Severe weather situations are increasing at a fast pace. From Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, to Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Hurricane Irma in Florida, storms created havoc over 2017, and those regions are still cleaning up and dealing with the after-affects. And while it has been nowhere as devastating, here in the Northeast we’ve had our share of severe snow storms that have caused power outages across the region.
For pharmaceutical manufacturing operations everywhere, the best defense against weather conditions is a good offense. Not only can power outages erase months or years of research and development of chemicals, but it also can impact the quality and safety of critical drugs.
This article looks at steps we take to prevent down time.
From the lab to the manufacturing plant, critical instruments need to be up and running continuously. Agitators, for example, which are on the majority of vessels, are used to mix liquids together, promote the reactions of chemical substances and increase heat transfer. When an agitator is interrupted, even for a short period of time, it can drastically alter the consistency of the chemical that is being produced.
Another key consideration is within stability chambers, which enable reliability testing by subjecting chemicals to real-world climate and wear extremes, such as temperature and humidity. Power must be continuously maintained to ensure that the specific testing factors are not compromised. Likewise, water chillers, which remove heat from one object and transfer it to another, are essential in the plant and the lab to properly maintain certain temperatures of critical processes.
These are just a few examples of the critical instruments needed to properly run a CMO lab or plant, but what they all have in common is the need for uninterrupted power.
We’ve all learned many important lessons from the devastation that Hurricane Maria brought across Puerto Rico, and to the pharmaceutical industry there. It basically brought the industry to a standstill. Major drug companies with manufacturing plants on the island found that power wasn’t the only issue to cause a shortage of critical drugs. Plant workers were not able to get to the plant as they dealt with their own personal crises brought on by the storm, as well as blocked roads and a shortage of gasoline. Additionally, vitals materials were not able to get into closed ports and other travel venues.
While we all hope the magnitude of such a storm doesn’t impact pharmaceutical manufacturing operations anywhere again, it serves an important lesson for the need for preparedness.
Below are key precautions CMOs should consider to be as proactive as possible before a storm hits.
Extreme weather conditions are a fact of life that seem to grow worse each year. While much of the impact can be beyond our control, prudent and proactive planning can go a long way to keeping the lights on, the agitators moving and critical pharmaceutical projects on track.
For more info on our pharmaceutical manufacturing capabilities, call at (978) 462-5555.