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Improvement of manufacturing operations at a pharmaceutical company: A lean manufacturing approach

Boppana V. Chowdary (Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, The University of The West Indies, St Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago)
Damian George (Genethics Pharmaceuticals Limited, Trincity Industrial Estate, Arima, Trinidad and Tobago)

Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management

ISSN: 1741-038X

Article publication date: 1 January 2012




The current good manufacturing practices (cGMP) are followed in the pharmaceutical sector to ensure that products are consistently produced and controlled to the appropriate quality standards as required by the marketing agencies. The purpose of this paper is to share improvement experiences due to implementation of lean principles combined with cGMP in a pharmaceutical company.


To conduct the study, an intensive review of literature has been conducted. For analysis of the problems existing in the selected production line, the 5‐whys methodology was followed. The current state value stream map (VSM) has been developed after making several company visits and necessary computations. For improvement of the system, various lean strategies have been proposed and the future state VSM developed.


The methodology assisted this company in reducing lead times, cycle times and WIP inventory in the manufacturing process. Furthermore, the storage area was reduced by 38 per cent and production staff was reduced by 50 per cent.

Practical implications

The prime purpose of a lean strategy is to eliminate wastes and to search for continuous improvement in processes. The proposed lean strategies indicated scope for improvement in production efficiency and effectiveness of manufacturing operations.


The guiding principle of cGMP is that quality is built into a product, and not just tested into a finished product. This paper makes several contributions to the pharmaceutical manufacturing company. The proposed lean strategies are considered to be highly valuable for implementation in similar manufacturing industries.



Chowdary, B.V. and George, D. (2012), "Improvement of manufacturing operations at a pharmaceutical company: A lean manufacturing approach", Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, Vol. 23 No. 1, pp. 56-75.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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