This morning, it was time to suit up (quite literally) and get moving, as we had the opportunity to tour the facilities of a pharmaceutical company, Andromaco, where we were able to learn about their production process and the industry. Upon arrival, we had to put on gear for sanitization as they explained an overview of the company. We first went to the area where they stored raw materials, then a production line. After that, we saw were products were stored and the machines that they are packed with. Our guide was super knowledgeable and helpful which allowed us to ask hard questions and receive some really interesting answers.
One of the first things he mentioned is that the success of their plant is solely based on water. It sounds kind of silly but all of the products they produce are based on purified water. Because of this, they have a very elaborate purification system throughout the facility. If this system fails to operate at full capacity, they have to shut down the entire factory for almost a week to clean everything and purify enough new water. This can have a huge effect on their bottom line in terms of input costs.
When in the area full of raw materials, he explained that it is very expensive for the company to import raw materials. They cut costs by buying bulk and buying as locally as they can for materials that they are not able to get from within Argentina. However, buying locally is not always an option and they sometimes have to buy from the US and Europe which entails high shipping costs, tariffs, and inspection costs. This is an issue that affects the entire pharmaceutical industry, as Argentina just does not have the resources or capabilities to produce all of the raw materials that they need. To combat this challenge, in the past fifteen years a trend has been emerging where companies have agreements to order raw materials together as a singular purchase to significantly reduce all of these added expenses, something that Andromaco hopes to implement in the coming years.
Lastly, a challenge faced by Andromaco and all other companies in the industry is human error and processes. If an employee makes one mistake, an entire batch can be compromised. Additionally, it takes a lot of time to change the machines between batches for different products. The company is making efforts to cut down these changing times by implementing organizational improvements and more productive workplace configurations. In the past few years they have cut switching times in half because of this, but there is still more room for improvement. This is critical because for every minute they take switching the machines instead of producing products, the company is missing an opportunity for income.
After the factory, we went to a delicious restaurant where I was served the biggest steak of my life and discovered my new favorite flavor of ice cream, crema. With full stomachs, we hit the shops and explored the cobblestone streets of San Telmo. Finally, we capped off the day with a visit to ESMA to learn about Argentina’s past and to see the wonderful efforts that citizens are taking currently to protect and promote human rights.