Manpower and the Machine

March 2, 2006
Pharmaceutical Technology, Pharmaceutical Technology-03-02-2006, Volume 30, Issue 3

The outcomes of complex chains of reactions are hard to predict. Hindsight being 20–20, I can tell you that implementing the prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s-which was intended to reduce corruption and social problems, but actually lead to a rise in organized crime-was a bad idea.

The outcomes of complex chains of reactions are hard to predict. Hindsight being 20–20, I can tell you that implementing the prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s—which was intended to reduce corruption and social problems, but actually lead to a rise in organized crime—was a bad idea.

Kaylynn Chiarello-Ebner

It's just as difficult to guess what kind of domino effect the recent round of job cuts will have on how the industry grows and develops in the near future. But one area that seems particularly vulnerable is the process analytical technology (PAT) movement. Instrument makers have been hard at work developing tools for the online analysis of everything from cleaning verification to blend uniformity. Many tools are just now creating a buzz among manufacturers and are making their debuts on production lines.

But in this world of ever-shrinking payrolls, I can't help but fear an impending, unintended connection between job cuts and the implementation of these tools. For every online instrument, there must be technicians to oversee the equipment, analyze the results, and make decisions about how to proceed with production. Even in the best of times, already overextended quality control departments would be hard-pressed to supply additional PAT specialists for this purpose (or to ask someone to wear yet another hat).

For companies experiencing personnel cutbacks, assigning more staff to each online tool must be nearly impossible. New online tools are getting more and more advanced, and more and more valuable for pharmaceutical production. But if staffs are too limited in numbers, will online instruments go unused?

Clearly, manpower and technology don't just coexist; they're interlocked. The survival of new tools depends upon staffs that have the training, ability, and shear numbers to use them in their processes.

Related Content:

From the Editor | Viewpoints