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Pharmaceutical Manufacturing and Packing Sourcer

The IT Crowd

Wassermann AGís Frank Altrichter and Joachim Schulte evaluate the advantages of more openly integrating IT with shop floor execution

Manufacturing execution systems (MES) are hot products nowadays. Many companies are painfully aware that they are not in the position to efficiently put into practice the planning requirements generated by enterprise resource planning systems (ERP). Neither can they react in good time to current incidents in production and packaging at the business management level.

Those companies who want to find sustainable solutions to these problems need more than just another piece of software. Indeed, companies need to understand how important it is to see and visualise the dataflow and the supply chain process as a whole. Key performance indicators (KPIs) can be used as important drivers for this vertical and horizontal integration.

Transparency is essential to efficiently manage a company over all areas and work processes across different levels. But a single all-encompassing, one-size-fits-all IT system for controlling the whole picture, from management to the employees on the shop floor, from goods reception to sampling, weighing/dispensing, bulk manufacturing and formulation, quality control and assurance, packaging to distribution, cannot be realised on a practical level.

Instead, standardised interfaces and new IT concepts, such as service-oriented architecture (SOA), offer a company the opportunity to take a best-of-breed approach and then compile robust and complete solutions suitable for any area. Those functional areas related to shop floor operations, frequently neglected over the years when it came to IT investments, will benefit the most from such an approach.

An IT infrastructure should aid the company as much as possible in effectively implementing management decisions and guidelines into production and related upstream and downstream processes in the supply chain, as well as reporting the manufacture of order-related production data back to the finance department. Thinking only at a software level does not solve the essential problem: the linking of data and processes at both the business and technical level. Software experts call this vertical integration.


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Frank Altrichter holds a Masterís degree in Mechanical Engineering with majors in Aeronautical Engineering and Logistics, and is certified by APICS as CPIM. Since 1997, he has consulted international enterprises in the areas of supply chain management, business process optimisation and the implementation of advanced planning systems with focus on the pharmaceutical and process industry.

Joachim Schulte holds a Masterís degree in Computer Science and Business Administration. Currently he is Product Manager at Wassermann AG, a leading supplier of supply chain software for planning, scheduling and optimising business processes. Prior to this, Joachim held various solution consulting positions at i2 and SAP. His consulting focus lies in supply chain management and advanced planning and scheduling.

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Frank Altrichter
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Joachim Schulte
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