Merck’s cutting-edge facilities take manufacturing to new heights
April 1, 2019
Inventing for life is more than just a motto at Merck. Our work has the potential to improve millions of lives, and that means prioritizing time in getting patients the products they need. Our company is investing an estimated $425 million-plus into high-tech facilities that will make manufacturing more agile and sustainable. Here’s a look at two of Merck’s investments in the future.
FLEx Center: Adaptable experimental facility in works
Merck’s Formulation, Laboratory and Experimental Center (FLEx), scheduled to open on Merck’s Rahway, New Jersey, campus in 2021, will speed up the process between product development and manufacturing for clinical trials. The estimated $300 million-plus facility will include “modular” and “podular” configurations, providing flexibility to accommodate evolving product needs and pipelines.
“At our company, we believe that flexibility will be a true enabler of pharmaceutical product development and manufacturing of the future,” says Allen Templeton, vice president, pharmaceutical sciences, Merck Research Laboratories. “We are creating a range of smaller, more agile facilities to address the increasing demands of treating diverse patient populations. A combination of ‘modular’ and ‘podular’ configurations within our new FLEx Center will enable this flexibility.”
vice president, pharmaceutical sciences, Merck Research Laboratories
“Podular” spaces can be moved within or outside FLEx. That means products can be developed and supplied from the Formulation Center, and when needed, the space – including the equipment – can be reinvented in order to start from scratch again and meet the requirements of the future pipeline. This process reduces cost, time and effort. These spaces serve as a testing center for clinical products, providing an apparatus through which inefficient equipment can easily be swapped out without a renovation, streamlining the process of small-scale manufacturing on site.
Meanwhile, “modular” rooms at the FLEx Center will make it possible to reconfigure existing space or create additional space when needed, allowing for expansion of growing pipelines.
FLEx is expected to employ approximately 130 people.
Merck builds high-tech manufacturing hub
In order to more efficiently manufacture a growing portfolio of medicines to get them faster to the people who need them, Merck is building a new high-tech community focused on immuno-oncology and other biologics at its Upper Gwynedd, Pennsylvania, site. This four-building hub will include 150 to 200 manufacturing and quality experts, innovators and problem-solvers.
The hub’s labs are fully reconfigurable to test manufacturing techniques and processes on a small scale with an aim to reduce costs and improve yields and efficiencies. If successful, these processes can be carefully replicated at larger manufacturing plants. The labs are designed to support the manufacturing of new and advanced biologic therapies.
Each of the four buildings in the high-tech manufacturing hub has a special purpose, including the Integrated Digital Execution and Analytics (IDEA) Center. The IDEA Center is an immersive technology room that will connect to all of Merck’s high-tech manufacturing hubs in near real-time and use digital capabilities to identify and share challenges, insights and solutions. Staff across sites will collaborate to create solutions, drive decisions and improve business outcomes.
In addition to the IDEA Center, the four buildings will house labs dedicated to quality control testing, troubleshooting, modeling and careful storage and management of key materials.