Pfizer and Preactor partner in developing a Global Supply Chain solution

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Pfizer Limited, the principal UK subsidiary of Pfizer Inc. has its European Research and Development Headquarters at Sandwich in Kent. A key challenge in the research and development of new products is ensuring effective and timely delivery of supplies to the Clinic throughout all phases of clinical trial. It was here, back in 1998, within one element of the Pharmaceutical R&D division, that the origins of what became a global supply chain solution can be found.

Jayne is a Business Integrator at Pfizer, Sandwich and has been involved with the Preactor project since its inception. She explains the situation at this time. Because the end product miraculously appeared at the last stage of the entire process the Pharmacy - no one really even saw the need to have more than minimal interaction between groups. The results were as might be expected with significant time being invested in fire fighting activities, no clear visibility of the big picture from a management perspective and sporadic visibility on a local level of how each area impacted any of the others.

At this time, a consultant not only confirmed the benefits Pfizer could liberate with FCS tools, he most crucially advised Pfizer to see these from an overall business perspective and to focus on implementing these at a supply chain level. The way that this task was carried out is now widely recognised as being a core element to the success of the project. First, Jayne involved all Senior Directors in a brainstorming exercise which resulted in the common realisation that the business model at the highest levels represented a siloed approach. Secondly, Jayne involved the IT department from the outset to research to ensure that all those with responsibility were working hand in hand in an informed manner on a common problem. Subsequent planning for Y2K confirmed at a strategic level the lack of visibility across the business as a whole which prompted the question, wouldnt it be great if we join it all up?

It was only as we appreciated the scope of what the tool could do that we began to see the possibilities for own business processes.

Pfizer is unlike most situations where a tool like Preactor is used where the prevailing culture is one of manufacturing or production. At Pfizer, the culture is predominantly creative and scientific, where the appreciation of manufacturing and production realities is not as deeply ingrained. Consequently, there is a great deal more education to be done, not just about what can be done with such a tool, but why it is beneficial to do so. This is even more acute when approaching a supply chain methodology where the critical factor is the interaction between each link of the chain. Preactor was selected because it provided the best flexibility and functionality fit for this model. It also provided an intuitive user interface which could be readily associated with actual business needs.

Phase 1 of the Preactor implementation began in 2000 with a roll-out to Solid Manufacturing, Analysis, and Drug Substance. Phase 2 followed in July 2001 and began with senior representatives from each area identifying the factors that impacted on their planning and scheduling capabilities. In many ways this was the official birth within Pfizer of a supply chain solution identity in that it led to the creation of the concept of the Pharm Sci Supply Chain with its slogan, Right Product, Right Place, Right Time. This logo has now been adopted globally throughout Pfizer. Over a 3 month period from September 2001, Preactor was rolled out to the remaining business areas and established links between 6 of 8 areas. In many ways, the sheer configurability of Preactor acted as a spur to our thought processes, comments Jayne. It was only as we appreciated the scope of what the tool could do that we began to see the possibilities for own business processes.

Phase 2 received a considerable boost in the appointment of 2 supply chain strategists from outside the Pfizer environment, with the implementation of new communication links forming the basis for the beginning of Phase 2b in early 2003. A primary goal was to link the individual scheduling areas not just to a master planner, but also to one another. This raised the fundamental trust issue it meant everyone, from Senior Directors to Operational Manager, would have to trust Preactor for every element within the chain. A growing trend towards globalisation within the Pharmaceutical industry as a whole, and also within Pfizer led to the united supply chain project at Sandwich entering its current stage, 9.2 GTI (Global Transition Initiative) in summer 2003.

Whilst the project is ongoing, the benefits are already substantial. Each of the individual areas using Preactor benefits from the usual advantages of FCS: - optimised workflow with minimum bottlenecks, increased flexibility, and the ability to run various what-if? scenarios. When these are pulled together in a united supply chain context, the total benefits are greater than the sum of the individual parts. On a Sandwich scale, Pfizer can now monitor all areas of a supply chain but even more importantly, it now has visibility regarding the status of each link. As Jane concludes, Everyone involved knows what they are doing, but more importantly, they know why. Its an excellent example of what can be achieved when technology and business processes, in this case Preactor and Pfizer, evolve together. And we couldnt have got this far without Preactor.

This is an excellent example of how the latest techniques and technology can enable multiple production units to synchronise activities in a cost effective and efficient way and in an environment where the users are not familiar with production management tools like Preactor," said Mike Novels, CEO, Preactor.

"Pfizer is a multi-national company but in fact each unit within this collaborative network is the size of an SME. Each unit has its own idiosyncrasies, its own unique constraints and practises. However each is trying to reach the same objective and the integration provided through messaging and alerts helps each unit to be aware of the changing situation of other units they are dependent upon.

It easy to see where this technology is leading. A Demand Driven Collaborative Supply Chain. Collaboration between plants in the same company can be equally useful for collaboration across different companies whether they are in the classic supplier/customer relationship or multiple smaller companies collaborating on projects within which each has a unique part to play.

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