Since 2020, market disruption created by COVID-19 has primed every aspect of the pharma industry for change: something that they have been reluctant to do in previous decades
Today, with more crises potentially awaiting around the corner, there is an openness across the pharmaceutical world to embrace new technologies with a sense of urgency, reports Chuck Miller (pictured), Director of Solution Consulting at AspenTech.
Here are five important ways that technology and automation can help pharma companies to mitigate increased complexity and seize opportunities in the year ahead.
Enhancing crisis readiness through digital workflows
In times of accelerated process design, pharma companies must move away from manual pen-on-paper workflows that risk clerical errors and data integrity violations. Digital batch execution management, electronic lab notebooks and factory dashboards can greatly alleviate these error-prone processes.
Digital workflows also facilitate collaboration along the product lifecycle, enabling data-driven decision making and improving inspection readiness.
Using modelling and simulation for research and development
One common characteristic of a crisis environment is the need to develop and scale-up new processes in a timely manner with limited material resources. This is when mechanistic modelling of key process operations can play a pivotal role.
This approach leverages subject matter expertise in engineering, biology and chemistry to streamline development and scale-up process and product design, without compromising quality.
Making raw data more useful
What good is taking operations digital if the existing data streams offer limited value? Today’s operating units generate a richness of process data, but this information is not always deemed to be sufficient for critical monitoring, control and release workflows, especially in the case of legacy operating lines.
The effectiveness and reliability of Process Analytical Technology (PAT) has improved greatly in the past several years.
Taking advantage of this to enrich operations data streams enables faster commercialisation, more cost-efficient production and reduced supply lead times.
Staying one step ahead of unplanned downtime and disruption
During an emergency, there is a tendency to lean heavily on the physical assets that support all development, manufacturing and distribution operations and, in many cases, legacy assets will need to be repurposed.
This means that asset management and maintenance is crucial to ensure operational readiness and agility. Asset Performance Management (APM) solutions combined with machine learning models support predictive and prescriptive maintenance of this equipment, helping to mitigate unplanned equipment shutdowns and potential supply disruptions.
Ensuring on-time delivery of life-saving medicine
Those working in supply chain management (SCM) and scheduling in pharma have long appreciated the challenges of reliably producing and distributing medicines on a global scale and the complexity and fragility of many of the supply chains.
Using digital solutions to support scheduling, SCM and supply chain optimisation workflows during periods of volatility and disruptions can enhance medicine accessibility, quality and affordability.
Digitalisation is a growth accelerator that can affect the whole of the product lifecycle in the pharmaceutical industry, from research and development to the supply chain.
But, pharma companies should get started now. They have already demonstrated the ability to respond to global crises, now they need to evolve with haste to build resilience for the next one!