Smart manufacturing drives operational excellence in the Life Sciences

This audio was created using Microsoft Azure Speech Services


Craig has 35 years’ experience in sales, marketing, product development, and project management in the industrial market, gained with major suppliers of PLCs, process control systems, power transmission equipment, and field devices. Craig’s focus areas include production management, OEE, HMI software, automation platforms, and embedded systems.

There are a number of market trends shaping the life sciences industry. Global population and life expectancies are increasing. Globalization of markets, especially the growing pool of middle class consumers in emerging economies, provides an increasing revenue base for large life sciences companies, but also creates the challenge of dealing with multiple global regulatory standards. At the same time, pressures to lower costs have never been greater, with growing competition from generic drug manufacturers, patent cliffs and pressures from bulk buyers.

Challenges in Life Sciences

Globalization continues to affect the life sciences industry. While demand for medications is rising in emerging economies, cost pressures from new competitors and healthcare payers in traditional markets are dampening economic prospects of life sciences companies. However with new, innovative R&D and production processes an increase of new life sciences products can be expected in the future.

Manufacturers of branded products are operating under tighter margins due to competition from generics, pressure to reduce costs, and higher regulatory burdens.  While this is a business challenge, it will also drive capex in automation technology as companies invest in technologies to improve efficiencies, reduce time-to-market, ensure quality, and reduce costs.

The Life Sciences industry’s primary manufacturing concerns include improving productivity and reducing costs, the ability to document and secure everything from raw materials to process changes and software version control, and serialization and track and trace capabilities to meet local regulations while ensuring the highest levels of security. The ability to move from batch processes to continuous processes, particularly for bulk pharmaceuticals, is critical with the use of disposable and modular production increasing. As with all industries in a connected world, cyber security continues to be a significant issue and an area that requires further investments.

Smart manufacturing in Life Sciences

Smart Manufacturing means real-time performance management solutions that improve efficiency and asset utilization while maintaining product quality. It also includes digitalizing quality and production process while providing end-to-end traceability to ensure product integrity. In addition, it means providing energy management that improves energy efficiency for cost effectiveness, sustainability and safety. Finally, it means implementing an automation integration layer that reduces time-to-value and risk through standardizing automation and recipe management across the manufacturing network.

Another benefit of smart manufacturing that is driving today’s digital transformation is the ability to deliver workflow software solutions. One example might be to enable a model-driven MES to enforce production rules and manufacturing procedures, enhance knowledge management, and drive collaboration across the workforce. For life sciences, workflow software functionality adds closed-loop work process management, along with escalation and system-of-record capture of processes, procedures and activities.

Benefits of smart manufacturing

Line performance can be improved in three ways:

  • Increase equipment uptime
  • Increase line throughput
  • Increase product quality

As with all other manufacturing, repeatable quality across efficient batch execution is highly desired in Life Sciences manufacturing. Recipe and batch management solutions work as an “intelligent agent”, allocating equipment, downloading parameters and automating recipe procedures in the most efficient operations possible. The solution abstracts recipes from underlying control systems, which helps to standardize new product introduction processes and procedures enterprise-wide.

In conclusion, globalization of markets, increasing price and margin pressures, multiple global regulatory compliance challenges, cost pressure and growing competition from generic drug manufacturers are now driving innovation and investment in life sciences manufacturing technologies. Life sciences companies seek solutions to improve product quality and reduce costs. Smart manufacturing enables the implementation of information-enabled operations that offer virtually infinite potential to improve business performance. Operators can use data that has long been stranded inside machines and processes to identify production inefficiencies, compare product quality against manufacturing conditions, and pin-point potential safety, production, or environmental issues. Remote access connectivity and mobile technologies can immediately connect operators with off-site experts to avoid or more quickly troubleshoot and resolve downtime events.

To learn more about how Smart Manufacturing is transforming the life sciences industry, read the article How Digital Batch Management Improves Efficiency and Consistency and explore Schneider Electric’s Life Sciences page.

Tags: , , , , , ,