Aesica Pharmaceutical’s new High Capacity Manufacturing Facility in Queenborough, Kent is set for a full year of commercial manufacture in 2014.
The facility will initially produce one billion tablets a year and with plans to expand, the facility has the capability to produce up to 2.5 billion tablets a year. Each batch consists of a million tablets and over 1000 batches will be produced each year.
The facility is being constructed in two phases; phase one is now complete and has seen the construction of a completely new building on what was previously unused land on the existing Aesica site. One end is completely fitted out and the other end is currently empty and is ideal for further expansion within the complex.
Designer and principal contractor Scitech began work on site in July 2012 and the construction phase took 18 months in total to complete. Scitech are a multi-disciplinary design and build contractor serving exclusively the pharmaceutical, biotech and healthcare sector. The company is independent and employee owned with in excess of 70 technical professional offering a full range of engineering, construction and professional services specially designed and packaged to suit the needs of pharmaceutical contract manufacturers like Aesica.
The onsite team’s first stage was to put in the piling for the foundation before erecting the structural framework for the building and cladding it with steel. Apertures and cut-outs were strategically placed and the key process equipment and main services were installed over the next year. The building was finally sealed in the spring of 2013.
The heart of the process comprises of two 18 metre tall spray granulators which run from the ground floor to the second floor service void; they create the granules which can then be tableted. The facility also comprises of two large double-sided tablet presses and two tablet coaters which is the last process before the product is packaged up.
Everything within the facility is transported around in giant Intermediate Bulk Containers, one of which is 3500 litres; the biggest IBC that MatCon have ever made. Matcon specialise in providing solutions for handling powders, granules, tablets and other materials.
Premier Construction caught up with Mike Battrum, Head of Engineering at Aesica to find out how the project is going so far. Mike said:
“We started the project in November 2011 and by December had selected a contractor for the project; we chose Scitech who are based in Woking, Surrey and have been an absolute pleasure to work with.
“The design process began on 2nd January 2012.Scitech’s in house architects and design team worked closely with the Aesica team to establish the footprint, the building design and the internal process layouts. Scitech engaged with civil and structural engineers Kirk Saunders to complete the civil engineering and structural aspects. We are currently in the final testing phase and aim to have a full year of commercial production in 2014.”
Mike Battrum said upon completion the venue will offer a lot to the local community:
“The facility has created up to 55 local jobs in a range of fields. The facility acts as a huge boost to the team in Queenborough because it effectively secures their future. The investment of £30 million at the Queenborough site is a big accomplishment in this day and age as the number of new pharmaceutical facilities being opened in the UK is small.
“We are definitely bucking the trend which is fantastic. On a larger scale the project proves that people in the UK can put significant construction projects together in an industrial environment.”
Principal contractor Scitech have previously worked with a plethora of clients including with GSK, Pfizer, GE Healthcare, Penn, UCB and MedImmune.
Scitech’s Jonathan Harriss, architect and lead design for the project said:
“Aesica is a new client for Scitech; we have developed an excellent working relationship and hope that this continues on future projects. We knew we had to deliver a good service so the contract could run as smoothly as possible.
“We prefer a collaborative approach with our clients, working together to achieve the best solution possible. For Scitech achieving the `Perfect Outcome` is the aspiration that drives our business.”