Associate Spotlight

Jim Clifford

Jim Clifford

PCA Director of MRO Service

After working for 35 years in MRO (maintenance, repair and operations) management for a leading pharmaceutical company, Jim Clifford learned that his firm had been acquired by another large Pharma company. In 2011, ready for a change, Clifford enthusiastically accepted the referral from his employer to PCA. Nearly a decade later, Clifford travels around the country, visiting with PCA clients and helping them gain maximum value from PCA’s best-practices advice and program development.

Along the way, he logged an especially impressive achievement using his extensive Pharma background — he developed PCA’s Life Sciences Best Practices MRO Model. “Our typical MRO model has 11 segments, but Life Sciences are more invoved, so our MRO model has 14. I think we are unique in that way – we have the best Life Sciences Best Practices Playbook in the industry.”

Jim’s position offers him a lot of opportunites to help organizations fine-tune their MRO services using PCA’s Best Practices Playbooks, but a few engagements stand out in his memory as being really exceptional. His first one, and one of his most memorable, enabled him to leverage his knowledge of the Pharma industry.

“A Pharma company in the Northeast U.S. was under a consent degree – the FDA was reviewing everything, and the FDA told them their storeroom and MRO practices were a total mess,” says Clifford. “We helped them relocate the storeroom, build a GMP-compliant* set of standard operating procedures and guidelines, document and verify all the improvements they made, and provide closure reports.” Per Clifford, the FDA reviewed all the work that PCA helped them accomplish and accepted it as satisfactory — the first time out.

Even though Pharma is his “home base,” Clifford says, he loves the variety of his position, which enables him to help companies in many different industries. “Whether it’s a power station, a paper mill or a Pharma company, I like being able to help solve problems,” Clifford notes. “Many of these are about a lack of space. The client says, ‘I need a bigger storeroom,’ but often, it’s the company’s processes, not its materials, that are causing the firm to run out of space. Purchasing is overbuying, or returns are going back to the storeroom but not to the vendor. Sometimes, people buy new items but never get rid of old ones. People can actually become attached to parts.”

“Once we identify and correct those practices we have a chance at stabilizing the storeroom,” Clifford continues. “Then, we determine whether we can maximize the existing space or we need to redesign a new space that will give them plenty of room to grow.”

When asked to cite another example of a “most memorable engagement,” Clifford offers a really ingenious example. “It was a soda ash mining company in the western U.S. — they adopted our MRO model and it literally changed the way they ran their storeroom from that point on,” he says. The “inventive” part was the solution that PCA and Clifford came up with for tools and parts that were frequently used by the mechanics, to reduce the fulfillment burden being placed upon their existing MRO storeroom manager.

“We help them deploy 23 self-service machines — like typical candy machines but with MRO items in them — that are available to the maintenance mechanics 24/7. Each machine can be set up differently; one for batteries and one for gloves, for example. Access is through a key pad that can also have different authorization mechanisms — some items might be available with just the mechanic’s badge number, but those that need to be tracked back to the specific equipment might require a work order number.”

The project was so successful, Clifford says, that the Storeroom Supervisor was able to completely divorce herself from the high volume/low cost consumables items. She now does other work for the firm and needs to approve only one purchase order per month. The project also freed up the supervisors, buyers and store attendants’ time managing these products.

“On a current project for a power company, Clifford concludes, “Management was going to build a new warehouse for $3.5 million. We reonfigured their existing warehouse with existing media and saved them $2.75 million. If we are able to change some of their MRO practices, as well, they should be able to stay in their current footprint for the foreseeable future. That’s a success story if ever there was one.”

*GMP: Good Manufacturing Practice; a system for ensuring that products are consistently produced and controlled according to quality standards.