GE Healthcare to add capacity and automation at MA single-use tech plant
The Westborough, Massachusetts site makes a number of GE’s single-use products and this $7m (€6.3m) investment focuses on increasing capacity and adding automated equipment in response to continued growth in drugmakers’ demand for disposable bioprocessing systems, the firm said.
“We are tripling the clean room size of the plant, which allows us to bring in new capabilities by adding manufacturing lines that feature state-of-the-art automation and control systems,” Jan Makela, general manager of BioProcess at GE Healthcare’s Life Sciences told Biopharma-Reporter.com.
"For reasons of commercial confidentiality, we’re not able to disclose the production output of Westborough, but can say that this investment is being made to ensure that we are readily able to meet the continually rising industry demand. Security of supply of these components is top of mind for our customers and this latest investment confirms our commitment to minimizing risk and ensuring we are capable of meeting their needs."
Initial construction began in August but the firm is now in the process of building clean room spaces, installing new equipment, and qualifying and validating the production suites, manufacturing equipment and processes, he continued.
“The new production lines will be digitally enabled to drive improvements in product quality and efficiencies. Leveraging in-process sensors and automated equipment, we will be implementing a significant amount of automation to further enhance product quality and consistency.”
He said the firm will also upskill over 300 personnel in unison with the investment and added: "While we’ve added automated manufacturing lines, this investment is strategically focused on improving manufacturing efficiencies and ensuring quality rather than streamlining our workforce."
All single-use products manufactured at the site will be available using the film platform co-developed with Sealed Air Corporation which looks to ensure minimal risk from extractables and leachables (E&L). The film is produced from Sealed Air’s facility in Duncan, South Carolina.
“We are constantly striving to introduce new innovations that improve performance and reduce risk for our customers,” Makela said. “This alliance aims to develop purposefully constructed and manufactured films for bioprocessing applications, enabling the improved performance, supply chain control, and material/supplier transparency that the market demands.”
The firm has also invested in its E&L lab in Uppsala, Sweden to support in-depth characterization of the potential impact of E&L compounds across production processes and future novel single-use technology materials.
"To accelerate the functionality of our new laboratory, GE has also invested in the licensing of IP assets including extensive E&L compound databases, and laboratory methods and procedures to help support the accurate and complete identification of E&L compounds," said Makela.
"Like placing studies externally, adding multiple E&L labs would add cost, instead we have a single team supporting all products and benefitting from seeing test synergies between product lines across our portfolio," he continued.