‘Sorry, but what is an engineer doing in supply chain..?’

Posted in: Department of Chemical Engineering, Engineering placements, Undergraduate

Author: Matthew Berry -

During the last 10 weeks at Patheon UK in Swindon, the above is probably the question I’ve been asked the most and equally struggled to answer, so hopefully as this blog progresses I’ll be able to answer, starting here.

I’m Matt, a chemical engineer, now 2½ months into my Placement in the Supply Chain Department at Patheon, and I can honestly say it’s flying by already! My role so far has involved a wide variety of things, predominantly based in Project Purchasing.

Who is Patheon?

Patheon isn’t a name that comes straight to mind when someone says Pharmaceuticals. It is, however, a global company that specialises in manufacturing and developing products for customers - a pharmaceutical contract manufacturer. This means Patheon isn’t the product owner, and without its name on products, its name isn’t ‘on the shelf’ as such. With 26 sites, 400 clients and 800 products developed & manufactured globally I’m looking forward to getting a deeper understanding of it as the year progresses.

What is supply chain?

While production is the area which directly generates revenue, engineering keep everything working, and quality control/assurance check everything is up to standard; they all rely on the supply chain department for many reasons. Supply chain is fundamentally made up of Planning, Procurement (Purchasing), Shipping and Warehouse management, which work with all the other departments to ensure everything runs smoothly, with two major KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) – OTD, On Time Delivery, and RFT, Right First Time to monitor performance.

Supply chain also has a number of other roles in tracking and reducing spending, building and managing supplier relationships and various other bits and pieces.

Settling in on placement

It turns out Swindon isn’t as bad as its reputation states. I’m living in the Old Town area with a few people also on placement here. Settling in at work has been no problem at all; everyone at Patheon has been approachable and friendly and happy to offer help at a moment’s notice. Looking forward to the next 42 weeks!!

Posted in: Department of Chemical Engineering, Engineering placements, Undergraduate


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