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Discrete Event Simulation Modelling For Dynamic Decision Making In Biopharmaceutical Manufacturing

Authors: Madhu Sachidananda, John Erkoyuncu, Daniel Steenstra, Sandra Michalska


With the increase in demand for biopharmaceutical products, industries have realised the need to scale up their manufacturing from laboratory-based processes to financially viable production processes. In this context, biopharmaceutical manufacturers are increasingly using simulation-based approaches to gain transparency of their current production system and to assist with designing improved systems. This paper discusses the application of Discrete Event Simulation (DES) and its ability to model the various scenarios for dynamic decision making in biopharmaceutical manufacturing sector. This paper further illustrates a methodology used to develop a simulation model for a biopharmaceutical company, which is considering several capital investments to improve its manufacturing processes. A simulation model for a subset of manufacturing activities was developed that facilitated ‘what-if’ scenario planning for a proposed process alternative. The simulation model of the proposed manufacturing process has shown significant improvement over the current process in terms of throughout time reduction, better resource utilisation, operating cost reduction, reduced bottlenecks etc. This visibility of the existing and proposed production system assisted the company in identifying the potential capital and efficiency gains from the investments therefore demonstrating that DES can be an effective tool for making more informed decisions. Furthermore, the paper also discusses the utilisation of DES models to develop a number of bespoke productivity improvement tools for the company.


Discrete Event Simulation; Biopharmaceutical Manufacturing; Dynamic Decision Making

Citation: Madhu Sachidananda, John Erkoyuncu, Daniel Steenstra, Sandra Michalska Discrete Event Simulation Modelling For Dynamic Decision Making In Biopharmaceutical Manufacturing

Received: 3 July 2015, Accepted: 16 July 2015, Available online: 28 July 2016

Copyright: © 2015 Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license

The study has highlighted the value of applying computer-aided tools in decision-making for biopharmaceutical (and other)  manufacturing.  Whilst  simulation  techniques  are widely utilized to address various operational issues, there is an opportunity for their increased and targeted application in biopharmaceutical process modelling. This paper has presented a Discrete Event Simulation (DES) model for a subset of GT manufacturing process that was developed in Witness. The systematic methodology adopted in this paper allowed modelling of both discrete and continuous flow of elements  which is intrinsic to GT manufacturing. Moreover, the modular approach and the integration of the simulation engine with an external .csv file confer maximum flexibility for ‘what-if’ scenario planning and allow dynamic assessment of various process alternatives. The DES model developed for the company provided a sense of reality into the existing and proposed process flow enabling focus groups to easily map the specific areas of improvement and potential benefits in terms of cost, risk, time, material, manpower etc. Additionally the results from the simulation model were used as support material in explaining and defending decisions to various stakeholders, which has demonstrated a streamlined approach to business decision-making. The quantification of parameters in DES model has also been utilized in an investment appraisal tool to facilitate rational and objective evaluation of the proposed investment decisions.

This work was funded by Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative (Grant No.: 32823-233272) that is aimed at building robust production and supply systems for advance therapies.

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