Navigating COVID with supply chain ‘war room’ and digital tech

Samsung Biologics says virtual capabilities and supply chain management led to a successful year, despite the global pandemic.

John Rim, the newly appointed president and CEO of Samsung Biologics, used a presentation at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference to reveal that the company had signed $1.7 billion (€1.4billion) in contracts during 2021, a record for the company.

Explaining how the company had managed to achieve this, Rim called attention to Samsung Biologics’ capacity for virtual exhibition halls and live-streaming tours.

Image: iStock/daboost

When asked for more details, a spokesperson for the company told BioProcess Insider that Samsung Biologics had already laid the foundations for tools utilized during 2020, explaining that a 360-degree virtual tour was available on its website prior to the pandemic.

Adapting to the pandemic

The adoption of such digital technology provided the company one way of continuing its sales activities, given the demand for services to manufacture therapeutics against COVID-19.

In direct response to the pandemic, “We elevated our digitalization strengths [by] offering live virtual tours along with a fully-fledged virtual exhibition hall and a virtual showroom for our recently announced facility (Plant 4),” the spokesperson added.

Samsung Biologics also began operating a supply chain management ‘war room’ once the pandemic struck, the spokesperson explained. This involved working with key suppliers to ensure a supply of raw materials and to receive ‘real-time alerts’ on the supply chain network.

The spokesperson suggested that pharma companies looked to contract development and manufacturing organizations (CDMOs) in the Asia region due to their ‘agile pandemic response’, where Samsung Biologics holds an advantage over competitors due to the manufacturing capacity it possesses.

For instance, the company was able to benefit from the additional capacity brought on board with the completion of plant 3.

Focus for 2021

During his presentation, Rim said that the focus for the company this year will be on the further expansion of capacity with the construction of ‘plant 4’, with all other facilities expected to be near-full utilization in 2021.

Samsung Biologics began construction of the plant in November of last year and, according to the spokesperson, it is expected to be partially good manufacturing practice (GMP) operational in early 2023 and fully GMP-ready by the end of that same year.

The new plant will allow clients to progress through early-stages into commercial manufacturing at the same site.

In terms of digital features, the spokesperson stated, “Plant 4 will also leverage its recently launched Enterprise Quality Unified Information System, allowing clients secure access to request, review, and approve documents and quality records related to their products on-demand.”

Further than plant 4, Rim suggested that the company is looking at potential portfolio diversification, including the option of working on vaccines, and cell and gene therapies.

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