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Case Study: Reducing the learning time at leading Pharma company by 90%, whilst maintaining quality and minimising impact on production

Posted on February 8, 2019 by Helena Rogers

Setting the Scene

At the start of the biopharmaceutical industry, the skills of the operators were very high because the factories were run by bioprocess engineers and scientists as they developed the institutional capability.  With the success of mAb products, the number of facilities has significantly increased.  The resulting demand for operators is increasing while their starting skill level is decreasing.

This leaves the biopharmaceutical industry facing one of its most significant challenges, which is how to take low skilled operators and train them quickly to run sophisticated biopharmaceutical facilities.

Our customers have a commercial and regulatory obligation to continuously build capability in their workforce.  Training in all its forms is a key feature of capability building.

This training should be appropriate for their duties, continuous to keep skills up to date and its practical effectiveness periodically assessed.

Customer Challenge: Improving the efficiency of learning

A world leading pharmaceutical company operating within the fields of oncology, immunology, neuroscience, infectious disease and cardiovascular disease, own a manufacturing site in Cork, Ireland.

The company operates two production automation control systems at its facility: Sattline and Industrial IT, both from ABB. These are utilised by a team of 80 operations personnel experts, who are joined by 10 new employees hired by the company each year.

As is often the case with pharmaceutical sites, the processes used within the plant and the manner in which control systems produce the product, are unique. The new hires, even if highly experienced, therefore require considerable extra training. This is estimated at taking a total of 41 hours and is provided by automation engineers who are withdrawn from their front-line duties.

To minimise the disruption caused by such training, the company approached Zenith to provide an online alternative in the form of a focused e-learning package set to save time and reduce costs.

Solution: An Online Replacement

ZT consultants spent a week with the company discussing the requirements, courses and content in detail. This early engagement and supply of resources from the client proved to be a vital component in the success of the project.

Our teams analysed the training and content, eliminating any duplications and identifying elements which could be provided as reference material. The remaining core content was then condensed into four hours of high quality interactive online learning. Two curricula were produced – one for each of the control systems – with six core modules in each. Six key audiences were established, including: operators; maintenance teams; the advanced operations group; production managers; QA approvers and supervisors.

The training equipped the new hires with a solid grounding in the operation and management of the control systems used in the plant. It also provided insight into the unique customisations and processes used specifically at the Little Island facility. The courses helped to ensure that all staff worked in line with both regulatory compliance and best practice guidelines.

Our Offering

ZT deliver high quality customised instructor-led and eLearning focused on capability development. We design customised training for the key roles in your manufacturing organisation.  Based on your system and operating practices, with the look and feel of your graphics, naming conventions, control and recipe conventions.

To deliver customised training requires a customised training system.  When built to deliver reliable exercises that develop capability, customised training systems can be expensive to create, licence and maintain.

We have developed a solution that captures capability building exercises and deploys them to standard business computers without installation.

Customer Results

The 41 hours of classroom training were reduced to 4 hours of interactive and engaging online learning. The online modules removed the need to schedule training programmes and take automation engineers away from their front-line roles.

Training is no longer dependent on the availability of subject matter experts and significant cost savings have been achieved. The labour costs alone in having 10 engineers and a tutor in a classroom for 41 hours were significant and the project is set to pay for itself extremely quickly.

Our client is now issued with an efficient, modern training approached customised to the unique processes employed within their plant. The training modules can be used each year with new hires and can be updated easily if needed.

The success of the project has also led to discussions between Zenith Technologies and the client to investigate the potential for deploying similar learning packages on other technologies and systems.

At a glance:

Brief Challenges Solution Results
  • Company: World leading pharmaceutical company
  • Location: Little Island, Cork, Ireland
  • Mission: Deliver online learning packages for control systems
  • Product/Services: ZT customised training programme
  • Training of new personnel usually takes 41 hours and takes engineers off duty to train
  • Processes used within the plant are customised and unique
  • Creation of customised online learning packages
  • Removing any duplicate material and none core content
  • New hires equipped with a solid grounding in the operation of control systems
  • Learning time reduced from 41 hours to 4 hours
  • Eliminates the need to schedule training programmes
  • Training no longer dependent on the availability of subject matter experts
  • Significant cost savings

Reducing the learning material meant more personnel could be trained in a shorter space of time and to a higher level without a negative impact on production. We now maintain a highly skilled workforce, and have the means of getting new recruits up to speed in record time.”

– Production Manager

To find out more about Zenith’s Learning and Capability Services click here.