Contract Pharmaceuticals Limited 
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Creating a lean culture in pharma

How Contract Pharmaceuticals Limited reached a three-week lead time through lean


Practitioner Presentation
Wednesday, Oct. 28 Location Code
11:00am-12:15pm Virtual WS/05



This presentation will focus on Contract Pharmaceuticals Limited's (CPL) lean journey. CPL's lean journey started nearly 10 years ago with some organizational changes and several kaizen projects across the organization. Five years ago, it created a director of continuous improvement role to support the next phase of its journey. With this full-time position in place, the company was able to increase its focus on lean company-wide and work towards a culture that will allow it to become a lean leader within the pharmaceutical industry.


“We want smaller batches, more often,” is a statement that you wouldn't generally hear in a pharmaceutical manufacturing facility. Intuitively, this would require more batch records, more set up, more cleaning, more material movement, more testing and more quality review, so why on earth would anyone want to do this? This is where pharma and lean often differ in their approach to production. Contract Pharmaceuticals has been working to change this paradigm. The company has created a lean culture within its organization that allows it to move towards smaller batches more often with lead times of 3-4 weeks rather than the industry standard of 3-4 months.

All 400 employees have completed a two-day lean overview training program, which helped create the foundation for its most important project to date. It developed a process to reduce the lead time for certain products from 3 months to 3 weeks. The team leading this was called the “Lean Leads” and their mantra was “never short-dated and never out of stock.” In this presentation, discover how the company applied lean principles to its manufacturing operations and used lean knowledge to reduce its lead times.

Host Company

Founded in 1991, Contract Pharmaceuticals Limited started with just a few employees in one facility with a handful of clients and a clear goal: To be the very best CDMO in the liquid and semi-solid contract manufacturing market. Today, it has more than 350 employees and a corporate park with two modern facilities that house its analytical labs, manufacturing suites and warehouses. It works with 15 of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies globally and offers product development, commercial manufacturing, packaging and testing services all under one roof. This means there’s no technology transfer required between development and commercial launch, which minimizes risk and cost for its clients. Learn more at

Presenter: Darren Vanderburgh

Darren Vanderburgh has 30 years of experience in operations and has been practicing or teaching lean principles for almost 25 years. He holds a black belt masters certificate in Lean Six Sigma from the Executive Education Centre at the Schulich School of Business. He spent 20 years in the office furniture industry and 10 years in the pharmaceutical industry in operational leadership positions. He serves as the director of continuous improvement for Contract Pharmaceuticals Limited, where he works across the organization on business improvement projects and lean education.