Consultant Turner & Townsend has urged pharmaceutical companies involved in making covid-19 vaccines to share data on their construction projects, after it found in a survey that 70% of such projects exceeded their budgets and ran over time.
Turner & Townsend has analysed a selection of £70m-plus pharmaceutical construction projects completed across the USA, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, and found that some 70% of them exceed their budget by an average of 15%, and their schedule by an average of four months.
The consultant said benchmarking data on the construction of new plants would identify common risks and help drugs companies get plants producing faster in the age of pandemics.
The overruns are typically driven by overspending and delays during the commissioning, qualification and validation phase (CQV) at the end of a project, plus a failure to accurately anticipate the time and resources needed to complete utility and mechanical, engineering and plumbing (MEP) work.
With big pharma under pressure to get plants producing sooner to make medicines and vaccines, Turner & Townsend said better early planning and collaboration are needed.
It said that rather than rushing through the early planning stages and paying the price down the line, projects must bring interdisciplinary teams together and align on cost and schedule from day one.
The business is also calling for the industry to come together and share benchmarking data across construction projects to improve the way projects are estimated and planned allow risks to be identified and avoided.
Jason D’Orlando, vice president of Turner & Townsend Taurus, said: “In the wake of the covid-19 pandemic, the pharmaceutical industry is under the spotlight and global pressure like never before. With the overriding need to improve the speed to market of life-saving medicines, now is the time to see real industry change in the development of new manufacturing space to live up to the dynamism of the pharmaceutical industry.
“By planning more thoroughly at the earliest stages of capital projects, and applying robust industry benchmarks, pharmaceutical companies can better avoid damaging cost and schedule overruns at a time when these simply cannot be afforded. The industry needs to come together to improve visibility and predictability on cost and risks if we are to deliver more manufacturing capability for the global pharmaceutical sector at pace.”