A leading French pharma company’s primary manufacturing sites under was responsible for the global supply of its pharmaceutical active ingredients, which were all used in key products of the Company.


The Assignment – Planned Plant Shutdown

The plant had experienced exceptional growth over recent years and was strategic to the region (India, China, etc.), operating with a lean structure of 180 employees and supported by a site manager in charge of the technical department.

The company had a planned plant closure for mandatory maintenance work. Due to a manpower shortage within the technical department X-PM’s client felt it had become necessary to bring in additional support. He observed that they were suffering from an immediate and unforeseen lack of management resource, which we considered could have an impact on the success of the shutdown.


A decision was taken and immediate action to appoint an external transition manager to support the planned plant closure. X-PM’s client felt they needed to put themselves in the best position to be able to cope with the pending task, and taking on a transition manager with significant hands-on experience seemed the most sensible route to take.

The transition manager would need to be completely immersed and involved from the outset, supporting the technical team in running the operation during the plant shutdown.

The key objectives of the transition manager would be to lead and guide the E&I Maintenance team, quickly understand the role of the mechanical engineering team and to get up-to-speed on the process for the maintenance shutdown. The transition manager appointed would need to ensure quality reports would be delivered according to the schedule, and project timelines were met.

What was also outlined was the fact that the appointed individual would not have to have a pharma or maintenance background.

X-PM’s client called X-PM and asked us to provide the Transition Site Engineering Manager (TM), whose main objectives would be to support operationally during the December shut-down and enhance leadership in the technical department.

The initial duration of the mission was for three months, supporting the shut down and then going on to assess the overall operation and efficiency of the department.

Within days of being briefed, X-PM was able to deploy someone not only with strong technical expertise, but also the right mindset; someone who would be able to coach the team and manage implementation.


X-PM deployed an executive with more than 29 years of experience working across high technology industries, specifically the semi-conductor market, in France, the UK, China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, ranging from operations, project management, quality and reliability assurance, to general management.

X-PM’s manager had a history of successfully implementing world-class manufacturing practices to align operations with company objectives.

His work has seen him project-managing large programs, rolling out standardized compliance processes, instilling lean manufacturing methodology and implementing best practices for continuous improvement such as TQM and ISO certification programs for various industries.

A couple of weeks before the shutdown, X-PM’s manager joined the team and immediately set out to oversee the entire project coordination – ensuring it was fully on track, at the same time – identifying areas for improvement.

Successful Outcomes

  • The planned plant closure was successful and ran on time
  • Developed specific metrics to identify the skill of employees to do the job, and the required training needs
  • Implemented new KPI’s to track technical department performances
  • Extended lessons learned process sharing to support future turnaround projects.

X-PM’s manager commented: “Working in a different industry was both interesting, but also challenging. What you don’t have to do is reinvent the wheel. Best practices developed in other industries can be transferable. At the end of the day, it is about sharing knowledge and experience.

“It was also good that the work wasn’t only limited to the scope of my contract, and that I could identify other areas where the plant could become leaner and more efficient.”

X-PM’s client noted that X-PM’s manager provided exactly the resource that was needed to ensure a successful transition, he delivered more than was expected, and he also helped to put in place a better structure for the future of the engineering/technical facility, creating real performance improvements.

The plant was able to begin trading on time after the shut down, and today the plant continues to run well.  X-PM’s client appreciated the fact that the solution was a real catalyst for making this happen.