Heading to Wuhan

Pharma-Engineering

Bayer Technology Services is active in central China, as well. The company recently completed the planning for a production site in Wuhan for healthcare company Fresenius Kabi, for example, and also provided support during construction.

800 kilometers in five hours: for their project, Bayer Technology Services employees spent several months commuting by train from Shanghai to Wuhan.

Huhanrong. In the local vernacular, Huhanrong is the name for the highspeed train that, for the last few years, has linked Shanghai on China’s eastern seaboard with Chengdu in the west. In the name, “hu” stands for Shanghai and “han” for Wuhan, a city of millions that lies along the line at the confluence of the Yangtze and Han rivers. Previously, going by train between the two major cities took ten hours or more. Since the completion of the high-speed connection, however, it’s possible to do the 800 kilometer journey in five.

For Eric Sun and a dozen of his colleagues from Bayer Technology Services in Shanghai, that turned out to be a good thing. In 2014, they spent many months working in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, and most of them traveled back and forth every weekend, commuting with the Huhanrong.

The Bayer experts made the regular journey in the service of Fresenius Kabi. The company, headquartered in Germany, was in the process of building its sixth Chinese site in Wuhan, focused primarily on producing cancer medication for the growing Chinese market.

The company leased a building in the newly constructed Wuhan Biopark to set up a plant, and the four-story construction required customizing to meet Fresenius Kabi’s requirements. Floors and stairwells needed to be reinforced to meet load-bearing requirements and its “U” shape made fitting a production line difficult – but not impossible. To make the necessary changes and adapt the site to its needs, Fresenius Kabi went in search of an engineering partner. They found Bayer Technology Services.

Initially, a comprehensive restructuring concept had to be developed. Under the project leadership of Eric Sun, a team of thirty experts came up with a detailed proposal within two months. For a number of the Bayer employees, this was their first engineering experience in the pharmaceutical field, and it was a project with a number of very special requirements. Among other compliance requirements, the strict standards set by Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) had to be adhered to.

In Wuhan, this meant constructing clean rooms in line with the particularly stringent Class A standards. All filling areas had to comply with these specifications. The Class A standard stipulates, for instance, that particles larger than five micrometers can occur no more than 20 times per cubic meter of air. In the classical chemical production areas in which many of the Bayer employees had previously worked, the rules are not as strict.

“We were impressed by the abilities and high standards of the Bayer project team.”

Yueyun Chen

Plant Manager Wuhan, Fresenius Kabi

And another aspect is different – in the pharmaceutical field, the entire HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) system is far more crucial than in plants designed to process petrochemicals. A heating system like the one planned for Wuhan is not at all what one would usually expect to find in the chemical production field.

GMP also affects the arrangement of devices and equipment. For example, the distance between a component and the nearest wall has to be sufficient to allow the space between to be adequately cleaned to fulfill hygiene requirements. And such things need to be taken into consideration very early, which is where Yang Lu comes in. An experienced healthcare engineer, she knows the demands faced by engineering in pharmaceutical areas, and led the development of the concept.

Other aspects, however, are easier when it comes to planning a pharmaceutical production facility. “As a rule, everything is an order of magnitude smaller, because pharmaceutical products are manufactured in much smaller quantities,” explains project leader Sun. The daily production of a petrochemical site, for example, can exceed the entire annual output of a pharmaceuticals facility.

Once Sun’s team had submitted a persuasive, workable concept, Fresenius Kabi immediately awarded Bayer Technology Services two subsequent contracts. Under these, Bayer Technology Services would be responsible for part of the procurement as well as project management during the construction phase. As a result, around fifteen of Sun’s staff spent six months mostly on site in Wuhan, and were regular passengers on the Huhanrong highspeed service.

In September 2014, the first part of the three-phase construction project was completed. The client was especially satisfied that the project was able to stay completely on schedule despite facing a number of technical hurdles along the way. Yueyun Chen, Plant Manager Wuhan for Fresenius Kabi, says, “Our company was impressed by the abilities and high standards of the Bayer project team.

They were extremely diligent, actively providing solutions to unavoidable technical issues during the project’s implementation phase, helping to keep it on schedule.” The local plant manager was also very pleased with the high safety standards set by the Bayer employees, avoiding all potential incidents throughout the entire construction period. " This will certainly not be the last joint project we work on in China,” Chen adds.

The Bayer Technology Services employees in Shanghai would certainly be pleased with a new collaboration. And who knows? Maybe they’ll get to acquaint themselves with a different high-speed train.

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  1. Huijie HongFK project is one of very successful pharm project done by BTES in China. The team is really great step by step to let the project going forward, and at same time, the team get trust from FK. One of the key for success is the quality. The quality is not only focus on the deliveries but also communication, respect, and attitude. Thanks for the team to make things happen. Also thanks for the high-speed train to make life more easy.
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