KINSTON, N.C.—West Pharmaceutical Services Inc. plans to upgrade its production plant significantly in Kinston and add machinery over the next year.
During that span, the company will invest about $19 million in the facility, which uses compression molding technology to produce a variety of syringe components, such as rubber needle shields, stoppers and plungers, along with IV bag injection ports, a company spokeswoman said.
“We also have Westar processing capabilities on site that will increase with the facility expansion,” she said. “The new space will accommodate the Westar RS (ready to sterilize) washing and validation process as well as the West Envision automated inspection system.”
In addition, she said, “NovaPure components, developed using a quality by design approach to help ensure the efficacy and purity of a drug product,” will be produced at the facility.
West will not build an addition to the Kinston complex, the spokeswoman noted, but rather the project will include infrastructure and new machinery installations. No change in square footage of the facility, which totals about 206,000 square feet, is planned.
A global designer and manufacturer of pharmaceutical packaging and delivery systems, the Exton, Pa.-headquartered company's upgrade at the Kinston site is aimed a continuing to deliver “high-value packaging components to our pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical customers,” Operations Director Tom Gribbin said in a prepared statement.
New jobs likely will be created at the facility. “While we haven't released a total number of new jobs, we are actively recruiting as we continue to grow our business,” the spokeswoman said.
She noted the company also is increasing the skill set of the existing work force, which totals about 350 at the plant, through a number of internal and external training programs.
West's latest improvement project is being aided in part by a performance-based grant from Lenoir County of up to $400,000. It will receive no money up front and must meet investment performance standards to qualify for the grant.
Lenoir County has had a longstanding relationship with the company. “The county has been committed to West through tough times and prosperous times,” according to Craig Hill, chairman of the county Board of Commissioners. “One of the reasons West has remained in Lenoir County is due to this 40-year relationship.”
That alliance faced its toughest hurdle on Jan. 29, 2003, when an explosion and fire destroyed the company's plant in Kinston, causing six deaths, 36 injuries and hundreds of job losses.
A fire raged at the site for two days. Half of the 150,000-sq.-ft. factory was destroyed, and damage to the plant was estimated at about $150 million.
Several investigations determined the explosion was caused by combustible dust that had accumulated on hidden surfaces above the production area.
Less that a week later, the county commission donated $600,000 to West to help the company rebuild a new facility from scratch at a different location because its old factory was damaged so severely it had to be demolished.
It decided to rebuild the plant in Kinston “in order to continue our commitment to the local area and support our employees,” the spokeswoman said.
West's current complex in Kinston is the rebuilt structure, complete with superior safety systems in place. Although the firm always has had a world class safety program, she said, “we have incorporated (what it learned) from the incident into our facility design and dust control programs at our sites around the globe.”