Big Impact in Small Spaces: Reducing Biomanufacturing Facility Footprint with Process Intensification

Reducing your bioprocess footprint can help you maximize efficiency and conserve valuable resources. Find out how to save space at your site with process intensification.

This article is posted on our Science Snippets Blog.


In the biopharma industry, the physical requirements of your biologics manufacturing facility are often the greatest drain on your resources. By increasing the throughput of your process and reducing your operational footprint, you can resolve space limitations in your existing facilities while also making it easier to build efficient facilities in the future.

In this blog, we’ll unpack some of the incentives for reducing bioprocess footprint, explain why process intensification is the best way to achieve this, and provide key considerations to help you get started with making your own improvements.


Saving Precious Space: Reasons to Reduce Footprint

There are many advantages that you can gain by reducing your bioprocess footprint. Some of the highest priorities for leading biopharma industry experts include:

  • Saving costs – Facility overhead costs run high, including capital expenditures on water, energy, and temperature control. Downsizing process footprint and optimizing facility utilization is one of the only ways to lower these costs. This incentive is especially important for smaller biomanufacturing companies, for whom overhead costs usually dominate raw materials costs.
  • Eliminating inefficiencies – GMP-compliant spaces are particularly expensive to maintain, so you want to make sure every square foot is used well. Shrinking your process footprint down to the necessities can give you the freedom to rearrange a cleanroom – or other areas of your facility – to use physical space better.
  • Streamlining site expansion – Bioprocesses with smaller footprints are often less complex to set up. By minimizing your bioprocess footprint, you make it easier to duplicate your process and build entirely new facilities from the ground up. By bringing new production lines online more quickly, you can avoid delays and spend your capital efficiently.
  • Making facilities more flexible – Since shrinking process footprint frees up precious space in an existing biomanufacturing facility, it can create opportunities to add parallel production lines. This means you can gain the ability to increase the number of batches and/or products produced simultaneously at your site, giving you more options and versatility.
  • Improving sustainability – Reducing your bioprocess footprint also reduces your carbon footprint. Maintaining a sizable cleanroom is especially energy-intensive, consuming up to 70% of a site’s total energy used. You can diminish your energy needs by downsizing your cleanroom.


Featured Report: Process Intensification: Key Considerations and Expert Insights

Download this report to discover the top five areas in which process intensification strategies can help biologics manufacturers achieve their organizational goals. Get data-driven insights from industry leaders and experts, from pharma to CDMOs.

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Bioprocess Intensification: Downsizing Without Sacrificing Productivity

Process intensification technologies build efficiencies into your bioprocess that enable you to reduce your GMP footprint. This can mean eliminating entire process steps, increasing volumetric productivity to reduce equipment size, or rearranging your setup to perform certain tasks off-site or outside cleanroom environments.

Once you’ve decided to use process intensification to reduce your process and facility footprint, it’s time to think about finding the intensification strategies that best fit your organization and goals. Some initial questions to ask yourself include:

  • Do you intend to perform cell banking on-site? – On-site cell banking requires many incubators, shakers, and other equipment that occupies a significant amount of operational footprint, despite not being in daily use. Many biopharma producers don’t even realize that some service providers, including Sartorius, offer cell banking and testing services that let you move cell banking off-site for significant space savings.
  • How much media and buffer do you need for your bioprocess to reach the target scale and future maximum scale? – It’s important to think holistically as you go about upgrading your process. Some upstream intensifications require greater volumes of media and buffer, meaning you’ll have to plan ahead to make sure process intensification advantages in one area aren’t being outweighed by footprint complications in another. Fortunately, Sartorius experts are here to help you consider every step of your media management journey as your implement process intensification. For an overview of media management strategies and solutions for both new and existing facilities, check out our comprehensive whitepaper!
  • What does your seed train look like? What is your ratio of seed trains to N-stage bioreactors? – If you have multiple production bioreactors operating at once, increasing the cell density output of your seed train by using intensification technologies can allow you to seed multiple production bioreactors from a single seed train and therefore reduce the total amount of seed train equipment required.
  • Have you considered optimizing productivity to permit downscaling of bioreactor size? – Even as you consider changing or eliminating certain steps in your bioprocess, you can also think about making the essential steps smaller. Various types of intensified processes, such as dynamic perfusion, offer you the option to operate at smaller volumes while still getting the same amount of product.

We examine each of these considerations and the relevant technologies in our comprehensive process intensification report, which includes insights from bioprocess experts across the industry. For example, you’ll get to unpack the pros and cons of building continuous bioprocesses and read real-world examples of how efficient solution management has enabled massive facility footprint reduction. To shrink your bioprocess and do more with less space, download the report today!

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