Flexibility replacing capacity in plant design, say engineering firms

By Dan Stanton

- Last updated on GMT

For biopharma plants, one size doesn't fit all according to TFS and NNE Pharmaplan
For biopharma plants, one size doesn't fit all according to TFS and NNE Pharmaplan
Biomanufacturing needs are transitioning and as such there is no set model for facility design, say engineering firms TFS and NNE Pharmaplan.

Biomanufacturers are continuing to shift away from small molecule ‘blockbusters’ to monoclonal antibodies, biosimilars, stem cells, and personalized medicines, Guenter Jagschies – a Senior Director at GE Healthcare - told delegates at the BioProcess International Conference in Dusseledorf, Germany earlier this year.

Biopharma-Reporter.com spoke to plant design and engineering firms Total Facility Solutions (TFS) and NNE Pharmaplan to see how changing trends in pipelines are dictating manufacturing requirements and affecting the facility of the future.

One size does not fit all

“With so much transition in the industry, there really is no default approach for our customer,”​ Kurt Gilson, who earlier this month was appointed President at TFS, told us.

“We work with each customer to make sure they are getting their individual goals and needs meet, and we alter the project delivery model on a case-by-case basis. In some cases, it could be turn-key; in others, design-build or design-assist; in other cases, it might be plan and spec contracting.”

This means there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to biopharma facility design, Gilson continued, adding “even on the execution side of things, each project is tailored to the client, so that means that a project may be stick-built, pre-fab or modular.”

Flexible demand

NNE’s Vice President of Strategic Development, Gert Moelgaard, agreed in part, telling us that while his firm has a standard model containing a number of templates for facility design aspects, each project is normally a mixture of these and specific customer demands and preferences.

This is especially true as the company sees a growing demand for flexibility from drugmakers:

Biopharm companies focus less on capacity and much more on flexibility. Many of them talk about a ‘new pharma reality’ where the future is much less predictable than it used to be,”​ he said.

The shifting focus on agility and flexibility has led NNE to develop new offerings such as its Bio-on-Demand service, a modular plant set-up that allows rapid response to changing market needs

“Time-to-market is still important but flexible and scalable solutions are driving most of our customers.”

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