Locations -- Out With The Old, In With The New

Dec. 21, 2004
Aventis Pasteur Inc. bids farewell to an old Pennsylvania facility to make room for bigger and better.

Nestled in the eastern Pennsylvania Pocono Mountains is the Aventis Pasteur Inc. campus. Composed of 35 buildings on 270 acres, the Swiftwater, Pa.-based subsidiary of Aventis Pasteur SA, Lyon, France, provides a range of vaccines including treatment for influenza, tetanus, diphtheria, yellow fever and bacterial meningitis. Like its neighbors in the resort surroundings, Aventis realizes the benefits of rejuvenation. To be sure, the company in March broke ground on a $77.5 million Formulation & Filling (F&F) building -- the single largest global capital expenditure to date for the vaccine company. The facility is expected to be completed mid-2004. "It's largely to replace a facility where we currently do our sterile filling that is coming up on its 20th birthday," explains Jim Robinson, vice president, industrial operations. The new F&F facility will be fully automated and have fully enclosed systems, which will enable the company to produce extended fills up to three days on a continuous filling or to dispense the vaccines in tanks for filling at a later date. The facility also takes advantage of one of Newton's laws. "Formulation [of the vaccines] is on the second floor, and filling is on the first floor, so by gravity we are feeding a number of the new high-speed filling lines -- both vials and syringes," Robinson says. As for employees for the new facility, Aventis won't have to look very far. "We will be decommissioning our old facility and retraining those [employees] to come to this facility. In fact, with the same number of people we will get significantly more throughput in [the new] facility," Robinson says. "And where that helps us as a site is right now our bottleneck is formulation and filling." What The Doctor Ordered. The Swiftwater site was founded in 1897 by Richard Slee, a doctor who was recovering from an illness and decided to rest in the Pocono Mountains. The site was originally called Pocono Biological Laboratories and made smallpox vaccines. Eradicated in the 1970s, smallpox vaccines were no longer necessary. Ironically, more than 100 years later Aventis Pasteur started production of the smallpox vaccine to aid the U.S. government, donating 85 million doses following the anthrax mailings that had claimed several lives. The commercial value of the donation was more than $150 million. Additionally, the company transferred -- at no cost -- samples of its proprietary cell line to the National Institutes of Health and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention for use in isolating and growing the coronavirus, which is suspected of causing SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome). Tranquil Setting. The same beauty that offered rest and relaxation to a weary doctor remains the focal point at the Aventis campus. "Swiftwater Creek runs through the property, and the company tries to maintain the mountain landscape and wildlife," says Ellyn Schindler, manager, community relations. "Swiftwater is a vacation/honeymoon destination. It is a different and special environment, and Aventis is proud of its link to Pennsylvania and the Poconos." Locations profiles selected siting and facility strategies by manufacturing companies. Send submissions to Senior Editor John S. McClenahen at [email protected].

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