On the drive south from Chicago, towering skyscrapers quickly give way to the flat expanse of the Great Plains. The region enjoys a heritage of farming and agriculture that has earned it the nickname, “America’s Breadbasket.” But the small town of Kankakee, Illinois, has long enjoyed a reputation for producing medicines that help save lives around the world as the home of CSL Behring’s leading-edge manufacturing site, which soars above the prairie landscape.
The facility is a beehive of activity in the region as its 1,600 workers are constantly coming and going to meet the demand of a 24/7 production schedule. The site only promises to get busier as CSL Behring recently announced a 1.8 million-square-foot expansion of the facility.
The site’s dual-role as a producer of lifesaving medicines and part of the lifeblood of the community has been noted by Economic Alliance of Kankakee County President and CEO Tim Nugent, who told the local Kankakee Daily Journal that the CSL Behring site is “our Amazon.”
Vita recently went inside the facility to get a first-hand look at operations that range from research and development to medicine manufacturing to quality control.
The making of medicine starts with research and development. Here are two CSL Behring scientists at work in Kankakee’s R&D department. In the background is the site’s newly-opened 7-story Building 33. Visible from miles around the area, workers have given it a fitting nickname: Everest.
Here scientists ready a lab filter press used in a research and development non-GMP pilot plant area. Filter presses separate liquids from solids. In the biotechnology industry, these presses are used to extract proteins from plasma, which can then be used in the production of medicine.
Maintaining sterility is a top priority as two workers prepare to fill vials. These employees are in a room where no skin can be exposed in order to ensure medicine stays safe.
The process isn’t finished when the medicine is made. This worker is taking a close look to ensure CSL Behring’s product is up to the highest standards of quality and no imperfections exist.
Just like many manufacturing operations in other facilities, the final step in the process is sending the product on its way. Some of the products made in Kankakee are sent to other CSL Behring facilities for further processing. Others are ready to be used to help treat people with rare and serious conditions around the world.