ERP System Ensures Accurate Data for German Pharmaceutical Company

While there are mixed feelings among control engineers about the role of enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems in assuring data accuracy, plant operators at the large Germany-based pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim are using SAP software to assure clean manufacturing data.

The company uses both SAP ERP and SAP Manufacturing suites from SAP AG, the Walldorf, Germany-based enterprise software giant.

In 2005, the company turned to SAP to help automate its paper-based batch record-keeping process across all 15 of its German production units. As well as automating the process, plant operators also needed to make sure the digitized information was accurate. “We wanted to introduce electronic batch records across all pharmaceutical manufacturing to improve accuracy and reliability,” says Thomas Weber, project leader at Boehringer Ingelheim. “We also wanted support for statistical process control to enable timely analysis of production data and rapid corrective action when there was a danger of downtime.”

While the shift from paper records to electronic processing was, in itself, certain to improve data accuracy, the company wanted to take accuracy a step further to ensure the electronic data was error free. As the company collects its production information automatically, it runs through built-in plausibility and variance checks to prevent many of the most common mistakes. “The SAP software immediately alerts the user if an entry is incorrect, eliminating errors at the source,” says Weber.

The company conducted a pilot at its aerosol manufacturing and packaging plant, then rolled out the solution at four production facilities through 2008. During 2009, Weber expects full implementation across the company’s 15 plants.

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