At the end of September, 2016, all activity at the Mayas factory in Mexico was transferred to the new industrial site of Argo Navis. A look back on this major project and the challenges it presented with the Virbac Mexico Industrial director.
What an adventure!
Although the story of Virbac Mexico started in 1989, it was really in 1992 that the subsidiary came to maturity. It was then that it acquired the Provena laboratories and moved to the Mayas area of Guadalajara. There have been major developments since then: the doubling of production and sales between 2010 and 2016, development of exports to Latin America and Asia (accounting for more than 40% of production) and the establishment of a regional R&D center which is the source of most of the top 10 products of the subsidiary. Increasing production capacity therefore became necessary, as well as improving operational control to improve response to local demand for quality.
Argo Navis, a necessary step
The solution? Construct a new building on land acquired by Virbac to bring together in one place all the subsidiary’s operations: industrial production, warehousing, quality control laboratory and administrative offices. Extending and improving the Mayas site in rented buildings was not a viable option, mainly for security reasons related to its location in a residential area. Buying an existing industrial site would have cost more than the $20 million (including land) invested in the Argo Navis site. After three years of construction and a phased relocation of some administrative operations starting in 2014, all that remained in 2016 was a single step, but a significant one: the transfer of production.
Stage one: define the scope of productionon the new site, in the light of business and regulatory criteria. Effectively, most lactam production from non be talactam production, as well as outsourcing of some non sterile oral solutions to Brazil or local manufacturers. All in all, 80% of production at Argo Navis relates to injectable solutions, which makes it the alter ego of the VB8 site at Carros. Lastly, production of obsolete products, less than 5% of production, was terminated.
Quite a challenge!
Once the scope of production had been defined, our Virbac teams had still to meet many challenges. First, on a technological level, moving from mainly manual production to an entirely automated system led Industrial Development to produce more than 60 pilot batches to recreate the physical conditions of production (speed, temperature…) on the new equipment. As for sales, we analyzed each product to define the reserve stocks required to ensure continuity of deliveries. Updating all marketing authorization files, following requests for variation relating to the change of production site, also proved a major hurdle. Close collaboration between new recruits, with experience of the pharmaceutical industry and quality control procedures, and those who were already in post, and thus were familiar with Virbac’s operations, was a key element in the success of the project. These challenges were passed with flying colors by the local teams, production from the Mayas site was takenon by Argo Navis. Local regulatory constraints (an international trend) required, however, the separation of beta enabling Argo Navis to respond forthwith to the growth of the market in this region.