Strypes is active within one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. The group is responsible for the production of numerous medicines for humans and animals, to which the various Dutch branches make an important contribution. Strypes consultant Coen Kuijken has been active as a senior software engineering specialist since 2017, in which he plays an important role as bridge builder between the company and its various suppliers.

Using experiences in the world of PLCs, MES and SCADA


Using his experience in the world of PLCs, MES and SCADA, Coen is responsible for the correct functioning of the process automation in the company’s factories. “There are several aspects to my work,” he says. “If the customer decides to start a new project, a thorough set of requirements must first be drawn up. These so-called user requirement specifications are often complete books due to the amount of legislation and standards that the products have to comply with. I test these requirements and then determine by means of a vendor assessment which suppliers are suitable to carry out the assignment. Once the supplier has been chosen, I regularly check whether they comply with the agreements and whether the functional design they make meets the functional requirements. This is often not immediately the case, which creates risks. It is my job to assess these in terms of the likelihood of occurrence and associated costs”.

It is an important position, which sometimes requires Coen to travel. “Some of our suppliers are abroad, often because the products the customer needs (i.e. vessels) are not standard products. Recently, for example, I travelled regularly to Switzerland to check that the supplier is working properly and to remove any obstacles. I regularly come across cultural differences, but it is up to me to be assertive. Clear specification of the requirements is the most important aspect here.

He is also an important link between technology and functionality during later stages of the project. “It often happens that customer demand changes during the project; for example, when additional functions of a system are requested that were not originally required. I am then responsible for ensuring that this changed customer demand is properly communicated to the supplier. This also continues during Factory Acceptance Testing: if the delivered system does not meet the correct requirements or functionality during acceptance, I am the first person to be addressed.

After having worked in the world of infrastructure for years, one would expect that a switch to the pharmaceutical world would require some getting used to, but Coen said that this did not bother him very much. “Essentially, the same philosophies are observed in both domains. Also, in the pharma world the V-model is used, similar to the methods of Systems Engineering. What is interesting, however, is that for the first time I am now sitting on the ‘other side of the table’, i.e. on the customer side rather than on the supplier side, as I was accustomed to in the Infra. Perhaps that is even more of a challenge for me than before, because it forces you to look at requirements and documents in a completely different way. The pressure is perhaps a little less than on the supplying side, but in the end you are still responsible for finding a sound solution and you therefore have to be proactive on a regular basis”. In any case, it gives him the confidence of the customer. “In terms of knowledge of standards and legislation, I was perhaps a bit behind the more experienced colleagues at the start of the assignment, but partly due to my background in other areas, I can regularly come up with fresh ideas and new insights. That is absolutely appreciated.”

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