In the ever-evolving landscape of contract manufacturing and packaging for OTC pharmaceuticals, this private equity-backed company found itself navigating a series of challenges. These hurdles threatened to compromise their operational efficiency and overall competitiveness.

The private equity-backed provider of contract manufacturing and packaging to OTC pharma, was facing some challenges: high-speed lines dropped from 95% efficiency to 80% caused by mechanical downtime, poor equipment condition, and a lack of preventive maintenance, changeovers taking too long (one day to 1.5 days) and the excessive overtime costs and a loss of talent and technical knowledge.

Challenge: High-speed lines dropped from 95% efficiency to 80% caused by mechanical downtime, poor equipment condition, and a lack of preventive maintenance.

The company faced several critical challenges:

  • Reduced High-Speed Line Efficiency: Their high-speed production lines dropped from 95% to 80% efficiency due to mechanical downtime, equipment condition, and a lack of preventive maintenance, jeopardising production quality and timeliness.
  • Prolonged Changeover Times: Changeovers, transitioning between product runs, took one to 1.5 days, causing delays, increased costs, and added strain on the workforce.
  • Escalating Overtime Costs: Extended downtime led to higher overtime expenses, impacting labour costs and employee well-being.
  • Loss of Talent and Expertise: Skilled technicians and engineers left due to ongoing efficiency problems, leading to a loss of valuable knowledge.

Solution: Improve efficiency and reduce downtime by implementing the Single Minute Exchange of Dies (SMED) process, conduct a maintenance diagnostics, and correct equipment deficiencies.

The organisation embarked on a comprehensive strategy to optimise its processes and equipment performance. Central to this initiative was the implementation of the SMED (Single Minute Exchange of Dies Process) to streamline changeover times and bolster equipment uptime.

In parallel, a thorough maintenance diagnostic was conducted to pinpoint and prioritise the key factors contributing to downtime. Building on this diagnostic, the company laid the foundation for a maintenance programme, emphasising regular cleaning, inspection, and the prompt correction of equipment deficiencies. This programme included critical steps of equipment cleanliness, condition assessment, the establishment of protocols for part replacement, and the creation of standardised maintenance procedures.


Results: 6-8% increased throughput on high-speed packaging lines enables manufacturer to increase production.

The time-saving measures implemented in these events yielded remarkable results for the organisation, translating into a significant boost in operational efficiency.

  • Time saved from these events provided 6-8% additional throughput.
  • SMED activities on 4 of 7 lines resulted in a 70% reduction in changeover times.
  • Maintenance focus addressed chronic unplanned downtime on the improved bottling lines—resulting in increased efficiency from the low 80% range to the low 90% range.


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