Founded in 1981 in Boston, Mass., Genzyme has evolved from a tiny startup to one of the world's leading biotech companies, with nearly 10,000 employees and operations in every region of the globe. Our products address rare genetic diseases, multiple sclerosis, cardiovascular disease and endocrinology; we maintain a substantial development program focused on these fields as well as other areas of unmet medical need. Acquired by Sanofi in 2011, Genzyme now benefits from the reach and resources of one of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies, with a shared commitment to improving the lives of patients.
As a company, we were facing many issues common to manufacturers in the pharmaceutical and biotech industry, including:
• compliance challenges, and quality, health and safety, and environmental expectations;
• production downtime impacting product supply due to capacity constraints;
• expected product sales growth;
• market pressures to reduce manufacturing costs; and
• stockholder expectations to operate and maintain the manufacturing assets cost effectively.
Genzyme global engineering decided that setting up a global maintenance and reliability network was an important way to address these issues. So, the vice president of global engineering convened a conference and workshop in the fall of 2009 for site maintenance and reliability professionals worldwide. It brought together people from plants in the U.S., Ireland, the U.K. and Belgium. The event featured a keynote address by our then-CEO demonstrating visible leadership support for the goals of the conference. Our global network recognized that the reliability and maintenance functions at the sites would play an important role in achieving the organizational objectives — and that using a common approach was essential.
We realized many opportunities existed for continuous improvement in maintenance and reliability. But we didn't know which areas to concentrate on first at each site, what areas of opportunity were common among sites, and which sites had good or best practices in place. So the big questions were: "What is the current status of our sites today?," "What are the major themes and opportunities for improvement among the sites?," and "What do we work on first?"
THE ASSESSMENT PROCESS
A global network focus team representing the manufacturing sites chose the common approach, specific assessment tool and schedule. We partnered with Life Cycle Engineering to make certain we were using a proven approach that would deliver the results we needed. We selected a common tool, based on the "Reliability Excellence" model, to ensure consistency of the process to share and compare the results. The site maintenance leadership cosponsored the assessment in conjunction with the global engineering function. However, due to its scope, the assessment also required support from the site leadership.
Planning and executing a site benchmarking assessment isn't a trivial task. Each assessment began with an educational workshop to align the participants and site on the principles, methodology and expectations of the process. The goal was to reach a diversified audience representing all aspects of operations, including manufacturing, quality, health and safety, environmental, engineering, maintenance and site leadership.
This workshop was an important step in building awareness that the principles of reliability and operational excellence aren't just "maintenance-owned responsibilities." By understanding the relationships between reliability, operational excellence and best practices, the participants were better able to relate their roles, responsibilities and the area processes to site objectives through good asset management practices. Positive feedback typically followed the educational workshop and helped set appropriate expectations for the benchmarking assessment process.
The assessment was conducted over a week that included onsite interviews, process shadowing and tours of operations and facilities. The primary obstacle to conducting the assessments was time. Everyone always is busy. That's the nature of industry today — you're expected to be obligated 100% of the time. In recognition of this situation, the challenge was to identify a time to execute the assessment. This typically required several months of advanced notice to have the necessary resources available.
An important element for success was the level of involvement of senior leaders. Some sites had more senior leadership support than others. Such support helped overcome the challenges to executing the assessment. More importantly, site leadership will play a critical role in supporting continuous improvement activities and initiatives that result from the benchmarking assessments.
We completed three benchmarking assessments in 2011 and two in the first half of 2012. After finishing the five benchmarking assessments, it was clear that sites had common opportunities for continuous improvement. These areas included: materials management, enterprise asset management (EAM), work planning, work measurement, equipment history, and reliability engineering.
With a roadmap based on our biggest opportunities, the global network developed the first phase of an implementation plan in late 2012 for execution this year. Formal network focus teams have been organized to address materials management, EAM, work planning, work measurement, reliability and equipment history. The purpose of these focus teams is to develop standard business processes and procedures for use at all the sites. Focus team activities also will include strategic training initiatives as needed to support the new processes and procedures. This will ensure consistency within our operations while maximizing the combined efforts of the global network.
We will continue to use the results of the diagnostic over the next two years as a roadmap for developing additional implementation phases. Because continuous improvement is an ongoing journey, expectations and targets must be managed appropriately. The objective of our network is to improve the global performance from an "emerging" to a "proactive" state (Figure 1).
A GOOD START
The decision to conduct benchmarking assessments at Genzyme's sites stemmed from a collective recognition that remediating current deficiencies and achieving future objectives required changes to be made. We realized the first step in deciding where to begin is to understand the current state of the key business processes.
We see real value in approaching site benchmarking assessments on a global basis. However, this isn't a trivial exercise. Success demands:
• understanding and being able to communicate the business case for undertaking the benchmarking assessment;
• ensuring buy-in from all sites involved;
• making certain you educate the sites about why you're doing the benchmarking before the assessment begins; and
• getting senior leaders on board to participate actively and help with providing resources.
ROBERT CHRISTMAN is the associate director of global reliability engineering for Genzyme, Framingham, Mass. SCOTT MORRIS is an associate director supporting global reliability engineering for Genzyme in Framingham. E-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.