Accelerating Molecule to Market

March 10, 2020

"The students’ professionalism, well-roundedness, dedication, general intelligence, and ability to deliver astounded me. Way above my expectations!”
- Chris Turnbull, Pfizer Informatics Lead, Drug Product Supply

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer faces two major industry-wide disruptions: an increasing difficulty to deliver blockbuster drugs, and a shift towards precision medicines for cancers and rare diseases. When Pfizer management identified an opportunity to address aspects of both these challenges at their Sandwich, UK facility, they brought in a student team from the University of Michigan's Tauber Institute for Global Operations to review working practices and enhance capacity in clinical manufacturing.

Master of Business Administration student Andrés Fuentes-Afflick and Engineering Global Leadership Honors Program student Jason Ji worked on-site for fourteen weeks, applying the business and engineering skills they learned at the University of Michigan to develop operations solutions that fit the unique needs of the Sandwich facility.

Ji explained, "Focusing on the operation of manufacturing clinical medicines that are tested on patients, a key aspect to highlight is the lead time of seven years for the three phases of trials to confirm the safety and efficacy of the product. This represents a unique difficulty to quickly and effectively deliver medicines to patients. Sandwich primarily produces the medicines for Phase II and III trials, which constitute the longest time frame and biggest barrier to bringing medicines to market. Thus, to quickly and effectively deliver medicines to market, it is vital to have effective and efficient operations within the Sandwich facility."

Learn how the Tauber team achieved a 62% annual batch throughput increase for Pfizer >

The Pfizer clinical manufacturing team project was just one of the 21 industry projects tackled by Tauber Institute business and engineering students during the summer of 2019. Collectively, operations improvements from the 2019 team projects resulted in $390.3 million in savings according to sponsoring company calculations, an average of $30 million per project over three years.

Explore Tauber team project solutions >

On March 10, the Tauber Institute launched 24 team projects for the summer of 2020. The institute is pleased to strengthen its relationships with Amazon, Boeing, Brose, Ford Motor Company, General Electric, General Motors, Mayo Clinic, Microsoft, National Center for Manufacturing Sciences, PepsiCo, Pfizer, Stanley Black & Decker, Steelcase, Stoneridge, Target, and Whirlpool - and to build new partnerships with Anheuser-Busch InBev, Beyond Meat, Curation Foods, and FedEx.

How to sponsor a Tauber team project >

Tauber student teams will work on-site at their sponsoring companies from May through August to find solutions for substantive operations challenges. Solutions may include lean process design and implementation, manufacturing site strategic assessment, sourcing plans, inventory management, logistics, and new product development. Tauber team projects typically provide a significant monetary return on a sponsor’s investment, as well as improvements in areas such as CO2 emissions, energy consumption, throughput time, and supply chain risk.

Contact: Theresa Ceccarelli, Marketing Manager / / 734-647-0308

The Tauber Institute for Global Operations is a joint venture between the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and Michigan Engineering, working together with industry partners to facilitate cross-disciplinary education in global operations management. The Tauber Institute is an inaugural recipient of the UPS George D. Smith Prize for effective and innovative preparation of students to be good practitioners of operations research, management science, or analytics. For more information visit

Prospective Student? Inquire here >