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Capacity Increase: API Manufacturing

Capacity of 4 API lines increased by >15% following 9 month roll out of standardized improvement structures


Pharmaceuticals – API Manufacturing (GMP certified)


Increase capacity on four production-constrained API lines by >15% within 1 fiscal year

Implement sustainable structures to enable the company's OpEx and production teams deliver the same scale of improvement annually


Productivity was increased across all four lines by >15% within 9 months of project start.

Working in collaboration with the company's OpEx team, bespoke improvement structures were developed, standardised and embedded on all priority lines, and at 3 further sites worldwide. 

A subgroup of OpEx specialists were given specific training to not just manage existing structures but to accelerate them and also build improvement processes in areas not previously covered by the project.

Approach and Project deep dives:

Rollout of standardized improvement structures:

  1. Implementation of standardized tiered-review structures, including  
    • Daily shopfloor meeting where production execution performance vs target cycle times was reviewed and discussed
    • Weekly production review of KPIs and status of improvement workstreams, providing a platform to request support, escalate issues and acknowledge achievements
    • Monthly progress review with site senior management to confirm correct levels of progress are being made and take action to redirect if necessary
  2. Workshop structures were demonstrated, coached and handed over to the client team for identifying medium term cycle-time target and execution improvement opportunities
  3. Simple roadmap tools for tracking the implementation of medium and long term improvement workstreams were created and handed over to the production teams
  4. Behavioural assessment tools were created to provide leading indicators on whether the work being done by the team was likely to be successful - and a feedback cycle created for reviewing these

Support to implement these structures:

  1. Set up of standardized KPIs to measure performance vs defined target and meeting structures
  2. Providing Production Visualizer, Lost time tracking and milestone planning tools
  3. Training of client team to fully own improvement tools and methodology and run all tiered-review meetings independently 

Key levers to improve target execution:

  1.  A daily 15 min production meeting was implemented, to review all execution losses of the last 24 hours, measured against the target cycle time
  2. Rigorous approach to understand the root cause of each identified time loss and raise proper mitigating actions to prevent their recurrence in future campaigns was coached and monitored over time
  3. Improved collaboration between production and supporting departments was installed, including the designing of new tools to ensure correct information flows and investigation methods into multi-department issues
  4. Building a historical record of all time losses, root causes and mitigating actions in a Lost Time Tracker tool for further insights and visualisation and to prioritise future workstreams

Methodology to reduce cycle times beyond execution targets:

Multiple cycle time improvement were identified with the production team during a Chartwell workshop and entailed:

  • Clear understanding of the critical path
  • Breaking constraints and fixed assumptions
  • Identifying pool of opportunities to reduce the cycle time and free up operators' time
  • Clear roadmap and milestone plan to implement prioritized opportunties and track progress in weekly review meeting

Example: How a 75% cycle time reduction of a manually controlled process was possible

On an older production line, large cycle time differences were observed on a manually controlled process in recent batches.

Together with the production team and chemical experts, all key parameters were identified that govern the process' outcome. Investigating these parameters further revealed the root cause of the cycle time variability, and a technical change was planned to eliminate the variability.

The new level of process understanding enabled the team to

  • Gain more control over the process
  • Provide specific training to the operators
  • Further refine and specify operational instructions
 Result graph Cycle time improvement


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