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From a surge in demand towards sustainable improvement

4 minutes read · 17th June 2021

Author: Dan Orford, Chartwell

From a surge in demand towards sustainable improvement

How we helped our client to deliver a significant increase in capacity of a vital drug in worldwide demand

After a team of Chartwell consultants had helped one of our clients to deliver a significant increase in the manufacturing capacity of a vital drug in worldwide demand, the next challenge was to use the learnings from this one project to kickstart long-term tangible improvements

“Never let a good crisis go to waste” – This quote has been used, some say overused, over the past few months by many organizations, politicians, and entrepreneurs. Though clichéd, it applies well to a pharmaceutical contract manufacturer the Chartwell team has been working with over the past 9 months.

The first principle of leading change is to generate sufficient urgency. One of our clients is a contract manufacturer for pharmaceuticals. One of their products was identified as a fundamental component of a drug whose importance suddenly had global significance. Overnight, demand increased thirty fold. The potential to impact hundreds of thousands of lives challenged the organization to perform at a level that may not have seemed possible before.

With the client, we formed ‘One Team’ and made ‘One Plan’ to increase the throughputs across three separate manufacturing lines. Working together, we doubled the output of two of the lines, and quadrupled the output of the third. In one building, the team nearly halved the rigorous changeover process between campaigns. This was a huge accomplishment by the team, and it was great that all of us were able to come together and deliver these improvements at a time when they were needed most.

These results are good, they are larger than any project that I have personally been involved in before. However, this high demand will pass and the next challenge is converting these improvements into a long-term gain. The senior client has now challenged the team to consider: “What made this possible?” and more importantly “What do we need to do to ensure that this rate of improvement continues?”.

Building on the established OPEX capabilities in the organization, the Chartwell team helped to identify the gaps and why with Chartwell support these large improvements were suddenly possible. Chartwell are now training and supporting the client’s OPEX team to roll out this methodology and skills to other sites and other buildings to deliver the same kind of big results.

We know that besides the ‘nuts and bolts’ of improvement processes and skills, the single biggest factor in the improvement capability of a team is their mindset. At Chartwell through our decades of work with improvement teams, we know what makes up this “can do” attitude, and how to build it up and strengthen it in organizations.

Adversity breeds innovation: over the past year the team have faced many situations where they just needed to find a way. It is this innovative, can-do attitude that has turbocharged the results. If we can bottle this mindset that ‘anything is possible’ and all current held beliefs can be challenged, and we can use this along with the ‘nuts and bolts’ of improvements, then we will be able to go from excellent results to world-beating. The biggest learning for the client has been to see the impact of an improved mindset in a team. They have now understood that they need to instil this same mindset across the organization. Chartwell are continuing to work with the OPEX team to help them to roll this out. Having not only set the platform on fire, but ablaze allowing mindsets to change is the biggest lever we have to magnify the scale of long-term, tangible improvement.