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Keywords:

  • biopharmaceutical manufacturing processes;
  • stochastic decision-support tools;
  • discrete-event simulation;
  • multivariate analysis;
  • principal component analysis;
  • parallel co-ordinate plots

This article describes a decision-support tool to help pinpoint the potential root causes of sub-optimal short-term facility fit issues in biopharmaceutical facilities. This was achieved by creating a tool that integrated stochastic simulation with advanced multivariate statistical analysis. Process fluctuations in product titers in cell culture, step yields, and chromatography eluate volumes were mimicked using Monte Carlo simulation data derived using a stochastic discrete-event simulation model. The resulting stochastic datasets, with the computed consequences on key metrics such as product mass loss and cost of goods, were examined using advanced multivariate statistical techniques. Principal component analysis combined with clustering algorithms was used to analyze the complex datasets from complete industrial batch processes for biopharmaceuticals. The challenge of visualizing the multidimensional nature of the dataset was addressed using hierarchical and k-means clustering as well as stacked parallel co-ordinate plots to help identify process fingerprints and characteristics of clusters leading to sub-optimal facility fit issues. Industrially-relevant case studies are presented that focus on technology transfer challenges for therapeutic antibodies moving from early phase to late phase clinical trials. The case study details how sub-optimal facility fit can be alleviated by allocating alternative product pool tanks. The impact of this operational change is then assessed by reviewing an updated process fingerprint. © 2013 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Biotechnol. Prog., 29: 368–377, 2013