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Pharmaceutical Manufacturing and Packing Sourcer

Keep Talking

From the moment his younger sister arrived, my son has embraced the concept of outsourcing. Initially, this started with Scarlett being held responsible for all accidental household breakages. I would hear a crash and turn around to see Noah presenting an innocent smile and pointing a finger towards his sibling. He would shower her with affection, grateful to have freed up the extra time required to develop a more wild excuse for the damage.

Now that Scarlett is older, I also see her making the most of this time- and resource-saving strategy, often utilising the help of her brother to avoid activities she would rather not do. Noah, as the helpful older brother, often needs little encouragement to get involved. It is a strategy I have grown very used to seeing and one that, if implemented correctly, has great benefi ts for all parties. In the case of my daughter, even playing the guilty party means you are seen as a hero to your older brother.

The pharmaceutical world thrives on outsourcing; it is a practice that has been growing for as long as I can remember and, as a supplier, I have experienced both the highs and lows of this industry trend.

Much of what goes on beyond packaging manufacturing can be considered an outsourced activity. This starts with the qualification of the thermal packaging solution in the laboratory, which would originally have occurred at a client’s facility, and follows through to a supplier that holds greater levels of stock and preconditioning components – enabling customers to reduce inventory, costs and complexity. Many different fi rms have developed and built themselves around this type of model.

However, there is another side to this which, if not managed effectively, can cause difficulties. This stems from communication between partners. I have often found that when tasked with creating a solution for a client that is running an outsourced activity, they will lack certain information and, in some instances, are unable to even share the name of their customer. Getting the required answers can be time-consuming, but knowing the name of the primary company can help providers assess how projects have been executed in the past, as well as identifying previous solutions that could work for the new scenario.

Furthermore, the outsource provider may have been given a strict set of requirements, including the use of a very specific solution. This can create problems if the outsourcer goes on to deliver products in a different way and through a different network, due to a lack of proper communication. Surprisingly, this is not always an early consideration.

I am sure that outsourcing will continue to increase. The pharma packaging industry now has an internal structure to support this trend, and companies exist to offer just about every service required. As a supplier, it is important to build in steps to maintain communication, in addition to setting up pre-emptive information and sharing agreements with primary companies to enable future support. As always, clarity and communication are key to success; and when you have more people involved in a process, it becomes all the more critical to understand each individual role and how best to work together.


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Richard Harrop is a qualified structural packaging design engineer, coming previously from the FMCG sector. He has been involved in the temperature-controlled packaging industry for over 10 years. During this time, he has developed and implemented several successful temperature-controlled solutions for many of the world’s leading pharmaceutical and biotechnology corporations.
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Richard Harrop
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