Gradual capacity rollouts reducing lead times, says Thermo

Bioproduction capital expenditure projects totaling upwards of $600 million are coming online and bringing lead times back to a pre-pandemic level, says Thermo Fisher.

In March 2021, Thermo Fisher Scientific announced plans to invest “more than $600 million in capital investments to expand its bioprocessing production capabilities through 2022.” This included a range of capacity expansion projects focused on single-use technologies, chromatography resins, and cell culture media already in the company’s pipeline either already underway or expedited due to COVID-19-related demand.

Eighteen months on and most of these expansions are complete and operational, management said on their third quarter 2022 call last week.

“Back in early 2021, we outlined our goals for expanding our capacity to meet the really strong long-term growth trends in our pharma services and our bioproduction businesses, and really what we did is we looked at our 5-year roadmap of what we were planning to bring forward, and we pulled some of those things forward,” CEO Marc Casper told stakeholders.

“We opened a facility, a second facility in Utah. We opened up a facility in Tennessee. Both of those are operational. We expanded our Grand Island, New York cell culture media facility, that’s also largely complete. And we just opened our purification facility in Massachusetts, which is our second purification facility. So, we are largely complete with the investments in bioproduction.”

While these projects are online, they are not operating at full capacity, he said. “We are rather going through the thoughtful ramp up, and that will continue to ramp up through 2023 and even into 2024 to bring it to kind of more of the full utilization.”

But what the capacity is doing is bringing lead times “back to more normal pre-pandemic levels,” he said.

“When I think about purification, which I think is worth a moment on, we were literally capacity constrained. We had demand that was so strong that we weren’t able to bring on a lot of new business over the last few months.”

Referring to the 85,000 square-foot purification plant opening earlier in the quarter, Casper said: “That allow us to continue to support the growth of new molecules and our customers,” said Casper.

For the three months ending September 30, the firm reported sales in its Life Sciences Solution business – which includes Bioproduction – of $2.96 billion. The segment represented 27.7% of Thermo Fisher’s total revenues of $10.7 billion.