Lonza Biologics is part of Swiss life science giant Lonza and, as a contract biologics development organization, it needs to stay extremely competitive. This is achieved by providing a consistently high quality service to their customers while keeping overheads as low as possible and optimizing the efficiency of working practices. A ‘right first time’ approach underpins all its activities.
Continuous business improvement is a central tenet to Lonza Biologics maintaining its position as one of the world’s top contract biologics development organizations.
Moving away from paper-based processes offered an ideal opportunity to affect the key drivers of their business – increasing both quality and efficiency and reducing overheads. By proactively moving to an electronic system, Lonza Biologics considered it could also improve its competiveness by enhancing real-time process insight and providing a foundation for knowledge management.
Collaborating closely with its customers is an essential element of Lonza Biologics’ business. It has to understand and navigate demanding multi-step-processes from early clinical development to full scale manufacturing in order to effectively serve its customers.
“We knew an electronic system could save us time, reduce errors and increase collaborations. We were also eager to anticipate our customers’ demands for quality, speed and cooperative working. Finding a solution provider that would understand our business and help to enrich our customers’ experience in working with us was also a top priority,” said Marc Smith, Project Team Leader of Knowledge Management Systems at Lonza.
Lonza Biologics wanted to create a solid electronic framework for its scientific and process data. It adopted a domain-centric approach to vendor selection with in-depth assessment and measurement of each vendor’s capabilities to support the development of biologics and bioprocesses.
“IDBS answered our questions with confidence and authority. Its Bioprocess Execution System, based on E‑WorkBook Suite is well suited to the biologics development environment because its flexibility enables design ‘on the fly’. Other vendors have tried to accommodate variation within otherwise ‘fixed’ workflows but these seem overly rigid and don’t feel as clean or slick as IDBS’ approach.
Having worked with IDBS for nearly three years now, I firmly believe IDBS provides the best solution for the development of biologics and bioprocesses,” said Smith. The single most important step Smith considers the single most important step to be the effective understanding of requirements. IDBS’ experience and expertise in the biologics domain made them ideally placed to deliver this project.
Working with IDBS, Lonza Biologics has deployed a portfolio of electronic workflows to replicate processes which were defined internally by standard operating procedures (SOPs). The IDBS solution complements Lonza Biologics’ existing SOPs with workflows which offer the scientists a degree of in-built flexibility without compromising process control where it’s needed.
“Our scientists had to keep working on customer projects, so we needed to grab every possible opportunity to spend time with them. Their early input was crucial to the success of the implementation as we needed to establish those all-important requirements,” said Smith.
Lonza Biologics still dedicates considerable effort to continuous training and supports users with adoption workshops, in-laboratory coaching, telephone support in business hours, bi-weekly ‘walk-in clinics’, online ‘tips and tricks’ and a helpdesk to electronically record incidents. A team of scientists act as subject matters experts and are available to help others within their labs.
Lonza Biologics’ deployment of the Bioprocess Execution System has helped to integrate and optimize their bioprocess activities, managing the complete laboratory-to-report lifecycle within one single system. The deployment covers workflows across process development and analytical services and supports 300 users across four global sites.
“Capturing and manipulating 10,000 data points is now so much easier than manual processes using paper and spreadsheets. People at the bench really like using it. If they conduct a bioreactor run, all the previous work is referenced automatically and when they finish the experiment, they sign off and they’re free to move on to the next bit of science – which is what really interests them,” said Smith.
The most impactful time savings Lonza Biologics expects is within the reporting phase of projects. Reports which previously took weeks – and in a few cases, months – to complete can now be reduced to days. This is because the results, which tend to be spread across many experiments, can be aggregated and formatted automatically. The elapsed time for the report to be produced is therefore significantly reduced.
This is a key differentiator between IDBS’ solution and other data management systems such as basic ‘sticker book’ or ‘paper on glass’ electronic laboratory notebooks (ELNs). A further differentiator is that the capture of the ‘structured’ data can also be controlled and directed, giving the opportunity to embed and control the process of the experiment execution.
Selling the concept internally Smith believes ‘selling’ the concept of new IT solutions is about recognizing the different benefits everyone across the organization gets. Technicians still have to enter some of the data manually but it is far easier to find and there are significantly fewer mistakes. Those people involved in data analysis activities now have access to data in a structured format which makes their analyses more productive and insightful.
Finally, managers can quickly see how a project is performing as the relevant information is now easily accessible through a dashboard.
Lonza Biologics is the contract biologics development arm of Swiss life science giant, Lonza, a global leader in cell therapy and active pharmaceutical ingredients for both chemical and biological. Lonza Biologics offers custom development and manufacturing through to commercial scale production across biopharmaceuticals, cosmetics, nutrition, industrial biotech and animal health applications.
Lonza Biologics also conducts its own research and development (R&D) helping ensure its processes remain truly innovative. Lonza employs over 10,000 people and has 45 production and R&D facilities around the world.