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Digital Manufacturing: The Roadmap To Next-Gen Pharma

No segment, no sector, and no industry have been able to steer clear of the impact of digitalization in today’s day and age. Digital has been disrupting and upturning industrial conventionalities completely and there’s no other way than that to adapt. 

Quite recently, the digital ripples have started swaying pharma towards an exhaustive revolution. But before we understand how and what precisely is digital doing to quake pharma manufacturing, let’s clear our basics.

What Are Smart Factories And Digital Manufacturing?

If you have been associated with the manufacturing and supply chain of any industry, you most probably have heard about Industry 4.0.

  • The infusion of digitization into the production activities ranging from product design to manufacturing in a way that upgrades and evolves the industry towards another wave of revolution gives birth to Industry 4.0. 

  • This encompasses an epic rollover from the traditionally engineered production processes to digitally programmed automated business processes.

  • Enhanced functionality, elimination of redundancy, waste management, availability of customized designs, and a multi-faceted improvement in operational capabilities are the major benefits of digitalization in the manufacturing sector.

Installation of smart and innovative factories that rely on a highly automated and networked environment integrated with the existing physical production processes aids businesses to flourish be reaping the benefits of digitization. The first phase of establishing a smart factory is to implement a digital production system which will include in its purview inventory management system, supply chain, logistics, designing, and execution. Whereas, the second phase involves integrating all the processes as a whole at the factory level. 

Simply put, digital manufacturing lies at the core of Industry 4.0; a revolution that Pharma is at the brink of witnessing.

Top 4 Digital Innovations That Are Revolutionizing The Pharma Industry

Pharma has been catching up with digital lately, however, manufacturers are still conservative in their moves and that shows. Pharma is approaching digital with a fifty-fifty safety approach, meaning that some of the innovations still lie in a safe zone while the rest are their hesitant attempts at taking risks. 

Regardless, the leap ahead is big, and the following are the four primary ways in which the approach is integrated.

  1. Cost-Cutting and Control

Cost expansion has been plaguing the pharma sector for quite some time now and the fact that the contributing factors lie at the very crux of customization makes it difficult to control. Reduced generic production of medicines, increased manufacturing based on highly specific and customized prescriptions, and thereby, shorter and more frequent production processes are the underlying causes of shooting costs. 

Digital has come to the rescue by offering data-based and machine learning optimized solutions to cut and manage costs efficiently, so much so, that digital intervention promises a potential reduction of cost by about 20% according to the latest research conducted by Bain and Co.

  1. Advanced Analytics

Pharma manufacturing integrates advanced analytics in the aforementioned safety approach manner. This can be typically applied in two aspects -- one which is a safer bet and is most likely to yield no regrets while the other involves high-risk capacity along with compensating added value and efforts. 

  • Predictive Quality

This one lies at the radical part of the risk spectrum and involves prompt actions taken towards identifying quality issues, collating reasons to recognize patterns in causes and effects of those issues, and devising a faster reaction strategy to curtail defects and enhance final product standards. 

  • Predictive Maintenance

As the name suggests, advanced data analytics in this step is employed to maintain efficiency -- in machinery, supply chain elements, and optimizing processes. The focus is to avoid losses by predicting possible faults and fallouts in time to conduct repair and preventive measures. Naturally, this one’s the safer segment of the integrated approach.

  1. Performance Planning and Management

This step involves observation, monitoring, and analysis of real-time data as well as Big data to come at performance-based conclusions that instrumentalize further planning, management, and execution. End-to-end performance administering takes place using advanced digital tools, which also provide historical information about the machinery, the collective data analysis of which can give a comprehensive overview of overall performance. 

Strategies can be then planned based on these advanced prerequisites to either repair, enhance, or discard the colluding steps, to facilitate performance management. 

  1. Changeover Support

As far fetched as it seems, products of digital transformation like Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are being used to modernize reconfiguration processes and changeover support. This proves essentially beneficial when a company aims at a makeover at grass root levels to reduce machinery downtime and product differentiation and diversification.

Industrial Use Cases Of Digital Manufacturing In Pharma

Scaling new technologies require foresight as much as a pragmatic approach. Having covered the majority scope of digital espousing manufacturing in pharma, let’s have a look at the latest technologies and use cases that companies have been turning to for growth, advancement, and gaining a progressive edge in the industry.

  • Big Data Analytics

The term is enough to confirm how expansive the scope can be in manufacturing. Data collected and analyzed on the basis of various medical and healthcare insights will manufacturers generated close to customized products and generate profits in multitudes.

  • Clean Room Monitoring

This is essentially helpful in increasing the efficiency of manufacturing in pharma as IIOT integrated sensors will detect variables and unwelcomed changes in room conditions and alert accordingly.

  • Line Clearance

As the name suggests, line clearance makes sure that a line (work area and accommodated products) is clear of any residue and speck clean for incoming processes. Shifting the process from paper to digital will take one of the most repetitive and error-driven tasks off of human hands.

  • Process Visibility

Quality is priority in pharma more than in most industries. At the manufacturing level, different stakeholders in the supply chain can be tracked along with their performance using digital applications to increase visibility, and in turn productivity.

As clearly indicative as these use cases are, we must be prepared for the unprecedented. Digital manufacturing is soon to be Pharma’s next reality and it is sure to have a world of progressive difference from the present one.

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