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Support functions at Biovian – warehousing, purchasing, and sterile supply management.

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about a warehouse? Maybe an image of a truck stacking pallets and boxes in a giant hall? However, the warehouse at Biovian may be more compared to a modern city library. Inventory management at a biopharmaceutical contract manufacturer has some similarities with any warehouse, but Good Manufacturing Practice, in short GMP, brings its difference to the work. Here, we review some of the support functions at Biovian, including warehousing, purchasing and sterile supply management.   

GMP warehousing

GMP is a system that ensures that products are consistently produced and controlled according to quality standards. The rules are in place because patients have the right to expect quality pharmaceutical products. The GMP regulations cover warehousing of contract development and manufacturing organizations, CDMOs, such as Biovian, because correct handling, storage, and documentation ensure high product quality. In other words, there is an additional layer of scrutiny in warehouse management work because of GMP.  To give an example, the release of material for GMP production necessitates that a person responsible for Quality Assurance has verified that already the raw materials meet all specifications.

One of the GMP warehouses for room temperature items

Purchasing and sterile supply management

A systematic way of working is essential at the supporting functions at Biovian, particularly in purchasing and sterile supply management. As a CDMO the task of Biovian is to source GMP-grade materials for client projects. This involves selecting, auditing, and qualification of material suppliers. When it comes to supply management, the supply technicians make sure that the GMP production and laboratories receive sterile materials in a timely and coordinated manner. The daily tasks include pre-treatment of laboratory material, such as rinsing, packaging and sterilization, followed by transfer of the material.

An autoclave uses steam and pressure to sterilize the items needed in the development laboratories and GMP production

What is it like to work in support functions?

Johanna Jonsson and Sanna-Karoliina Lauren from Biovian support functions

So, what kind of person is a good fit for the job in CDMO warehouse, purchasing or supply management? Certainly, one that has attention to detail, says Johanna Jonsson, the purchaser of Biovian. Her colleague Sanna-Karoliina Lauren continues that a background in biotechnology, material technology or logistics provides a good basis for working in support functions. Experience in IT systems, such as SAP is of great help, she adds, as Biovian is implementing SAP by design also in warehouse inventory tracking. Johanna, who has been with Biovian since 2007, highlights that the most important personal qualities are adaptability to situations and excellent communication and teamwork skills.  Both Johanna and Sanna-Karoliina agree that a variety of daily tasks is the part they enjoy the most in their work at warehousing and purchasing. “Contacts with partners and colleagues mean that every day will be different”, Johanna concludes.