When Roche Diabetes Care invited 29 of us who write about diabetes to “Social Media Summit” last week, some of us had the opportunity to visit their factory in Indianapolis that produces Aviva test strips. I toured the factory with Bryan Langford, the director of the product supply team for Roche Diagnostics Operations.
The Accu-Chek Aviva is the only meter and strip combination manufactured in America. Roche makes the Aviva meter in Huntsville, Alabama. Roche built the Indianapolis plant a couple of years before the company launched the Aviva in July 2005.
The other meter that Roche currently markets here is the Accu-Chek Compact Plus. Roche manufactures the test strips for that meter in Germany and manufactures the Accu-Chek Compact Plus meters in Ireland.
The Indianapolis plant for making Aviva test strips is huge. Brian estimated its size as 45,000 square feet. Perhaps an even better gauge of its size is its production capacity.
Brian told us that they produce 230 vials of test strips per minute or 32 to 33 million per year. “This line rated for 40 million vials per year,” he says. “On the other side of the wall we have a second line currently in validation, and we also have a sister plant in Puerto Rico.”
Close to 300 people work for Roche in the Indianapolis plant in manufacturing and packaging together. “Each of them are trained for more than four months and they all constantly monitor the quality. We do have an independent quality group here on site. I am completely guessing, but it’s probably a couple dozen employees.”
The entire manufacturing process is highly automated to eliminate as much human intervention as possible to reduce the possibility of errors. I asked Bryan if the process was 100 percent automated.
“No, nothing can be 100 percent automated,” he replied. “We do verification processing with actual human samples to get the most calibrated blood possible. So that’s not automated, but within production itself we are just as close as you can get. We don’t like automation for the sake of automation. We like it so we can build quality into the process and use technology when appropriate to improve quality.”
Still, mistakes are made. The reject rate — how much of the product that they discard because it’s bad — was higher than I would have thought. In the entire manufacturing process it is about 10 percent, Bryan told me.
An Employee Signals that All of This Batch of Vials is Good
This article is based on an earlier version of my article published by HealthCentral.