever possible — and Lean is one key to accomplishing that goal.”