MilliporeSigma has expedited planned capacity expansions at sites in Massachusetts and New Hampshire after seeing a surge in demand for bioprocess equipment from coronavirus therapy and vaccine developers.
The Jaffray, New Hampshire facility manufactures single-use components and filtration equipment for biopharma manufacturers. Having added 38,500 square feet of production space last year, MilliporeSigma is now moving forward with a $22 million 25,000 square-foot expansion, adding new production lines and equipment.
Concurrently in Danvers, Massachusetts, a 65,000 square-foot expansion – representing a $25 million investment – is now underway, increasing the capacity for single-use assembly systems.
“The global coronavirus pandemic has significantly increased demand for our single use products and also the filtration technology products that we have in Jaffrey,” Chris Ross, MilliporeSigma’s interim CEO told Bioprocess Insider.
He added the vendor is supplying more than 50 different companies who are working on vaccine candidates against COVID-19, and more than 20 customers who are working on monoclonal antibodies, plasma products and antivirals.
“As a consequence, we have accelerated our planned expansions, which were there for the future,” he continued, “and we’re bringing online new production lines to add capacity as we speak.”
Speed of expansion
The two expansions are set to be online in a manner of months, “which is really unprecedented in terms of the speed,” Ross said.
“We mobilised down an internal team, and we had good exposure to our contractors and construction firms that we’ve worked with in the past over the course of the last months and years on our continuous upgrades and continuous capacity expansions.
“If you look at the focus here on public health, you look at the focus on really helping being part of the solution, the entire team, both internal and external, was phenomenal.”
Strong bioprocess base
Ross did not divulge the size of the COVID tailwind but said the coronavirus factor “is a rather significant surge.” However, it comes on the back of an exceptionally strong base.
The bioprocess sector has seen years of substantial growth with all the major vendors – Cytiva, Thermo Fisher, Sartorius, Pall, and of course MilliporeSigma – regularly reporting year-on-year double-digit growth.
“We’re seeing a process solutions business, which is the business unit within MilliporeSigma that focuses on the biopharma pharma production operations, if you will. We provide a very comprehensive suite of products throughout the entire value chain of the pharma biopharma process, and that business has been very strong.
“And now we’re adding on top of that this surge, which in the near term is significant, but I will say the base business is very strong.”
As such, Ross is confident that even if the pandemic wanes and the need for COVID-19 therapeutics and vaccines dwindles, MilliporeSigma will not be at risk of ending up with too much capacity.
“What we’re putting on board here now will certainly address the near term…but this capacity, as I mentioned, was planned in the future anyway. So what we’ve done is actually just accelerated it and brought it forward in record time, but it would be needed over the course of time,” he said.
“We’ll be in good shape and I think we’ll be positioned well should things calm a bit to continue to grow [and] continue to develop ahead of the market.”