Covidien’s Webster Groves, Mo., Pilot Plant, the research and development center for oral solid dose research, focuses on formulation research for generic pharmaceuticals, primarily involving Covidien’s active pharmaceutical ingredients. This pilot plant adds significant capacity to the company’s product development capability by permitting Covidien to work on four products, simultaneously.

Covidien Pilot Plant

The design of the new $21.5-million pilot plant in Webster Groves, Mo., empowers Covidien’s scientists to develop up to five new drug products simultaneously. The equipment and the processing suites were built to handle potent compounds, to prevent cross-contamination and provide maximum safety for the employees and surrounding community.

Key Players

Owner: Covidien, Mansfield, Mass.
General Contractor: CRB Builders LLC, St. Louis
Design Firm: CRB Consulting Engineers Inc., St. Louis

The short duration of the project, 13 months from concept to operation, was the key driver for the project. It led Covidien to order long-lead equipment before the design was really started. It influenced Covidien’s decision to select a design/builder based on qualifications.

The purpose of a pilot plant is to be able to develop a variety of product types, both liquid and dry, in the most functional manner possible. That means each room being able to perform multiple functions, with quick cleaning and equipment changeover. There were a number of meetings early in the project devoted to equipment location and interaction. This dictated the size and height of each process suite, as the docking stack-up heights reached 16 ft, or more. The process suites’ relation to each other and the weigh/dispense and wash rooms had to be considered in order to maximize the facility’s functionality.