Expansion of Roche Shanghai site reflects importance of China in pharmaceutical business

China’s economic rise is not a hidden secret. As the world’s second-largest economy it has taken giant steps in all areas of activity from manufacturing to research, and its impact is felt the world over. For Roche, China has also been one of the fastest-growing areas of business. This has been reflected in the growth of the Shanghai site for the Pharma business over the years. This is reflected in the fact that today, over 1800 colleagues work at the ever-expanding site. The company employs over 5000 people all over the country.

The new center will add toward making Shanghai an important hub for the Roche group.
Christiane Glanzmann

“Roche has been at the same site for 20 years now. But today, it occupies over 70,000 square meters and is home to 19 buildings of different scale. Two of these are currently under construction and another two are already being planned. This is necessary because of the focus on China as a major world player in the pharmaceutical business and the resultant growth of the Shanghai site,” points out Hans Tanner, Head of project management China. While this has necessitated massive investments, it has also meant that several initiatives had to be taken to keep the site sustainable and employee-friendly.

It may be recalled that it was only in the late 1990s that Roche built a new factory in Shanghai. The factory became operational in 1997. Rocephin and Madopar are formulated at the Roche Shanghai site. Biotech products such as Pegasys and MabThera are also packed in the Shanghai plant. In addition, a high-potent solids manufacturing factory was put into operation in early 2006 for the local manufacturing.

Shanghai is the headquarter site in China for the Pharma business, and there are over 30 branch offices spread all across the country. The site has seen massive growth under the Shanghai Site Masterplan that has so far cost 1.8 billion RMB (nearly 300 million Swiss francs). Two other projects, called SHiP II and ICUP 35, have been launched more recently. SHiP II was launched in August 2012 and is expected to be completed by September 2015.

“After a thorough analysis and feasibility study conducted during the Shanghai Site Master Planning Initiative in Q2 2012, it was clear that we needed to build an additional production facility with high potential for our Pharma business. All this comes under SHiP II, and the project has to be completed by Q3 2015. ICUP 35 will establish site-wide utilities and address the site’s current and projected future utility needs. It will incorporate relevant aspects of energy-efficient design and optimize space usage. In addition, it includes an expanded 35 kilovolts (kV) electrical service to the site,” explains Hans.

The utilities project will include elements such as wastewater treatment plant expansion, relocation of the potable water filtration plant, steam generation plant expansion, security system monitoring and telephony and data trunk cable routing.

Training is critical

Having thousands of employees in the country also necessitates ongoing training programs for colleagues out in sales functions but also at the Shanghai site. A new training center has been completed that can accommodate 300 people at any one time. Previously, training programs were held at different off-site locations necessitating additional travel and costs. “Training is a vital necessity for business expansion in China. The new center will enable local, regional and global trainings and further add toward making the Shanghai site an important hub for the Roche Group,” states Christiane Glanzmann, former Project Manager of ROSE II, who has only just transferred to San Francisco.

The training facility forms part of a bigger building called B11 that also houses 350 offices between the second and fifth floors for the Product Development in Asia Pacific (PDY) and Strategic Planning and Commercial Excellence (SPACE) teams. “PDY used to previously be located in a rented property. Moving to the China HQ campus serves to reinforce the site’s transformation into a third strategic site for Roche after Basel and South San Francisco,” reiterates Christiane. This building was winaugurated in September this year.

Training is a vital necessity for business expansion in China.
Christiane Glanzmann

Going without lifts

Such massive expansion plans mean that several projects and activities need to be ongoing to keep it eco-friendly and sustainable and also to give employees a sense of involvement in this effort. These span from efforts in lifestyle modification, IT, canteens and cafés around the campus to ongoing energy assessments.

For instance in September, three buildings on site participated in a campaign called “No Elevator Days” that ran for a period of 21 days. “The idea was to improve awareness on energy saving and also to cultivate a healthy habit of walking up stairs. Employees were encouraged to take the stairs instead of lifts during the whole working day. This was not compulsory, but still got responses from a great number of employees,” says Sunny Zhu, Senior Administration Officer in the Administration and General Affairs Department (ADGS).

The department is planning to run a campaign to educate employees on limiting food wastage at the canteen. Serious efforts are also on to promote segregation of waste, and a total of 30 classification bins have been installed in the pantries around the site by the efforts of SHE (Safety, Health and Environmental Protection) and ADGS.

Coffee mugs are in

The ADGS also launched a serious effort to cut down on the use of paper cups, a huge number of which were being used for consumption of coffee on this big site. Since May this year, the department has been promoting the use of mugs that are provided at the cafés and are recollected at the different pantries. Coffee in paper cups would be 2 RMB more per cup.

The per capita energy consumption of Roche Pharma China has been decreasing year by year and is estimated to fall by 15 percent in 2014 compared to 2009 figures. In order to achieve the Roche global SHE energy-saving goal, several steps have been taken at this ever-growing site. Effective September 2014, six buildings have been involved in new office area temperature adjustments that will help reduce electricity consumption by 45 percent compared to the older adjustment model.

Other steps involve the installation of lights with auto-induction, a geothermal heat pump system, fluorescent lamps being replaced by LEDs and the use of more efficient air conditioner motors in some of the buildings on the site.

Moving forward

As these varied steps help to keep the site sustainable and eco-friendly while also inculcating some healthier habits in employees, the Site Masterplan Project team continues to work on the expansion projects. Two new buildings are being planned once ongoing construction works are completed next year.

The Roche Innovative Campus Shanghai (RICS), which was approved by Corporate Executive Committee in September 2014, will be a brand-new pRED building to serve as the third Roche R&D center following Basel and South San Francisco. QC LABEX, the extension of the existing QC LAB, will provide space for the growing number of lab specialists and satisfy the needs of the growing local production.

This, with the announcement of investments to the tune of 450 million Swiss francs in a new diagnostic manufacturing facility in Suzhou, highlights the growing importance of China for the global economy as well as the healthcare industry.

Tags: Sustainability, China