How Agile Construction Practices Can Help Bring New Drugs and Vaccines to Market

Since the onset of the global pandemic, the life sciences industry has been devoted to developing and rolling out reliable vaccines as soon as possible. Foundational research on similar illnesses have been ongoing for decades, with companies worldwide already having a degree of infrastructure in place to develop and produce a COVID-19 vaccine. But with the previous U.S. administration dedicating billions of dollars specifically to domestic vaccine research and production, small-to-midsize American manufacturers have rushed to compete with the existing capacities of international competitors. By implementing flexibility in agile construction, adopting predictive data analytics, and referencing benchmarking data, contractors can help with the swift rollout of COVID vaccines while keeping up with global demand for new treatments.

Benchmarking Data Can Help Isolate Challenges

COVID-19 is an unprecedented crisis of proportions not experienced by most in our lifetime. Not since the Spanish flu of 1918 has a worldwide pandemic stifled major economies and locked down entire populations. As a result, governments have been offering substantial incentives to companies in the life sciences sector to produce a reliable vaccine. And while that means competition is fierce, it also provides the opportunity for extensive benchmarking data. This historical benchmarking information can be used to identify weaknesses, anticipate needs, and pull ahead in a highly competitive market. Having a partner with construction industry expertise that is well-versed in data utilization, can accurately price projects, and is nimble-minded, allows for construction to begin quickly and for certifications to be achieved sooner, enabling clients to get up and running as soon as possible. 

One of the biggest challenges in a busy and widespread marketplace is fixing the correct price for a product such as a vaccine and implementing a smooth distribution process in both developed and developing countries, as these approaches will differ depending on the state of the local market and infrastructure. With strong benchmarking data, a proactive company can compare competitors’ strategies for pricing, distribution, and timelines and get their construction plans in order earlier on in the process so that they’re armed with an approach to beat the market. Important projects like the construction of new life sciences facilities can turn a small or mid-sized company into an aggressive player in the global industry. How quickly they develop and how efficiently they distribute drugs through the world market is vital to both their value and their success. 

Adaptable Construction for Uncertain Conditions 

Once a company has established a data-driven plan to develop, produce, and distribute a vaccine, one major challenge is scaling up operations to fit the need for new therapies and treatments. Every small-to-mid-sized pharma company is different, with its own unique requirements when it comes to building new facilities. A flexible construction approach is the best choice for tailoring each plan to an individual company’s needs. Agile construction practices enable companies to select the right strategy for their requirements, while allowing data to inform and optimize project timelines. By relying on a more adaptable construction strategy, each pharma company can quickly respond to suit the needs of a put-upon market, whether producing COVID vaccines or ensuring other necessary drugs remain widely available.

Agile construction practices provide a host of benefits to expand pharmaceutical facilities swiftly. Conditioned to be adaptable and inventive, companies can do more with less, bringing equipment in from numerous locations to maximize the time spent working and ensuring that productivity is maximized. Strong relationships must also be maintained with skilled labor across the construction industry, so they can be brought onto pharma projects quickly. The construction workforce has dropped dramatically since the economic crash of 2008, making labor shortages a serious and ongoing challenge within the industry.

An agile approach includes a willingness to adopt new ideas, such as cutting-edge digital solutions and mechanical execution systems (MES) for tracking production of raw materials. Larger, more sedentary developers who have trouble adapting to the times may risk sacrificing flexibility for raw output at a time when we need to adjust faster than the spread of a virus. 

Using Benchmarking Data 

An unfortunate trend discovered in data research today is that modular construction firms are consistently becoming spread thin. Many clients have turned to these companies with the mindset that a modular approach can suit all their needs. Unfortunately, this has caused delays in critical processes, as multiple companies rely on a single supply chain to support all of their clients. Not only are many leading companies unable to service new clients, but they’re also all fighting for the same resources. This further demonstrates that adhering to a strictly modular approach can be inflexible. By examining this data, a savvy leadership team will understand they require a construction project strategy that prioritizes both speed and flexibility over any one technique. An example of an alternative approach is to centralize an equipment pipeline and its related digital systems to create a self-reliant vertical approach that eliminates delays.

Resilience and flexibility allow more innovative construction companies to serve as the perfect liaisons between partners in the pipeline bringing medicines to market. These construction partners can convey to all required parties how quickly manufacturing can begin. Just as Oxford University relied on AstraZeneca to bring its COVID vaccine to European markets, American pharma producers will need to continue interfacing with partnered or independent research organizations. Life sciences companies that forge the right partnerships will have the edge in swiftly creating the right facilities and meeting the unwavering demand to help defeat the pandemic and return to a semblance of normalcy.

Damien Gallogly

Damien Gallogly is a Director at Linesight and has over 17 years’ experience in the construction industry. He has worked on a number of large-scale projects, and benefits from considerable international experience across the U.S., UK, Ireland, the Middle East and Asia, giving him an in-depth understanding of working on major developments from early engagement through to project close out. Damien has worked with a range of multinational clients, supporting their development and ambitious programs with valued, strategic counsel.