Keeping pharma manufacturing running from afar

Published: 21-Apr-2020

Wendy Reddington, UK General Manager, Zenith Technologies, a Cognizant Company, discusses the evolutions of remote manufacturing support

The pharma manufacturing landscape is evolving as never before. Much of this change is driven by greater connectivity and Industry 4.0. The subsequent availability of data is driving operational efficiencies and providing unique insights.

Amidst the change, certain things remain the same. Whenever manufacturing IT applications fail or are not running to their optimum capacity, a fast resolution with minimal downtime is critical.

This is particularly true for biopharmaceutical manufacturing facilities when downtime may lead to expensive or even life-threatening batch failures.

Traditionally, manufacturing system issues have been solved by an on-site engineer working in shifts attending to technical issues as they occur. On the ground, operational support is ideal … but it may not always be possible or cost-effective to have this on a 24/7 basis, particularly for smaller-scale plant.

With many facilities now operating round the clock, what happens if a GMP incident occurs in the middle of the night?

With Industry 4.0, every aspect of manufacturing has an IT element that supports manufacturing systems remotely via technical centres staffed by qualified engineers. This remote support model is gaining ground in the industry and providing a solution to the need for 24/7 assistance on some of pharma’s most critical operations.

It can be more cost-effective to resolve incidents remotely than employing someone on site for an 8-hour shift. Many issues can be resolved off-site through remote access servers and on-the-ground operators can be guided through repair processes without the need to deploy an engineer.

This approach also provides a wider knowledge base and access to a range of skills within the extended team to help solve issues rather than relying on just one or two engineers.

As the industry becomes more connected and with the increasingly round the clock nature of operations, access to technical support at any hour of the day will be vital.

Remote support is opening doors to a new approach that can mean more batches will be saved and more medicines will reach patients without difficulties.

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