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Pharmaceutical Manufacturing and Packing Sourcer

Mind the Environment

Preserving energy has become a hot topic – but how can pharma manufacturers reduce energy consumption while, at the same time, cater for increasing industry pressures? The answer is to take small steps, starting with awareness

Without pharmaceutical manufacturing, none of the life-saving and life-enhancing medicines on the pharmacist’s shelves would exist today. However, given its importance year-on-year growth, it is obviously an industry sector that consumes a large amount of energy.

But with global warming and climate change becoming a more prevalent topic in recent years, stiff competition is not the only thing pharma manufacturers have to contend with. They are also faced with increasing demands to become more socially and environmentally responsible, and energy efficiency has a huge part to play in achieving those goals.

Why is Energy Efficiency Important?

The UK is under significant pressure to become more energy efficient – with legal targets now in place for the country’s greenhouse gas emissions to be cut by 80% by the year 2050, based on levels recorded in 1990. Of course, for such an ambitious target to be achieved, large-scale changes will have to be implemented across all industries and sectors, particularly those that are large consumers of energy. According to the UK Chemical and Pharmaceutical Industry Facts and Figures report, published in January 2015, chemical manufacturers account for 14% of the industrial sector’s total energy usage, equating to 3.4 million tonnes of oil. However, the high consumption levels of the chemical and pharma industries do not imply that real and significant changes cannot be made in order to achieve greater energy efficiency. In fact, the Chemical Industries Association reported in 2015 that between the years 1990 and 2010, it had seen a 35% reduction in energy input per unit of output. The subject of energy efficiency is certainly one that is being treated with growing importance throughout the entire manufacturing industry. A recent report by Siemens into the manufacturing sector suggested that 89% of companies now discuss matters of energy management at board level, with 67% also reporting that their organisation had appointed a senior director in charge of energy management.

Why Should Pharma Be More Energy Efficient?

As already highlighted, the world of pharma manufacturing is becoming more and more competitive – and as companies fight

to stay ahead of one another in terms of profit, many of them will be looking for opportunities to cut costs at any stage of the production line. One factor that can have extreme and often unpredictable negative consequences on financial performance is energy prices. Aside from the main bonus of a decrease in costs, implementing more energyefficient methods and technologies can offer a whole host of additional benefits, such as increased production of goods, a rise in quality and improved working efficiency, all of which can contribute to further productivity gains. Four-Step Strategy In light of increased pressure on pharma manufacturers to increase productivity, cut energy costs and improve efficiency across the board, more and more are implementing their own energy management programmes that combine all three. No matter what the ultimate end goal is, working towards energy efficiency has widespread benefits. The following steps show how to establish and implement an effective energy management strategy.

1. Gather Data
Before changes can be made to reduce energy consumption, it is necessary to establish how much energy the organisation is using first. Once this information is available, educated decisions can be made on which processes need changing. With so many different kinds of energy output across the entire manufacturing process, it is essential that pharmaceutical plants monitor each utility type closely – from gas, electricity and compressed air to water and steam – in order to gain a thorough idea of the energy costs and carbon footprint associated with each. Through the careful implementation of measuring methods and by conducting meticulous audits, companies will be able to gain an incredibly detailed understanding of where the energy is going. From there, an effective plan for managing it can be put in place, rather than companies jumping in blindly trying to make changes without knowing the facts.

2. Fix Easy Things First

Once all the relevant data has been gathered, manufacturers can then put plans into action in order to cut energy wastage. One of the first places many companies begin is to examine areas where small changes can be made that will have a big difference on energy consumption. This can be as simple as changing all light bulbs from halogen to LED, or encouraging more understanding among staff about saving energy, such as switching lights off and closing windows and doors to ensure heat retention. Many energy management programmes will directly address the habits and actions of its employees in order to make them more aware of the difference they can make. This could include formal training, running awareness programmes and even offering incentives; each of these is an example of valuable ways to engage employees and encourage cooperation. However, this is not the only area where pharma manufacturers need to improve; drastic changes will need to be made if the industry is to see a reduction in its greenhouse gas emissions.

The next stage will often be to look at the bigger picture; that is, how the manufacturing processes themselves can be changed and improved in order to increase energy efficiency. More often than not, this may require some investment on the part of the company by actually replacing some of the devices or automation that is in place in order to make them more efficient. Sometimes even the most basic maintenance changes can carry huge benefits for a business; it can be as simple as replacing an old pump or a valve, but its effects on the overall efficiency of a process can be huge.

3. Regulation
Out of the four steps, this is perhaps the most challenging that the pharma manufacturing industry may face. Given the nature of the work involved, the correct environment has to be created and maintained, hygiene practices must be adhered to and the right processes always followed, as these are absolutely essential in ensuring that quality and full compliance are achieved. Despite the perceived difficulties, through the use of careful measuring and controls, any pharma manufacturer can keep the quality high and the energy wastage down. While it will not be necessary to carry out the same tests and audits as in step one – as this may cause costs to rise if such a thorough process is implemented on a regular basis – a simple series of tests will help to monitor energy consumption. Depending on the size of the organisation, examinations of the equipment could be conducted twice a year or once a quarter to test its efficiency, ensuring that any possible sources of energy wastage are identified.

4. Room for Improvement
There is little doubt that all of the mentioned efforts will certainly go a long way when it comes to improving energy efficiency and cutting costs, but many companies will fall short if they fail to stay on top of their practices. As mentioned in step three, continuously and actively monitoring the collected data regarding energy output is key, but it is also essential that the information is utilised to the company’s advantage. Every Little Helps Identifying and investigating any anomalies that may be found, no matter how small, must be conducted in a safe, efficient and timely manner to discover whether there is any room to make improvements. This does not necessarily have to be expensive equipment or parts replaced; it could be something as simple as getting employees more engaged and involved with the whole process. After all, every little really does help when it comes to cutting manufacturing costs.

Staying profitable during troubling economic times can be a challenge for any business in any industry. But with calls on all industrial sectors to become more environmentally friendly, staying in profit is not necessarily the only priority at the moment. Implementing an energy management programme will help pharma manufacturers to lay out a strategy and set a series of achievable goals to work towards – helping to cut costs, boost productivity and increase wider energy efficiency.

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