The firm said that an estimated 70% of pharmaceutical construction projects exceed their original budget and miss their planned schedule target. On average costs run over budget by 15%, with delays of four months on a typical three-year project, it added.
As a result, Turner & Townsend is seeking the sharing of industry benchmarking data to improve project planning.
Investing in early stage planning and robust industry benchmarks are critical to speeding up the development of manufacturing space in the sector, according to analysis by the firm.
The professional services business analysed a selection of large (>US$100m) pharmaceutical construction projects completed across the USA, Europe and the Asia Pacific region.
The research found this is typically driven by overspending and delays during the commissioning, qualification and validation phase (CQV) at the end of a project, plus a failure to anticipate accurately the time and resources needed to complete utility and mechanical, engineering and plumbing (MEP) work.
Turner & Townsend said that pharmaceutical clients are under pressure to get facilities into operation sooner, and manufacture medicines and vaccines faster and more cheaply than ever before. It has identified several steps that can drive greater efficiencies and savings on capital projects.
Central to this is better early planning and collaboration, it said. Rather than rushing through the early planning stages and paying the price down the line, the project must bring interdisciplinary teams together and align on cost and schedule from day one.
The business is also calling for the industry to come together and share benchmarking data across construction projects. Not only would this help to improve the way projects are estimated and planned, but it allows the key risks to cost and schedule overruns to be identified and avoided, it said.
Jason D’Orlando, vice president of Turner & Townsend Taurus, said: “In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the pharmaceutical industry is under the spotlight – and global pressure – like never before. With the overriding need to improve the speed to market of life-saving medicines, now is the time to see real industry change in the development of new manufacturing space to live up to the dynamism of the pharmaceutical industry.
“By planning more thoroughly at the earliest stages of capital projects, and applying robust industry benchmarks, pharmaceutical companies can better avoid damaging cost and schedule overruns at a time when these simply cannot be afforded. The industry needs to come together to improve visibility and predictability on cost and risks if we are to deliver more manufacturing capability for the global pharmaceutical sector at pace.”