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Media and Buffer Preparation Services Accelerate Scientific Research


One of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies wanted to accelerate the process of drug discovery by rededicating their scientists’ time to core research and development responsibilities. At three of the company’s R&D sites, a VWRCATALYST Business Process Consultant (BPC) collected and analyzed the researchers’ daily processes by applying Lean Six Sigma methodology. The BPC determined that 191 scientists at the three sites spent an average of 217 hours per month preparing media and buffer solutions needed for experiments — each of which had an average volume of 30 liters of solution requiring over two hours to prepare.

Additionally, the assessment concluded that:

  • Annually, 2,604 scientific hours were spent making media and buffer solutions
  • Composition of prepared solutions varied, despite media and buffer solutions being recipe-driven
  • Rework was common due to endotoxins and other errors
  • Experiment results were at times inconsistent
  • Media and buffer solutions were created in reaction to need, instead of proactively

How could this pharmaceutical company reduce scientists’ prep time, inconsistency in solutions, and overall inefficiency in one-time processes?


To maximize the time dedicated to accelerating scientific discovery, the BPC recommended outsourcing the preparation of media and buffer solutions, with the aim to return value-added time to the scientists, increase solution quality and consistency, and increase the number of successful experiments. The recommendation made one employee responsible for coordinating all solutions preparation tasks and allowed the company to simplify and standardize all processes to reduce waste, cut costs, and recapture time for scientists to focus on research. The solution also included a metrics package to help managers drive inventory reduction.


The company agreed with the recommendation, and decided to outsource the preparation tasks to the VWRCATALYST Site Services team.

VWRCATALYST utilized trained associates to follow all required standard operating procedures (SOPs) and assist the scientists with their daily media and buffer needs. A simple detail-driven process was created to request media and buffer solutions, and by using this process and VWRCATALYST metrics, our Site Services team was able to forecast needed solutions, prepare larger lots, and increase overall solution quality. The service returned an average of 217 hours per month to the company’s scientific discovery operations at the three assessed sites. The scientists saw less inconsistency in their experimental results, thereby requiring less rework.

Given the success of the VWRCATALYST Media and Buffer Preparation Service, the company expanded the service to additional research and discovery sites and is currently collecting assessment data for the service in Quality Assurance laboratories.

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Success Story


Scientists were wasting hundreds of hours preparing media and buffer solutions, and inconsistent quality was negatively affecting the accuracy of their experiments.


VWRCATALYST recommended outsourcing media and buffer solutions preparation to increase scientific productivity and support consistent experimental results.


Our team recovered 2,604 hours per year for scientific productivity and improved the quality of solutions.

Need Help?

Are your scientific resources being wasted on non-research activities? VWRCATALYST has the skills, knowledge, and experience to support research productivity improvement at your organization. For more information, visit or contact us at

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