Alcan Implements Stage-Gate System Supporting Lean Six Sigma
by David Vaczek
As pharmaceutical and medical product manufacturers demand more from packaging, Alcan is focusing on new product development as well as continuous process improvement. In the Alcan Commercialization System (ACS), the company is tracking and challenging all processes through the full project development cycle and testing packaging, following design for lean Six Sigma principles.
“By incorporating design for lean Six Sigma and a consistent approach to product development, ACS will greatly improve the integrity of our packaging to meet today’s packaging performance demands,” says Garrett Hager, director, product development and innovation, Alcan Global Pharmaceutical Packaging Plastics Americas (Pennsauken, NJ).
“Continuous-improvement process initiatives employing lean Six Sigma applications are addressing business, technology, manufacturing, and quality disciplines throughout our business,” Hager says.
Continuous process improvement supports meeting emerging demands from customers for packaging solutions that protect sensitive products, he says.
“We are developing new multilayer bottle structures containing barrier materials, as well as developing coatings technology to aid in package barrier. New drug development in ethical and OTC liquid and solid-dose medications requires packaging with better moisture and oxygen barrier properties,” says Hager.
“Different material applications to address material/drug compatibility issues are required for new biotech drugs,” he adds.
ACS is a stage-gate system providing accountability in new project development. “Alcan’s pharmaceutical packaging sector is taking the lead in introducing ACS,” says Larry Blake, director of marketing, Alcan Global Pharmaceutical Packaging Plastics Americas.
ACS stages include assessment of the marketplace, financials, production technology, and outcomes. Packaging is tested to failure using failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA) to define design parameter limits and establish consistent, predictable results, Blake says.
“We are putting in very robust and repeatable processes to ensure that product is well thought out and challenged at each stage of development. We want to ensure that by the time the product is released, we have looked at it from every angle,” Blake says.
“Our customers are becoming more demanding for the packaging of sensitive compounds that require protection. As a plastic solutions provider, we have to make the product and design as stout as possible, with processes that challenge the design, so there are no surprises later,” he adds.