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How COVID-19 is Driving Digitization in Pharma Manufacturing

The global drive to halt the Coronavirus pandemic is significantly driving digitization in pharma manufacturing. Digital technologies not long ago considered “nice to have” are now essential tools for pharmaceutical plant operations. 65% of participants in the 2020 Smart Pharma survey reported a strong belief that the pandemic is driving the adoption of digital technologies, enabling real-time data collection and analysis.

While significantly aiding in the war against COVID-19, digital communication and collaboration tools, IoT-based sensors, and data-driven predictive maintenance dramatically transform traditional pharmaceutical operations. Additional benefits of digitization in pharma manufacturing include:

How COVID-19 Is Driving Digitization in Pharma Manufacturing

With COVID-19, disruption is the name of the game across the business world in general. The pharmaceutical industry is no exception. The demand for digital solutions has exploded and has accelerated digitization in pharma manufacturing to facilitate employees working from home, digital work instructions, electronic collaboration, e-signatures, remote temperature monitoring, and other aspects of quality control. Risk assessments and supply chain predictions facilitated by intelligent data collection and advanced analytics are now available, and digital inventory and asset management apps and enhanced operator assistance via augmented reality.

The 2020 Smart Pharma Survey reports that 85% of manufacturers are interested in automating manual plant processes. Additionally, 75% believe that increased automation will lead to improved quality, efficiency, and productivity. An entire 93% state that digitization is a significant factor in new plant designs and current facility upgrades.

Chief Digital Officer Bertrand Bodson of Novartis (a multinational pharmaceutical company) believes his organization’s agile response to pandemic-related disruptions is due to recent investments in digital initiatives. As Bodson explains, “many things that we had planned to take a couple of years to get into full motion have happened in two months. Everybody, including the regulators, has come together on this, and so we have been able to change gears strongly.”

Benefits of Digitizing Pharmaceutical Operations in Zone 1 Environments

Digitizing pharmaceutical operations boosts the bottom line by reducing costs and increasing efficiency via improved equipment utilization and faster throughput times. However, pharma manufacturing facilities may be combustible due to potentially explosive materials, prohibiting standard digital devices. Only certified intrinsically safe devices are allowed in Zone 1 locations.

When front-line workers use certified IS mobile devices, they can receive secure data from intrinsically safe cloud-connected IoT sensors. Real-time metrics on environmental conditions, asset performance, and efficiency are instantaneous. Combining real-time monitoring with advanced data analytics offers anomaly detection and predictive maintenance, which ultimately reduces downtime and increases productivity.

Aegex Technologies Offers A-Z Digital Solutions

Aegex Technologies is a leading digital design and engineering firm that offers world-class solutions from A-Z. Our purpose-built aegex10TM Intrinsically Safe Tablets are internationally certified for ATEX/IECEx Zone 1 and C I, II, III D1 environments. By using familiar Windows 10 apps, customizable enterprise-class software, and intrinsically safe NexVu IoT Sensors connected via Microsoft Azure Cloud services, we’ve got the pharmaceutical digital transformation covered.

Collaboration With Digital Champions Is Key

To successfully eradicate the threat of COVID-19, digitization in pharma manufacturing is critical. McKinsey’s recent reportBiopharma 2020, highlights the essential role of pharmaceutical digitalization in reducing disruptions and improving organizational efficiency and agility. Likewise, nearly 50% of 2020 Smart Pharma survey participants believe the pharmaceutical digital transformation is achievable within five years or less. Respondents also believe collaboration between pharma manufacturers and third-party industry partners, also known as Digital Champions, is vital.

If your organization is interested in digitizing pharmaceutical operations, let Aegex Technologies be your Digital Champion. Contact us here for more information on our state-of-the-art tools and solutions for digitalization in the pharmaceutical industry.


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