Judges announce 2013 Facility of the Year Awards winners

Six pharmaceutical companies are recognised for their innovation and technical advances

MedImmune won the Equipment Innovation Award for its UK Automation Upgrade Project in Speke, Liverpool, UK

The judges have named six Category Award Winners in the 2013 Facility of the Year Awards (FOYA). The winning projects for 2013 were chosen from 27 entries and are located in Ireland, Switzerland, the UK and the US.

The winning companies and respective award categories are:

  • Biogen Idec won the award for Facility Integration for its Flexible Volume Manufacturing (FVM) Project in Research Triangle Park, NC, US. The facility produces treatments for neurodegenerative diseases, hemophilia, and autoimmune disorders.

    The FVM plant integrates into the RTP site, using fixed equipment in 2K small-scale manufacturing and 15K large-scale manufacturing facilities without having an impact on existing manufacturing operations, creating a hybrid network of fixed and single use equipment to accomplish variable product demands. The facility features a 100% single use flow path in a validated closed system.
  • F. Hoffmann – La Roche took the award for Project Execution for its TR&D – Building 97 facility in Basel, Switzerland. The project had to meet the approval of the city design council and ensure a good working relationship with the local neighbours during the building life cycle. The project addressed issues such as compliance with highly active substances; GMP compliance; usage of synergies between TR&D functions; building in a tight urban area environment; and a complex permitting approval. Despite these issues, the project was executed within budget and schedule constraints, while having a superior safety record.

The six facilities honoured by this year’s awards programme embody innovation

  • MedImmune won the Equipment Innovation award for its UK Automation Upgrade Project in Speke, Liverpool, UK. Faced with the lack of commercially available equipment and the tight timelines for seasonal influenza vaccine manufacturing, the MedImmune team used a system engineering methodology to redesign each discrete processing step into a fully integrated and automated production train. The team made significant innovations to equipment for automated candling, harvesting, isopropyl alcohol (IPA) spray, decap inspection, and isolation. The result was a 15% increase in yield, a 25% reduction in seasonal labour, an 8% reduction in rejects, and a decrease in waste at every stage of the process.

Merck & Co took the Operational Excellence Award for its Vaccine and Biologics Sterile Facility project in Carlow, Ireland


  • Merck & Co took the Operational Excellence Award for its Vaccine and Biologics Sterile Facility (VBSF) project in Carlow, Ireland. This was Merck’s first green-field sterile processing facility outside the US and from the beginning, the project team was committed to employing a Lean Six Sigma philosophy as the foundation for every part of the project.
  • Morphotek won the award for Sustainability for its pilot plant in Exton, PA, US. The plant supports the manufacturing of advanced therapeutic candidates with either cell culture or microbial systems.

    Built on a brownfield site, the plant gives fresh life to a previously contaminated site, which involved soil remediation and demolition of antiquated buildings. Sustainable features also include a modular building envelope system with superior insulation; louvred sunshades, a light shelf to maximise daylight exposure while minimising interior heat gain; and comprehensive water and energy conservation plans. The implemented HVAC system is 90% more efficient than a traditional building system.
  • Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics won the Process Innovation award for its US flu cell culture facility in Holly Springs, NC, US. By developing a process based on deep tank mammalian cell technology, several issues associated with traditional egg-based technology have been circumvented. The process offers potential advantages including: process raw materials are readily available and not threatened by pandemic events; and cell culture process uses closed-system bioreactors.

‘The FOYA programme is about recognising the pharmaceutical industry’s innovation and technical advances in facility manufacturing, which ultimately is about helping patients who need and depend upon us for a reliable supply of quality medications,’ said Chaz Calitri, Vice President of Network Performance at Pfizer and Chairman of the 2013 FOYA judging panel.

‘The six facilities honoured by this year’s awards programme embody innovation, exemplified by advances in areas including flu vaccine manufacturing, which is very relevant in parts of the world right now where outbreaks have occurred, threatening public health.’

The annual FOYA programme, now in its 9th year, is sponsored by ISPE, Interphex, and Pharmaceutical Processing magazine.

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