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The Sanofi-Aventis manufacturing facility in Singapore, Aventis Pharma Manufacturing Pte Ltd, is one of the company’s primary manufacturing sites under the Sanofi-Aventis Group, and is responsible for the global supply of its pharmaceutical active ingredients: Nedocromil Sodium, Sodium Cromoglicate and Enoxaparin Sodium – all used in key products of Sanofi.


The Assignment – Planned Plant Shutdown

The Singapore plant has experienced exceptional growth over recent years and is strategic to the region, operating with a lean structure of 180 employees led by Matthieu Caillod, site director, and supported by a site manager in charge of the technical department.

Between 9th December, 2016 to the 2nd January, 2017, the company had a planned plant closure for mandatory maintenance work. Due to a manpower shortage within the technical department Matthieu felt it had become necessary to bring in additional support. He comments: “We were suffering from an immediate and unforeseen lack of management resource, which we considered could have an impact on the success of the shutdown.”


A decision was taken and immediate action to appoint an external transition manager to support the planned plant closure. Matthieu adds: “We needed to put ourselves in the best position to be able to cope with the task in hand, and taking on a transition manager with significant hands-on experience seemed the most sensible route to take.”

The transition manager would need to be completely immersed and involved from the outset, supporting the technical team in running the operation during the plant shutdown.

The key objectives of the transition manager would be to lead and guide the E&I Maintenance team, quickly understand the role of the mechanical engineering team and to get up-to-speed on the process for the maintenance shutdown. The transition manager appointed would need to ensure quality reports would be delivered according to the schedule, and project timelines were met.

What was also outlined was the fact that the appointed individual would not have to have a pharma or maintenance background.

Matthieu requested X-PM, a global transition management leader, specialising in the fields of executive interim and transition management provider to help find a solution. X-PM was requested to provide the Transition Site Engineering Manager (TM), whose main objectives would be to support operationally during the December shut-down and enhance leadership in the technical department.

The initial duration of the mission was for three months, supporting the shut down and then going on to assess the overall operation and efficiency of the department.

Matthieu adds: “We knew we needed someone with strong technical expertise, but that person would also need to come with the right mindset; someone who would be able to coach the team and make things happen. Not an easy thing to achieve when you come into an organisation from the outside, and with limited time to achieve the necessary outcomes.”

Within days of being briefed, X-PM identified Salem Belmeguenai.


Salem Belmeguenai

X-PM brought in Salem Belmeguenai, to support Sanofi during this period. Salem has more than 29 years’ experience working across high technology industries, specifically the semi-conductor market, in France, the UK, China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, ranging from operations, project management, quality and reliability assurance, to general management.

He has a history of successfully implementing world-class manufacturing practices to alignoperations with company objectives.

His work has seen him project-managing large programmes, rolling out standardised compliance processes, instilling lean manufacturing methodology and implementing best practices for continuous improvement such as TQM and ISO certification programmes for various industries.

A couple of weeks before the shutdown, Salem joined the team and immediately set out to oversee the entire project coordination – ensuring it was fully on track, at the same time – identifying areas for improvement.

Successful Outcomes

  • The planned plant closure was successful and ran on time
  • Developed specific metrics to identify the skill of employees to do the job, and the required training needs
  • Implemented new KPI’s to track technical department performances
  • Extended lessons learned process sharing to support future turnaround projects.

Salem Belmeguenai commented: “Working in a different industry was both interesting, but also challenging. What you don’t have to do is reinvent the wheel. Best practices developed in other industries can be transferrable. At the end of the day, it is about sharing knowledge and experience. 

“It was also good that the work wasn’t only limited to the scope of my contract, and that I could identify other areas where the plant could become leaner and more efficient.”

Matthieu adds: “Salem provided exactly the resource that was needed to ensure a successful transition, and he delivered more than we had expected. He also helped to put in place a better structure for the future of the engineering/technical facility, creating real performance improvements.

“It was also very positive that the plant was able to begin trading on time after the shut down. And today the plant continues to run well; Salem’s work was a real catalyst for making this happen.”