A Biotech Company Using Lean


New England Peptide Implements Lean Manufacturing

Here is an article about what might seem like a very untraditional industry using Lean — biotech. It's a favorite excuse in almost any industry to say “we're different,” but those who want to make Lean work find a way, since the concepts have proven to be so widely applicable.

New England Peptide, LLC (NEP) is implementing lean manufacturing at its Gardner, Mass., facility, to increase capacity and decrease production leadtime associated with peptide and antibody production.

Some other highlights:

  • “NEP is incorporating lean practices such as “value stream mapping” and the lean “5S” framework (Sort Out, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, Sustain), designed to target improved organization, productivity, and safety. NEP already has reallocated 15 percent of its plant square footage toward new processes”
  • While NEP's turnaround time is already the industry's fastest, a recent customer survey indicated customers would benefit from even faster leadtimes. “Lean manufacturing will allow us to meet that demand, and do so without compromising NEP's service and quality.”

I'll quibble with the headline of the release/story, that “implemented” is the wrong tense — we're all just “implementing” Lean, we are never done with our continuous improvement.The article suggests they are pretty early in their journey. I will assume, considering their state focus on continuous improvement that dates to their 1998 founding, that they are not just using tools — I hope they are also focusing on the management system of Lean and the Toyota Production System.

Bruce Hamilton, from the wonderful “Toast Kaizen” video is involved, along with his Greater Boston Manufacturing Partnership.

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


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