Embedding a Culture of Continuous Improvement & Lean Manufacturing Across Pfizer Global Manufacturing - Learn how the pharma giant is enabling site-wide process efficiency. - BioPharm


Embedding a Culture of Continuous Improvement & Lean Manufacturing Across Pfizer Global Manufacturing
Learn how the pharma giant is enabling site-wide process efficiency.

BioPharm International
Volume 22, Issue 8


Pfizer's Lipitor Value Stream Team, composed of manufacturing, logistic, and support colleagues working to move Lipitor from raw material at Pfizer's Little Island, Ireland facility to packs of tablets in distribution centers all over the world, first met in April 2007 to take on the challenge of reducing end-to-end lead-time by 75%. VSM gives a highly detailed big picture view of what is occurring at every stage of the process and a baseline for measuring the impact of subsequent process changes. The team's first goal was to reduce lead time by 30% by year's end; they achieved this milestone in December 2007.

By mapping the value stream of those processes by which Lipitor evolves from raw material to packaged tablet, the team was able to identify the specific points at which bottlenecks, redundancies, down time, and other non-value–added problems impeded process effectiveness and undermined process capability. Bottlenecks could be found anywhere in the value stream, and were associated with poor process capability or unreliable equipment.Pfizer's Lipitor team used this insight to design process improvement strategies and to evaluate their implementation.

The team worked in conjunction with colleagues across several Pfizer sites to achieve another milestone by the end of 2008: trimming end-to-end Lipitor lead-time by 60%. Now, progress must continue on projects and initiatives currently underway at various Pfizer locations, including Little Island and Loughbeg (both in Ireland); Freiburg, Germany; and Vega Baja, Puerto Rico.


PGM is using RFT and Lean principles and tools organization-wide, across our manufacturing sites and global supply chains, to trim lead-times, optimize inventory, and reduce costs. The impact extends beyond manufacturing processes to improve performance in areas including marketing, product launch, sourcing of raw material and packaging supplies, and managing product complexity.

PGM began its continuous improvement program in 2003. We have since developed internal training competencies, including an internal certification program, to enable in house training and coaching, and support colleague recognition. Colleagues at every level are actively engaged in continuous improvement, for a positive impact on colleague engagement and business performance overall.

To date, Pfizer has delivered Six Sigma training to more than 23,000 PGM colleagues, and has completed thousands of projects across the division. Combined, these continuous improvement activities have delivered impressive results; PGM has reduced costs (by 5–20%) and inventory/lead-time (by 20–40%), and steered clear of capital expenditures. Overcoming capacity restraints at one of our European sites, for example, meant spending an estimated $2–3 million on new equipment. By improving the efficiency of our operation we were able to create additional capacity and avoid spending the capital.

Earlier this year, when our continuous improvement program was rolled out across the Pfizer organization, an immediate challenge was overcoming confusion about Pfizer's definition of, and approach to, continuous improvement. Subsequently, we developed the five Pfizer principles of continuous improvement. These five pillars clarify Pfizer's continuous improvement approach and support Pfizer's goal of tying continuous improvement to leadership improvement.


The support of site-level leadership was the single most significant factor behind PGM's successful implementation and adaptation of RFT and Lean. By fostering innovative thinking and problem-solving autonomy, Pfizer's continuous improvement program fosters leadership at every organizational level; as its principles remind us, everything is a process on the journey toward improvement, including leadership.

Gerry Migliaccio is vice president, Quality, EHS & Agility, and John Scott is vice president, Operational Excellence, both at Pfizer Global Manufacturing, Peapack, NJ, 908.901.7233,

blog comments powered by Disqus



Bristol-Myers Squibb and Five Prime Therapeutics Collaborate on Development of Immunomodulator
November 26, 2014
Merck Enters into Licensing Agreement with NewLink for Investigational Ebola Vaccine
November 25, 2014
FDA Extends Review of Novartis' Investigational Compound for Multiple Myeloma
November 25, 2014
AstraZeneca Expands Biologics Manufacturing in Maryland
November 25, 2014
GSK Leads Big Pharma in Making Its Medicines Accessible
November 24, 2014
Author Guidelines
Source: BioPharm International,
Click here