Samsung BioLogics nears finish line with massive biologics manufacturing project

Samsung BioLogics said it is on track to complete its third manufacturing plant in Songdo, Incheon, this year, which when complete will make the South Korean company the largest “pure play” biologics contract manufacturer in the world.

The mechanical installations at the $750 million facility, which include a dozen, 15,000-liter bioreactors, should be wrapped up in the fourth quarter of the year, the company said in an update to FiercePharmaManufacturing. At 118,618 square meters, the plant will be about twice the area of a standard World Cup stadium. 

The 180,000-liter capacity facility will be able to manufacture 4,500 kilos of biologics products annually once it becomes fully operational, the company said. Commercial production is expected to begin in 2020. Samsung BioLogics has about 1,700 employees, which will increase by another 340 to 500 employees with the addition of the new plant.

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Announced in 2015, the new facility is being erected next to two others that Samsung BioLogics has already completed and will give the company a total capacity of 362,000 liters. Samsung said it will have invested 3 trillion won, about $2.6 billion, in the massive buildup.

“This is the plant we used all the know-hows we accumulated through building three plants in such short time. The overall construction is a little over 70% complete,” said Segang Park, engineer project management team leader, who has been involved in the construction of all three facilities. “Not only it has the largest capacity, it has the newest, technologically advanced facilities in the world.”

All three will have been constructed in the last seven years. That was made possible, according to Samsung, by the deep experience and expertise the parent company has from having built 23 semiconductor plants and more than 50 petrochemical plants. The company has used design and build processes that allow it to do “design, procurement, construction, and validation activities in parallel." 3D modeling expedited the complicated design and installation of the plants’ pipes and vessels.

“As a result, capital expenditure per production is approximately 40% lower than our first plant, which was built to industry standards,” the company said in its announcement.

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Samsung also has 200 in-house engineers working on the projects, including 50 who have worked on other semiconductor and chemical plants with Samsung and have been involved in the work on all three of the biologics facilities.

All of this is targeted at being a key player in the global biologics market, which according to a Frost & Sullivan report cited by Samsung is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 9.1% to $489 billion in 2025 from $205 billion in 2015. But Samsung is not the only company vying for that business. Earlier this year, for example, Sanofi and Swiss contractor Lonza said they will share the cost of building a €270 million ($286.3 million) biologics plant as Sanofi again turns to a partner to help carry the financial burden of expanding capacity for new biologic meds. Under that deal, Lonza will be able to use its half of the capacity for products for other companies, if it is not needed to do work for Sanofi. Also, if any of Sanofi’s capacity is not being utilized at some point, Lonza will be allowed to use it for its own work.

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In 2013, Germany’s Boehringer Ingelheim said its Zhangjiang Biotech & Pharmaceutical Base Development Company (ZJ Base) would build a small facility in Pudong, Shanghai, to do contract manufacturing targeted at the growing number of Chinese companies developing their own biologic drugs.