Plant Expansion for Apotex Includes Factory Automation and Plant Floor to Top Floor Integration

August 17, 2012


Plant Automation, Expansion & SAP Manufacturing Integration Implemented to Keep Up with Rising Product Demand

The Project

Factory Automation Apotex

In order to continue to meet the rising demand for its products, Apotex realized that it would need to undertake a significant plant expansion of the production capacity at its solid dose facility in Etobicoke, Ontario. Grantek was selected by Apotex to fully automate their manufacturing process and link these systems to the company’s ERP system (SAP).

The Opportunity – Manufacturing Automation to Achieve Increased Efficiencies

Prior to the expansion, production lines at the Etobicoke plant relied on manual, non-integrated systems. Apotex had introduced automation in some of its other facilities and wanted to build on the knowledge gained and look for new opportunities to integrate and automate systems for the expanded Etobicoke facility.

Given the extraordinary complexity and size of the undertaking, Apotex chose Grantek to lead the automation effort and help them to realize opportunities to increase efficiencies in the business/ manufacturing processes. Grantek had considerable experience in automating systems for Apotex and other pharmaceutical manufacturers and brought an intimate knowledge of Apotex’s existing processes and systems to the project.

Grantek’s Solution to Achieve Operational Excellence

The $238 million expansion resulted in a fully integrated, multi-level symphony of automated lifts, conveyers and automatic guided vehicles that move product from storage to production suites to warehouses at the command of the Grantek system. Radio frequency identification tags and barcodes keep track of bins, totes and other assorted containers, and relay batch and product weight information to the corporate ERP system.

Grantek took on the electrical design, electrical construction management, control panels, software design, database design, ERP software interface and installation for 16 different sub-systems. These included the guided vehicle interface, yield check system, plant-wide logistics system, packaging tote delivery system, discharge stations, receiving stations and warehouse conveyor system.

Grantek’s ability to completely integrate the plant floor with the ERP system provided Apotex with true traceability of their manufacturing processes, with real-time information visibility of their warehouses, material flow, work in process and work inventory. The linking of “islands of automation” led to direct increases in productivity.

The Apotex Etobicoke expansion project was chosen as one of five finalists in the ISPE (International Society of Pharmaceutical Engineering) “Facility of the Year” award for pharmaceutical manufacturing. Finalists were selected from a field of 28 outstanding entries from around the world. The prestigious award recognizes global leaders that have demonstrated tremendous levels of quality and creativity in facility design that leads to a significant increase in the quality, production and safety of medicines, while lowering costs.

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