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McLaren Group and GSK

Case study: GSK

McLaren’s affiliation with GSK began in 2011, and today takes the company into areas ranging from pharmaceutical research to advanced manufacturing.  The partnership calls upon many of McLaren Applied’s core competencies including data management, predictive analytics and simulation in design. Our over-arching task is to apply our knowledge in ways that will deliver innovation and performance to GSK’s global business.

In the field of clinical research, McLaren’s expertise in processing large amounts of data in real-time is proving particularly useful. Over the course of a typical grand prix weekend the racing team will capture more than a billion data points from the 200+ sensors located on each car. Transmitting, analysing and presenting the results of this acquisition allows engineers and strategists to make informed decisions in real time. What works for the pitwall is also valid in the lab, and so our expertise has been adapted to manage data in medicine discovery research – but also for ‘biotelemetry’ in clinical research.

Biotelemetry is the remote and continuous assessment of physical and physiological characteristics. This is becoming a useful tool in clinical trials, allowing GSK to collect patient data in real time. It helps to provide continuous evaluation and thus contributes to fuller records than single-point assessments could provide, while also removing the inconvenience to patients of having to adapt their schedule to accommodate assessments and clinic visits.

McLaren’s engineers and GSK’s scientists are now also working in collaboration to better analyse, interpret and present the wealth of data created as part of GSK’s global R&D operation. The end goal is to facilitate scientists exploring and understanding new compounds more comprehensively, thus allowing GSK to reach swifter, better informed and more objective decisions about its medicines discovery process.

One such project has seen McLaren’s sensor and telemetry expertise adopted to monitor recovery in stroke victims and people suffering with severe arthritis, which allows GSK clinicians to record when and to what degree patients are mobile. Although this is currently in a trial phase at the early stages of development, it could revolutionise the way drug trials are delivered. With so much clinical research being evidence-based, biotelemetry increases confidence in a trial and ensures results are more accurate. This contributes to bringing new drugs to market sooner and at lower cost.

These are cutting edge technologies for cutting edge projects – but McLaren’s expertise is equally useful in high volume production settings. One such example is the way in which we’ve helped GSK minimise downtime at a toothpaste factory.

In motorsport, the lap chart isn’t the only place where speed is critical. Working in tight conditions and under severe time constraints to replace a damaged rear wing or gearbox isn’t a procedure that simply happens. Equipment is specifically designed for the task, ergonomics and human motion are studied, training is tailored to ensure the job is done as efficiently and safely as possible. These experiences are eminently transferable.

So it was that GSK asked us to look at the twin high-speed toothpaste production lines that manufacture famous brands such as Sensodyne and AquaFresh. GSK’s requirement was to decrease the time taken to affect a changeover between making one product and another, whilst retaining and improving safety and quality. Using the methodology that also choreographs pitstops, MA analysed GSK’s highly skilled staff to develop processes and equipment that allowed GSK to cut their changeover time from 39 minutes to just 15. This allows the £15million production system to fill an additional 6.7million tubes of toothpaste per year – though in reality it gives GSK the flexibility to change lines twice as often without losing any production time. We’re particularly proud of the fact GSK are now taking the lessons from this application, and together we are rolling it out in plants around the world.

The partnership between McLaren and GSK is a long-term commitment, with unlimited and intriguing possibilities for future collaboration. Clinical research in particular is a long-term process, and with the cost of bringing new pharmaceutical products to market often exceeding $1 billion, McLaren’s capabilities in the field of predictive analytics and biotelemetry are seen as being particularly relevant, delivering a competitive advantage both in terms of cost savings and time to market.

Geoff McGrath speaks at WIRED Health 2015

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