Finding a Cure for Pharmaceutical Storage at Research Lab

Faced with rapid growth and increased inventory, a company’s research lab found a more efficient pharmaceutical storage system with mobile shelving.

Did You Know?

6 out of 10 bio manufacturers admit they are facing some type of storage capacity problems at some stage of their manufacturing process

When you’re creating life-saving drugs for diseases like cancer, diabetes, and multiple sclerosis, no supplies can go to waste. The biologic pharmaceutical market is rapidly expanding, and is expected to reach $386 billion dollars by 2019. In 2014 alone, over 40 new biologic drugs were approved by the FDA. While a huge benefit to patients, the rapid growth of the industry has left manufacturers stressed for storage capacity.

One leading pharmaceutical company, in the midst of expansion, was dealing with the consequences of their inadequate pharmaceutical storage. The compounds and raw chemicals needed for the creation of biologic drugs have to be stored in a temperature-controlled environment to prevent them from deteriorating or becoming inactive. In the past, the company had used vertical carousels, a common storage solution in the industry, to hold chemicals and finished samples.

“Our department is very satisfied with how the system works and how much it stores. It meets all of our expectations.”

– Facility Manager at leading pharmaceutical manufacturing company

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Growing Pains Spark Change

As the company grew, however, the allocated pharmaceutical storage area filled to capacity, and eventually supplies were stored in various locations around the lab and even in other facilities. Lab technicians had to search different areas of the lab to locate the materials needed for a given project. To make matters worse, upon moving into a new, expanded lab space, they discovered the ceiling height could not accommodate the vertical shelving they’d used previously. With very specific storage requirements for temperature, humidity, and chemical resistance, the company wasn’t sure where to turn. Adding additional cooler storage would be capital-intensive and add ongoing maintenance and operating costs. But to stay competitive, they needed to be poised for even more growth.

Enter the local Spacesaver sales consultant. Having worked on many similar projects, he was an expert in temperature-controlled storage. Due to the complicated nature of the project, he had an in-depth discussion with end-users about their needs and specifications. Together, they came up with a solution that solved all of the issues: ActivRAC mobile storage in stainless steel. From his experience, he knew that higher-density storage like ActivRAC would help stabilize the room temperature, making the cooler more energy efficient and saving on electricity costs. The ActivRAC shelves could also be moved and compressed, which increased the capacity of the limited space. The system was outfitted to the manufacturer’s specifications with chemically resistant TSS Hybrid Waterfall wire shelves with a special Teflon powder coat, and clear doors.

Of course, a few modifications were in order to make the system as efficient and safe as possible. “They needed the storage to be a bit more air tight—less of a shelf and more of a cabinet,” said the Spacesaver consultant. He and the local distributor helped custom-engineer secure doors and HVAC capabilities needed for the time- and temperature-sensitive products.

The percentage of the top 100 prescription products that will be biopharmaceuticals by 2018

Streamlining the Manufacturing Process

With the new system in place, chemical and sample storage was centralized, creating a more efficient workflow. The clear doors made visual inspections and sample tracking easier and faster, while the clear trays helped organize the bottles and vials to simplify the retrieval process. With air-tight doors and HVAC integration, concerns about chemicals deteriorating due to climate are nonexistent. Having been concerned about the costs of a new cooler, the manufacturer was pleasantly surprised at the energy costs saved by implementing high-density shelving. The Facility Manager at the manufacturing company was glad to have found a pharmaceutical storage solution, saying, “Our department is very satisfied with how the system works and how much it stores. It meets all of our expectations.”

Similar companies have also taken note of the engineered-to-order solution. Shortly after the first project, the Spacesaver consultant installed a similar solution for another company with a more conventional pharmaceutical focus. Both companies are consistently placed in the top ten global pharmaceutical corporations.

“Custom projects like these are just one example of why it’s so important to meet with the end-users of the product and brainstorm the solution from that point,” he said. “Once we understand what the requirements are, we can really tailor a system to fit a variety of needs.”

“I would tell anyone to get ActivRAC to stay competitive.”

– Operations Manager

Constructing or renting new temperature-controlled storage spaces isn’t your only option. A cost-effective alternative is rethinking your cooler/freezer storage and maximizing that pricey square footage in a whole new way.

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