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4/2/2014
12:00 AM
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Merck Optimizes Manufacturing With Big Data Analytics

Pharmaceutical firm uses Hadoop to crunch huge amounts of data so it can develop vaccines faster. One of eight profiles of InformationWeek Elite 100 Business Innovation Award winners.

Llado (left) and Megaro used cloud-based Hadoop computing to speed up the analysis  of vaccine yield rates.
Llado (left) and Megaro used cloud-based Hadoop computing to speed up the analysis of vaccine yield rates.

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D. Henschen
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D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
4/4/2014 | 10:09:47 AM
Re: Deep industry knowledge required
I learned a couple of new tidbits from George and Jerry at the InformationWeek Conference that were not discussed in my earlier interviews. First, they discovered that plant equipment maintenace was one factor that had a big impact on vaccine yeilds. Apparently the bid data analysis revealed that yields declined significanlty after new power supplies were installed on some plant equipment. Turns out the new power supplies didn't meet the same specs as the equipment replaced, so this is something they were able to fix.

The second tidbit I heard is that Merck is now working on using high-scale demand data to analyze product demand. That's not something drug companies really have a handle on for the most part, but working with distributors they're hoping to sense demand signals so they can do a better job of planning production to meet market need.
ChrisMurphy
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ChrisMurphy,
User Rank: Author
4/3/2014 | 5:02:01 PM
Deep industry knowledge required
I spent time talking with some of the Merck team at the InformationWeek Conference this week, and one thing that struck me is how for this kind of work it is essential to have deep industry knowledge combined with big data statistical knowledge. I'm talking about the big data analysis team really understanding the complex fermentation processes involved in making vaccines.
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