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Productivity Increase: Spray Drying

Increased Productivity across 6 Production-Constrained Spray Dryers by 39% in 8 months


Pharmaceutical – Continuous Spray Drying of Pharmaceutical Ingredients


  • Increase the capacity of six production-constrained spray dryers by 20% within one fiscal year
  • Build structures to ensure that site OpEx team can continue to deliver 20% improvement in following years

Project Length

9 months, 3.5 consultants working with client OpEx team


  • 9 months after project start, average productivity across the six spray dryers was up by 39% vs baseline productivity and changeover benchmarks
  • Additional productivity of the spray dryers has opened up gaps in the plan, enabling the supply chain team to team to sell more SD capacity and increase revenue

Why was Chartwell brought on board?

As a high-capability CMO to some of the world's largest pharmaceutical organisations, this client's organisation had been growing steadily over the past decade, including adding several new spray dryer lines to meet ever-growing demand.

With demand still continuing to outpace capacity at the largest site and productivity trends stagnant, Chartwell were brought in to help the production teams increase productivity on the existing assets and fit in more campaigns. 

Part of the Chartwell brief was also to coach the client OpEx team to continue to deliver 20% improvement year-on-year in the project areas, and to spread the methodology out to non-project areas. 


Key Workstreams

Target setting

  • The team used Chartwell's Golden Cycle approach to analyse historical production data and assign ambitious but realistic targets for each process step - both in production periods, and also during cleaning and changeover processes 

Improvement Structures

  • Working with the site's Digital department, the team developed tools to convert electronic production logbook data recorded by the plant operators into a visual output, highlighting where delays have occurred against the target times, and the root causes for these
  • Working with the plant production teams and OpEx, a 15-minute daily production meeting was implemented for each line, where the delays from the previous 24 are discussed, and root causes and mitigating actions assigned
  • The team also used these meetings to "Plan for Success" - flagging any escalations or additional collaboration they would need from supporting departments to ensure smooth running moving forward
  • The daily meetings were complemented by weekly and monthly meeting structures, owned by the site team, to ensure adequate progress was being made

Solving technical challenges

  • The team made use of Chartwell's cycle time reduction methodology and Fault Tree Modelling approach for solving technical problems to tackle a wide range of processes, from ineffective spray dryer cleaning to implementing batch size increases and resolving the causes of miscommunications between departments.


  • The Chartwell team rolled out a training program across the client OpEx team, with multiple tiers of participant and multiple iterations of training
  • The aim of the program was to ensure that the client team are comfortable using the Chartwell methodology to continue driving rapid improvement and sustain progress every year
  • Following the training, senior Chartwell support was given to each OpEx team member leading a project to coach them and ensure they were successful in delivering their first project.