September 15, 2011 / 9:01 AM / 8 years ago

Drugmaker GSK inspired by McLaren F1 mission control

LONDON, Sept 15 (Reuters) - Can fast cars help you sell more drugs? Executives at GlaxoSmithKline think so.

The British drugmaker is teaming up with the Formula One motor racing engineers McLaren in the hope it can pick up new tips on innovative business operations and high-tech research.

The partnership, which will run initially until 2016, means the Formula One experts McLaren will share its capabilities in engineering, technology, analytics and strategy modelling to help boost GSK’s global business performance, the firms said in a joint statement.

The partnership will initially focus on GSK’s manufacturing, research and development (R&D) and consumer healthcare departments.

GSK’s consumer healthcare business, which markets brands such as Lucozade, Panadol and Sensodyne, will work with McLaren’s Formula 1 “Mission Control” — the unit which analyses the team’s performance and directs decision making to drivers during a Grand Prix — to construct something similar at GSK’s London Headquarters.

The drugmaker said this should enable faster responses to competitor activity and customer needs and improve decision making on inventory management, pricing, and retailer stocking.

GSK’s chief executive Andrew Witty said both GSK and McLaren were companies whose continued success “hinges on the ability to innovate and rapidly respond to change and competitor activity”.

McLaren is the second most successful team in Formula One after Ferrari in terms of race wins and drivers’ titles.

“McLaren has an unparalleled reputation for innovation built on rigorous analytics and fast decision making,” Witty said, adding that the partnership shows how GSK is keen to look outside its own sector for “inspiration and fresh perspectives”.

The two firms plan to open a learning facility in Woking called the “McLaren GSK Centre for Applied Performance” where staff from both firms and other business partners will get together to share ideas and collaborate on joint projects.

One project is looking at GSK’s manufacturing business, which supplies medicines and products to customers across the world from more than 2,000 production lines in 80 factories.

The drugmaker said it wants to learn from the way McLaren organises its teams during a racing season, when each Formula 1 team can only use a maximum of eight engines across 20 races.

“McLaren has... developed a unique system of modelling every working component within the car to provide intelligence that can predict potential fatigue and failure. It is believed that the application of McLaren’s approach, technology and processes could lead to improvements in GSK’s production line performance, reducing the number of breakdowns and improving cost and customer service,” the drugmaker said. (Editing by Mike Nesbit)

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