The Next Chapter for Value Delivery

Enabling Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Process Robustness

By Kangyi MaoPhilip BerkGideon Walter, and Frank Cordes

Process robustness—the ability of a manufacturing process to produce acceptable quality and performance levels despite variability in inputs such as raw materials and operator expertise—has become a mounting priority in the pharmaceutical industry. The Boston Consulting Group estimates that an improvement in process robustness could mean saving as much as $25 billion in costs and boosting revenues similarly across the industry. 

BCG has zeroed in on a new approach that can help companies seize this opportunity. This strategy involves focusing on a measure known as supply lead-time volatility (SLTV)—the variation in the length of time it takes to produce a product, from receipt of an order through final quality release. Because high SLTV is in many cases the result, either in part or entirely, of low process robustness, investigating the root causes and business impact of low supply-chain performance can help companies identify the best moves for improving process robustness.

With insight on the causes of poor supply-chain performance, companies can execute a manufacturing-improvement program that can deliver the biggest payoff in terms of better service levels and financial performance. In the most recent issue of Pharmaceutical Manufacturing, BCG’s Kangyi Mao, Phil Berk, Gideon Walter, and Frank Cordes explore the importance of process robustness and identify the steps that can lead to an effective improvement program.