Medication production „just in time“
Vetter may be a company that many people are not familiar with. However, they may be familiar with some of the products that they manufacture. The company is actually one of the world leaders in the area of prefilled injection systems and it supports pharmaceutical and biotech companies from the early development of new preparations, through to the global market supply. For this, Vetter needs various pieces of master data, a seamless documentation procedure and reliable logistics, which is why the “Hidden Champion” from Ravensburg places their trust in the Process2Design SAP workflow solution from EASY SOFTWARE.
How the pharmaceutical service provider Vetter digitalizes their SAP workfows with EASY Process2Design
The communication is very good, all I have to do is call up and our advisors deal with our concerns. We speak the same language, as EASY has internalized our processes to a large degree during the course of the project.”
Conny Funk, Lead Material Master Processes & Systems, Vetter Pharma
For over 35 years, Vetter has been known for their high-quality, sterile, prefilled injection systems. The pharmaceutical service provider is an independent international specialist in the manufacturing of ready-to-use injection systems, cartridges and vials. The company supports their customers from the product development, through the approval, right through to the successful product introduction and later global market supply. Vetter is synonymous with quality and innovation, and it’s known for its strategic partnerships with pharmaceutical and biotech customers.
The company is a service provider for pharmaceutical and biotech customers all around the world. The customer provides the active substance and Vetter then takes care of the filling, visual inspection and packaging. The medication filling is done at three sites in Germany: Two in Ravensburg and one in Langenargen. All three sites have been approved for the European market and by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which monitors the US market.
80% of the medication manufactured by Vetter for global pharmaceutical and biotech companies are biological agents. Vetter has already won many awards for its services, including the Facility Of The Year Award, the Frauenhofer Clean! Award, the CMO Leadership Award, the German Design Award, the Business Award of the City of Ravensburg and the World Star Award.
Diverse master data in the company
The master data that Vetter has to manage is just as diverse as its customers, their active ingredients and their packaging.
On the one hand, there are what we call “Input components” which are needed for procurement, planning, logistics and production. On the other, we have “Production master data”, which includes things like manufacturer specifications, with their production instructions, and master recipes, which tell Vetter which tasks need to be carried out on which machines with which capacity and by who. And part lists, which list the components for the relevant production steps: From syringe bodies, to the locking part, the label, the foil and the folding boxes.
In October 2016, Vetter started the project “Domain Material” with the aim of digitalizing the highly integrative and cross-departmental master data processes. The goal is to complete the project by 2024, digitalizing 20 individual processes that were formally paper-based and connecting them to the in-house SAP system in the process.
With the digitalization of the workflows that work with the master data, Vetter promises greater efficiency and process security. In addition, the company is subject to extremely strict guidelines, in particular those stemming from the “Good Manufacturing Practice” (GMP). During each project that Vetter works on, validation documents that must be comprehensively documented are accumulated.
The processing times in particular could be optimized further. “The master data system process is very comprehensive and is used at multiple sites. As a result, our previous processes were very paper-heavy”, explains Cornelia Funk, Manager of Domain Material Information Technology at Vetter. She is leading the digitalization project. “As such, the main aim of the project is to digitalize the master data processes.”
“Our processes are very complex and often involve several different departments. So that we can manage and monitor them optimally, we transfer them to our validated SAP environment”, says Funk.
EASY: A trusted partner
Vetter chose EASY SOFTWARE as its implementation partner. There were many factors that tipped the scales in favor of the company. For one, Vetter had already successfully worked with EASY in the past. Another reason was that there are not many other companies that offer suitable solutions: Vetter uses the SAP workflow and a Process2Design add-on from EASY. “It was important to us that people that were not familiar with SAP would be able to work with the digital workflows. The EASY interface is very user-friendly which means that the users need less training and that there are less barriers standing in the way of them using the system.”
Cornelia Funk and the EASY consultants are still continuing to work on the project, and they are responsible for the control, technical implementation, settings, tests and documentation associated with this. The departments involved have been participating in weekly workshops that have been going on since October 2016, depending on the agenda. They also provide input and are closely involved in the test runs. As well as the IT department, the Development Service, Production, Production Systems, Quality Assurance and Quality Control areas, and the Customer Service, Customer Project Management, Supply Chain Management, Controlling Systems & Business Intelligence and Domain Material departments are all involved in the project.
Out of the roughly 20 individual processes that are to be reproduced using SAP and EASY Process2Design, the particularly important processes can already start to be optimized from a strategic point of view and digitalized. These then enable the company’s many customer and development projects.
The digitalized master data for “individual components” needed for filling products – from source materials to packaging materials – should go live in 2019. Afterwards, the project team will start working on the digitalization of the “commercial batches” from 2022. These so-called “commercial batches” contain all master data for the semi-finished and finished goods (in-house production) that Vetter fills.
The solution even wins over critics
The project has received generally positive feedback. “When we started with this project in 2016, there were many employees that were very used to paper-based work. However, during our feedback sessions, it was precisely these employees that said that getting rid of paper has made their work so much easier and that they find it great that they can now access their processes from any of our sites”, says Funk. Even the support provided by EASY earned rave reviews. Cornelia Funk: “The communication is very good, all I have to do is call up and our advisors deal with our concerns. We speak the same language, as EASY has internalized our processes to a large degree during the course of the project.”
But one question remains: What’s the level of transparency like? The answer: Vetter Pharma can now constantly maintain an overview of the current status of the individual processes and see what step the process is in and which user is working on it. This means that they can swiftly identify a specific contact person during emergencies and they can then react correspondingly and quickly.
In summary, the SAP workflow with Process2Design from EASY ensures transparency in this area – a valuable further development for Vetter.
Transparency, but not just for the company. When you remember that there is a sick patient behind each product that Vetter manufactures for their customers, it becomes clear just how important it is that Vetter delivers “in time”. “A fast and punctual provision of master data documentation is therefore essential”, explains Funk. “We want our processes to be completely transparent and we believe that our joint project with EASY will help us to achieve this.”
After the project has been completed, it’s likely that Vetter uses further EASY solutions, e.g. with regard to forms. “The solution is very flexible so that it can be used for a variety of paper-based processes. In addition, it’s easy to understand, meaning that employees require little training to learn how to implement simple processes themselves.”