Merck named Overall Winner in 2012 Facility of the Year Awards

For its vaccine bulk manufacturing facility (VBF) programme of projects in Durham, NC, US

Merck’s vaccine bulk manufacturing facility (VBF) series of projects has been named as the Overall Winner of the 2012 Facility of the Year Awards (FOYA).

The project also won the Facility Integration category.

Sponsored by the US-based International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering (ISPE), Interphex and Pharmaceutical Processing magazine, the FOYA programme acknowledges state-of-the-art pharmaceutical manufacturing projects that use new and innovative technologies to enhance the delivery of a project, as well as reduce the cost of producing high-quality medicines.

Faced with a projected production shortfall for the Varicella product franchise, Merck responded by delivering the vaccine bulk manufacturing facility (VBF) programme of projects in Durham, North Carolina, US. The 214,000ft2 facility was built in record time and doubled the output of the vaccine used for chicken pox and shingles.

The Merck team used an innovative hybrid modular construction strategy that maximised off-site fabrication and equipment testing. The integrated construction execution strategy decoupled the design and construction of the building envelope and shell from interior process components, enabling parallel processes. As soon as the building shell was dried in and elevated slab poured, modules were installed simultaneously above the slab. This allowed Merck to establish two independent work zones (above and below the slab) and saved five months on the schedule.

The team was organised as single group, with all members co-located in an integrated partnership. Lean six sigma principles were used throughout the project and resulted in an accelerated transfer of systems to operations. Integrating more than 200 lessons learned from the existing facility and process, the facility was delivered 40% faster than industry benchmarks. For this, Merck received the accolade 2012 Facility of the Year Awards Overall Winner.

The other winners were:

  • Category winner for Sustainability: Chiesi Farmaceutici’s research and development centre in Parma, Italy
  • Category winner for Project Execution: Eisai Pharmatechnology & Manufacturing’s Eisai Knowledge Centre in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, India. In just 17 months, the Eisai team delivered a contemporary, Japanese-style, highly automated API research and production and oral solid dose manufacturing complex with necessary support functions.
  • Category winner for Equipment Innovation: Rentschler Biotechnologie for its REX III project in Laupheim, Germany, to host multiple products and achieve maximum flexibility. The 9,800ft2 facility has an annual capacity of 10 manufacturing projects with up to 24 batches at 1,000 L scale.
  • Category winner for Operational Excellence: Roche Diagnostics, for its TP Expand project at its biotechnology site in Penzberg, Germany. The project was the result of an innovative and well engineered master plan featuring six independent projects and a GMP IT system known as DAMAS.
  • Special Recognition for Novel Collaboration: the National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training’s (NIBRT) new greenfield facility built at University College Dublin, Ireland. The plant is a medium scale bioprocessing facility for providing manufacturing research and training solutions to industry.

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