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Jacklin Altman14 Sep, 2017

“Take what you find here and make it better.” - Eli Lilly optimizing pharmaceutical production with the PI System

Surrounded by peddlers of ineffective patent medicines (i.e. Snake Oil), in 1876 Eli Lilly left his retail pharmacy behind to start a pharmaceutical production business focused on innovation and quality. From day one, Lilly's products included a label listing the ingredients.

Lilly soon conceived new products and methods of production that would revolutionize the manufacturing of modern prescription medicines. Starting in 1909, Lilly production lines used blueprint paper for manufacturing tickets (Remember carbon-copies? Like that only even older!), which provided multiple copies of a drug formula, eliminating transcription errors during the factory's straight-line production process. By 1917, Lilly's gelatin capsule manufacturing plant was so efficient, the plant's output of 2.5 million capsules per day was selling excess inventory to the competition.

Whether leading the market as the first mass-producers of Insulin, Penicillin-G, or the Salk Polio vaccine, innovation, quality, and efficiency have always driven Eli Lilly and Company to search for solutions and methods to improve every part of operations. As a PI System user since 1995 with implementations at 22 different facilities, Lilly especially understands the value of integrated data solutions for driving efficiency in a specialized manufacturing process.  


But, how do you generate reliable data insights when your manufacturing facility is off-site, owned by a third-party contract manufacturer? 

They opted to use the PI System to gain remote visibility into offsite manufacturing. As Brian Goldinger, Manufacturing IT Consultant at Eli Lilly, noted during the 2017 OSIsoft Users Conference in San Francisco, the real-time visibility enabled by the PI System will potentially allow Lilly to not only reduce manual data collection, the new process can elevate OEM/CM performance and allow the brand to scale production while maintaining its high standards of quality.

Lilly's insulin pens are each made of four-to-five separate components. These components are custom-designed by Lilly engineers and produced on machinery that is built for, and owned by, Lilly. But, that machinery is custom-built at an offsite OEM and operated offsite by Contract Manufacturers (CMs). While this arrangement offers Lilly great flexibility to scale production while reducing cost liability, OEMs simply manufacture and send equipment to CMs, and CMs operate with very lean business models and typically have no data historians offering. All in all, that means Lilly engineers have very little process visibility and control. With the goal of optimizing insulin pen production while maintaining or improving quality standards, Lilly chose to expand the PI System into to their OEM and CM operations.

Using centralized PI System interfaces and PI Cloud Connect, Lilly engineers can now analyze data from one remote location without the need for travel to a production site, use an operational VPN, or experience a week-long data lag. This allows benchmarking and monitoring the performance of custom-made machinery at the OEM in real-time, while at the same time optimizing production of the pens themselves by the CMs. Downtime can be monitored and explored through the Asset Framework, reducing waste and preventing future issues.

While still operating as a proof of concept, the insights afforded by the PI System will allow Lilly to increase both insulin pen production and quality assurance at the same time, ensuring a better product at a better price to those in need.

"We're trying to change the frontiers of what's possible in medicine. Our vision is to change patients' expectations - to provide a new sense of hope for people suffering from some of the world's most debilitating diseases." - Dave Ricks, Chairman and CEO.

Learn how Lilly partnered with OSIsoft to revolutionize the prescription drug manufacturing model.

Jacklin AltmanDigital Media ManagerJacklin is the Digital Media Manager and local food critic at OSIsoft. With over 7 years of experience in marketing, software, and social media, she writes about all things tech, marketing, and the PI System.
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