Simulation smartens scheduling for Lonza

Balancing atop the profitability/flexibility high wire familiar to most contract manufacturers, Lonza has ditched spreadsheet scheduling in favor of a simulation-based system. Goals were to increase throughput in the company's near-capacity 275,000-square-foot Portsmouth, NH, facility, home to some 200 assets that can be scheduled. Batches and runs comprise as many as 500 activities; six runs can be on-board simultaneously.

The company spent 18 months working with process-optimization solutions provider Aspen Technology and is now using a scheduling system that simulates the timing links between production activities and warns the scheduler of potential issues. The scheduling simulation uses a target, the ideal or preferred timing for one activity relative to another, as its staring point.

Lonza reports in PharmaManufacturing that it has cut batch cycle time to less than five days from seven while boosting production output by 20 percent. And it did so without additional scheduling headcount.

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