Improving Supply Chain Through Human Performance

October 18, 2018 12:01 pm || || Categorized in:

dreamstime_xs_52028144In many ways, today’s pharma and biotech facilities share the same problem that many of the factories that supported the war effort during World War II had – a shortage of skilled and qualified operators and technicians. This lack of a skilled workforce in the early 1940’s was a crisis that the U.S. Government War Production Board responded to quickly with one of the first emergency services to be established: Training Within Industry or TWI. As many skill laborers went off to war, the service was designed to boost industrial production of war material born out of the need to rapidly train new, unskilled workers entering the war production workforce. The impact of TWI was instrumental to the United States’ victory in World War II, but it also had a far-reaching impact on the post-war rebuilding of Japan. Although this program was built on long accepted principles, it was very effective because managers and supervisors were “drilled” in “how to do it.”  It began with the recognition that the organizational environment and the organization’s management systems had to establish the framework by which humans are expected to succeed. TWI worked to solve a problem that the nation faced in the 1940’s by focusing on training unskilled workers and minimizing human error, and this remains the objective for the pharma and biotech workforce today.

dreamstime_xxl_19756591But in spite of the need to eliminate human error proactively, the industry tends to focus on human error as a reaction. For managers responsible for value streams,­ from laboratory operations to full commercial production, ­ they have historically focused on identifying constraints in the stream and proposing solutions designed to maximize profits and performance.  However, when carefully considered, many of these constraints are caused by people, and ironically, the proposed solutions assume that these same people are able to implement the solutions because they are rational or can be persuaded to behave rationally. The evidence suggests otherwise.

It goes without saying that focusing on human competency to achieve operational excellence is the essential first step to continuous improvement. It is just as important to meet the challenges of the future that come with new technologies that are gaining momentum, such as continuous manufacturing, single use technologies (where the human element is highly leveraged), new analytical methods, and so on.  TWI is a blueprint to deal with such challenges.


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About the Author:


Rich Tree, Vice President of North America

Rich is a hands-on senior consultant with 33 years of experience in operations excellence, business continuity management, reliability, and commissioning.  His leadership has consistently strengthened profit by improving efficiency and eliminating waste.  He has successfully spearheaded numerous turnarounds of operations always following the formula of execution, waste elimination, asset management, and quality improvement, driving substantial and sustained growth in top- and bottom-line performance. Richard has positively impacted organizations by influencing perspectives and developing/empowering people.

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