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An accelerated shift towards adopting Manufacturing 4.0 as standard to support world health

Posted on January 19, 2021 by

Joe Haugh, CEO, Zenith Technologies, a Cognizant Company

2021 Life Sciences Outlook & the Drivers for Manufacturing 4.0

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Life Sciences industry has proven to be incredibly resilient and agile. Many companies have ramped up activity in preparation for potential treatments or vaccines and have achieved this increased demand in an ever-changing environment. This heightened level of activity is expected to continue throughout 2021 to meet world health requirements. As a result, the biopharmaceutical industry is expected to continue to grow. This need for growth brings with it a variety of challenges for the industry to overcome.

Last year the Life Sciences industry stepped up and took centre stage as they battled a challenging environment – managing supply chain issues, new product development and manufacturing capacity issues like never before. At Zenith Technologies, we’ve witnessed the important role that technology has played and continues to play in meeting market pressures, whilst ensuring plants continue to operate with a consistent level of output.

Operational change and an accelerated shift to building a digital landscape

Last year we witnessed systems support activity, which has historically occurred only within factory walls, transition offsite and into people’s homes. This has driven a shift towards the ‘remote support model,’ enabled by a modern Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT) core secure infrastructure at all manufacturing levels.

Additionally, this environment has accelerated the shift towards digital operations across multinational organisations and increased the scrutiny on any remaining paper processes.

Of course, the pharmaceutical industry still faces significant challenges in making treatments and vaccines more accessible and affordable to the people that need it most. There are several factors that play a critical role in this, such as decreasing the time transitioning from R&D to commercial manufacturing, reducing the cost of manufacturing, optimising global supply chains, and increasing the speed of final product batch release.

The driving forces behind Manufacturing 4.0 investment

Life Sciences Manufacturing 4.0 continues to grow in significance and companies are re-imagining what benefits can come with the widespread proliferation of Internet of Things (IoT) devices and technologies. These 4.0 initiatives are enabling these moves through integrated manufacturing systems, supply chain visibility, real time and near real time data flow – all with the aim to have the best quality information available to support decision making at every step in the supply chain.

There continues to be a focus on reducing labour-intensive exercises such as paper-based batch reviews and streamlining these activities through the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robotics, supported by dependable insights gained from big data and analytics.

The industry has also made a significant pivot to more agile working and streamlining the historical waterfall project management approaches as they are applied to new initiatives and projects. The industry has been embracing these methodologies much more than before and leveraging these new ways of working.

Life Sciences companies are experiencing that Manufacturing 4.0 is key to unlocking the industry’s evolving challenges and the role technology plays in achieving business transformational success.

Building resiliency into your Manufacturing 4.0 Strategy

Cyber security and the convergence of IT and OT networks and systems has led to the acceleration in the need for secure operational technology networks. Many companies now have asset discovery programs and network segmentation projects rolling out across their organisations as a major first step in securing their OT networks. We see asset discovery and network segmentation continuing into 2021, with those companies furthest into their journey adding threat analysis and vulnerability management to their OT network layer and integrating this information to their central security operations centre.

Another area of increasing focus is the ability and applicability of patch management and antivirus in OT networks with detailed reviews of incident response, disaster recovery policies and procedures. These initiatives are being achieved while promoting a ‘cyber security culture’ with training of people and partners so they can better understand the ongoing threats.

Disruptive technologies & collaborative approaches driving business transformation

Manufacturing 4.0As we move through 2021, disruptive technologies such as cell and gene therapy, will challenge the status quo and drive the industry towards rapidly deployed facilities, with smaller scale, modular and portable plants becoming increasingly utilised. This will aid the speed to market, further diversify the manufacturing footprint globally and increase the desire for real time supply chain management and planning.

Increased collaborations between pharma companies and CMOs and CDMOs will become the norm for future capacity planning. As effective COVID-19 treatments and vaccines are administered for widespread deployment, we expect to see many cross-company collaborations to accelerate the production of the enormous number of doses required globally. A number of fast-track facilities may well be required across the globe to accommodate these needs.

For more information on our Life Sciences Manufacturing 4.0 and Smart Factory Solutions click here.

A snippet of this article was published in Pharma Manufacturing online click here. 


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