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How Solvias Relocated to a New Location without Missing a Beat

14.04.2011 -

Moving Day - Solvias has successfully relocated 280 workplaces to its new location in Kaiseraugst, Switzerland. More than 100 truckloads of freight with a volume of nearly 4,000 m3 were required to transfer Solvias' analytical services, solid-state-services, process analytical technologies and offices. As the new location is relatively close to the existing synthesis and catalysis units which remain in Basel, the new building ideally supports Solvias' integrated strategy for chemical and analytical development.

A Big Step In The Company's History

Towards the end of 2007, the decision was made to concentrate the majority of Solvias' departments in a new building in Kaiseraugst in the Canton of Aargau (12 km from Basel). In addition to creating space for growth, the move also enabled Solvias to nurture its independent culture in its own building more intensively. The laboratories and offices in the functional yet elegant new building are able to accommodate up to 300 modern workplaces. An additional area of land has been contractually secured for further growth.

"The new building was an important strategic decision for the development of the company. Our future requirements will be very well met by the location as well as the wide laboratory space. This will enable us to react flexibly to changing market conditions and customer requirements," said Hansjörg Walther, CEO of Solvias.

A Logistical Challenge

In a pre-project, the quantity structure and general strategy were evaluated. As Solvias provides services for the pharmaceutical industry under cGMP, it was clear that the whole process of relocation had to mirror this quality standard. The principle of a "Relocation Master Plan" and a "Relocation Master Report" under the supervision of Quality Management/Quality Assurance (QM/QA) was therefore applied. A smooth process with virtually no disassembling of components, using controlled conditions (special trucks, shock sensors, specially padded containers for sensitive equipment, etc.) during the physical move ensured intactness and successful requalification of the analytical equipment.

An inventory control covering 80 parameters per device gave an overview of the complexity.
On this basis three scenarios were elaborated, ranging from a longer relocation period with parallel operation including redundant devices to a short and complete break per department.

A risk based assessment including experts from QM/QA, associates in charge of the analytical devices and external experts decided to use the Christmas period 2010 for a short break per department and a move in five phases.
After completion of all relevant documentation, this strategy was presented to the Swiss Authorities on June 25, 2010. The inspection of the relocation planning and the site under construction in Kaiseraugst led directly to the issuing of a "Certificate of GMP Compliance" for the new site.

Expert Planning And Coordination By Dedicated Teams

In December 2010, 210 workplaces and over 1,000 devices of complex analytical equipment were moved in accordance with the relocation master plan from Basel to the 60 new labs in Kaiseraugst. Minimization of the down time per analytical device was achieved by rigorous planning and risk-based approach for requalification per equipment group.

For the main part, a project team consisting of experts from all disciplines was set up and the project order was defined. Detailed planning per phase and per module (laboratory/office) commenced. Each of the 60 standard labs at the new site had to be individualized to fit the different analytical devices (infrastructure, media). The process of shutting down (final test before moving/extent of first test at new site) had to be determined in a risk analysis per device or device group. Having fixed this, over 40 external service provider companies who had to support Solvias in doing this job had to be involved in setting up another plan which focused on "who does what, where and when" to minimize the down time.

All this had to be reflected in the relocation master plan (and its attachments). The1,000+ devices ranged from HPLC, GC, balances, x-ray apparatus, microscopes, mass spectrometers, to climate chambers, freezers, ultra deep freezers, etc. Also a huge amount of "non- analytical devices" such as samples, chemicals, solvents, archives, offices, IT infrastructure, servers, PC were on the list that had to move and be handled carefully.

In a competitive bidding, a professional and experienced partner was found who could do the physical move under all the boundary conditions and quality aspects that were defined. The release of rooms, infrastructure and equipments and documents was done by QA before the relocation.

The new site in Kaiseraugst was handed over to Solvias on Nov. 12, 2010. The next day the IT and Facility Management (FM) departments moved as advance party/ phase 1. They prepared the IT base and backbone for all other departments and phases.
As an intermediate phase, all the archives, 2,000 running meters from more than a dozen locations at the old sites (Swiss shelter) were moved to two special rooms (analytical archive, company archive COMPACTUS) and organized under a new concept.

From Dec.13-18, phases 2-5 (analytical labs and offices) were executed as planned, each phase lasting 1-2 days. Due to the ecological packing concept (few packing cases, no pallets, no packing paper) with buffered carrying cases and boxes which circulated all the time, all goods had to be unpacked immediately after they reached their predetermined and exactly marked destination inside the labs. The requalification was completed on Jan. 10, 2011.

Overall more than 100 truckloads of freight were transferred with a volume of nearly 4,000 m3. Internally, 12 man-years of work were invested for planning and execution of the relocation. Despite heavy snow, freezing rain and very low temperatures during the move in December, the only damage that was caused was to one street lamp in the parking lot!

Strong Capabilities In Chemical And Analytical Development

The analytical laboratories in Kaiseraugst provide a comprehensive range of analytical services such as method development and validation for pharmaceuticals as well as for biopharmaceutical molecules. To address the increasing customer demand for stability studies, Solvias significantly expanded its existing capacities for stability studies with walk-in stability rooms. Solvias is therefore in a position to cover all ICH storage conditions for stability studies. Solvias is recognized as a market leader in solid-state development, the new facility also houses the laboratories for polymorphism, salts and crystallization screening and development.

By utilizing long-term scientific experience in solid-state development, paired with the latest lab automation technology on low mg scale and high throughput analytical investigation, Solvias can support its customers with a fast salt program to gain scientifically sound information for candidate nomination. Complemented by its scale-up and manufacturing capabilities for APIs up to phase II at its site in Basel, Solvias supports its customers throughout the chemical and analytical development process. A solid technology base in the area of homogeneous asymmetric catalysis and the ability to handle hazardous and high pressure chemistry allows Solvias to tackle a wide range of challenging projects for the synthesis of chiral and complex APIs.

The author would like to thank all co-workers of Solvias, IMS Integrierte Management Systeme e.k. (Pre-Project), Schnellmann Group/ Agustoni Management (Planning), Geuer International Euromovers (Relocation) 


Solvias AG

Im Römerpark 2
4303 Kaiseraugst

+41 61 8456000
+41 61 8456900