Engels:With the complexity we have in the supply chain for pharmaceutical products, it is absolutely necessary that the different elements of the supply chain interact much closer together than they have done in the past. Previously, a large pharmaceutical company controlled everything from the top down. By having enough excess capacity in all elements of the supply chain, they were able to fulfill the paradigm of always having product available in the marketplace.
Now this is going away. Now you have high-performing elements in your network that might be your own facility or might be somebody else's facility. You need to make sure that the information exchange between these elements in the network is flawless so that if there is any problem in one element of the network, everybody else becomes aware of it and can take appropriate action. The paradigm is still that product has to be available at all times in the marketplace. If you don't have product, that's the most costly failure you can have.
A lot of people talk about just-in-time manufacturing, but do you think many pharmaceutical companies are actually trying to do it?
If you want to apply it in the pharmaceutical industry, a lot of minds have to change. I think the pharmaceutical industry is far away from on-demand manufacturing for multiple reasons. One of the reasons is the culture of the industry, other reasons are compliance constraints. But I think this should not prevent us from getting as close as possible to that paradigm.
Has DSM tried new ways of exchanging information with its clients?
Yes. For instance, the whole supply chain must know about the progress of deviations in the quality system. We created a dashboard that tracks deviation handling throughout manufacturing, quality assurance, and the laboratories. Because we have not found a way to directly and securely tie clients into our systems, we created data rooms that are automatically updated so the customer can see data we have agreed upon up front that they want to see.