Laboratory Challenges and Lean Practices

In a pharma industry, approximately only 30-40% of the budgets are consumed by the Laboratory workflows, rest of the expenditure gets into other direct or hidden costs.

Common challenges faced in a laboratory include resource constraints, higher levels of work in process, sporadic work flow, deficiency of the required skill set, ultimately leading to requirement of better deploying the resources to achieve maximum yield.

To overcome these commonly listed challenges, the pharma industry has embarked on the lean management journey across their laboratories. End to end process mapping in a laboratory – identify and try to clearly map the process – distinguishing the value-added and non-value-added activities – finding the process gaps and fix them which leads to cost savings and better-quality output.

The objectives would be:

  • Reduce non-value-added activities
  • Improve value-added activities

The better practices involve:

  • a standard way of testing, efforts (time) invested
  • team organization, competency of resources
  • cross sector team organization, hiring of flexi resources
  • introduction and usage of capacity planning tools

Thanks to the lean tools - 5S (Sort, Set, Shine, Standardize, Sustain), Kaizen (Who, What, Where, When, Why), six sigma, PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) which are guiding the industry experts to make their process better and effective.

The benefits of this process mapping include:

  • better view of the laboratory processes
  • reveals complexity, redundancies
  • identifies the gaps and if required re-training is offered
  • continuous improvement by learning from the disconnects
  • validating against the industry best practices