2021 IAAA Finalist Eindhoven University of Technology and MSD Animal Health

Operations Research Improves Biomanufacturing Efficiency at MSD Animal Health

Biomanufacturing methods use living organisms (i.e., viruses and bacteria) to generate active ingredients, and this leads to challenges that are different to those incurred by other industries. For example, biomanufacturers often deal with high levels of uncertainty and batch-to-batch variability in production yield, lead times, and costs. Bio-safety requirements impose constraints, such as a no-wait requirement throughout the production process. In addition, biomanufacturing operations are cost and labor intensive, and involve high risks of failure. To address these challenges, a multidisciplinary team of researchers collaborated over three years to develop a portfolio of optimization models and decision support tools. These tools were aimed at improving biomanufacturing efficiency using a variety of operations research methodologies, including stochastic optimization, Bayesian design of experiments, and simulation-optimization. The developed models link the underlying biology and chemistry of biomanufacturing processes with financial trade-offs and business risks. The research has been conducted in close collaboration with Merck Sharp & Dohme Animal Health (MSD AH) in Boxmeer, the Netherlands. Industry implementation at MSD AH had a significant impact with up to 50% increase in batch yield and an additional revenue of 50 million euro per year.

Tugce Martagan, Eindhoven University of Technology
Bram van Ravenstein, MSD Animal Health
Oscar Repping and Marc Baaijens, MSD Animal Health