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Increasing Capacity: Blood Plasma Processing

Increased output of a production-constrained blood plasma processing facility by > 80% in 18 months


BioPharmaceuticals – Blood Plasma


Increase output of blood plasma as quickly as possible to meet available demand and ensure the site turned a profit within two years

Project Length

18 months, 1 consultant


Overall output of blood plasma was increased by > 80% in 18 months

GMP compliance during this period was also improved

Extra revenue meant that company turned a profit after one year, and further increased operating profit by > £10M in second year

Why was Chartwell brought on board?

This site had run for many years at a loss - Chartwell were brought in after the parent company gave the site team 2 years to break even, or face closure.

External consultants told parent company that the site would never be viable and it would realise a very low value at sale

They had a plan to reduce losses, but breakeven was impossible because of significant capacity constraints. There were also significant GMP non-conformities that would force several major shutdowns

Chartwell were brought in to see whether capacity could be increase rapidly to ensure the site stayed open.

Key Workstreams

Fitting in additional batches

The main capacity constraint limiting the site team was the number of batches that could be fit in on each line between cleaning periods that occurred at mandated frequency.

In the best weeks prior to the project start, the production team had been able to manufacture 2 batches per week on a single line, and were adamant that more was not possible - the time would not be available on several assets

In order to challenge this constraint, the team built a detailed picture of the occupancy of every asset during production and identified periods when the assets were available. It was shown that only one asset did not have capacity to produce three batches.

Although this first pass appeared to confirm the production team's belief, the team investigated further:

  • Could the production processes on this asset be started sooner?
  • Could some of the processes on this asset be done with a different, less busy asset?
  • Could some of the steps on this asset be completed in less time?
  • Could the hold times whilst waiting for QC results be shortened with better prioritisation from external departments?

By ruthlessly challenging the constraints, the team were able to make a batch recipe that enabled a third batch to be made every week


Increasing Execution

With a more ambitious batch recipe in place, there was even less ability to absorb process errors, and the need to improve the adherence to target cycle times.

The team implemented a rigorous daily review process to review the leading causes of delay and lost time from the previous 24 hours, ensure the root causes were understood and put in place mitigating actions

The team used this process to also plan for the next 24 hours - ensuring that potential roadblocks were effectively mitigated and production could run smoothly