17 December 2019 - by Michael Segnana

Industry 4.0 in Pharma: 3 key takeaways from Manupharma 2019

On 3 & 4 December 2019, the Manupharma conference in Frankfurt took place, bringing together stakeholders from big and small pharmaceutical companies to share inspiration on the current state of play around industry 4.0 new innovations in the field of pharma manufacturing.

In short, 2 days filled with sharing ideas, getting inspired & networking with likeminded professionals within the pharmaceutical industry.

While this industry is often considered as one of the front runners in innovation, there’s still a lot of uncertainty about how to best tackle industry 4.0 topics. Bigger companies have already started executing roadmaps whilst others are still on the verge of rolling out successful pilots to their supply network, and some are only just watching what’s happening from the side-line and plan to start the journey towards their digital pharma plant in the next years to come.

So, here’s what I learned at Manupharma 2019 on how to tackle industry 4.0 in pharma today:

1. The digital journey is one where a company constantly needs to challenge itself

Bayer set the scene with John O’Sullivan (VP, Global Head of IT BP Product Supply for Pharmaceuticals at Bayer) and Kalil Lessi  (Global IT Business Partner Pharmaceuticals Product Supply at Bayer) reviewing their digital initiatives currently taking place in pilot factories. Amongst many other cases, they created value in improvement of QC lab lead time by applying digital twin concepts. According to Bayer, some of the challenges they are facing can be categorized in 4 different areas:

  • CULTURE – “How do we change our culture to create a more agile and digital mindset ?”
  • DATA – “Can we access all relevant data from our machines and interfaces?”
  • CYBERSECURITY – “How do we handle data in a secure way and as such avoid risking security breaches?”
  • GxP – “How do we perform changes in a validated environment?”

So, being open to challenge yourself all the time will enable you to know your challenges and get insights on how to deal with them, which is essential when working on your digital journey.

2. Agile is a mindset which can be achieved by embedding leadership company wide

Automotive, being a discrete industry, is often seen as thé example when it comes to manufacturing innovation. They are very standardised with execution platforms already defined for their plants for many years. This means that this industry is most likely of being the furthest ahead in industry 4.0. Sama Mbang (Digitalization Manager at Daimler) shared that being a frontrunner in this area does not necessarily mean that the right culture and mindset is automatically present as well.

Just like Bayer, they faced some challenges getting there. One of their main assets? The fact that they took a very strong top to bottom approach with leaders setting the scene and empowering key stakeholders within the organisation to embrace and lead the digital journey.

Implementing this kind of change management process will empower your people and will allow the wave of digitalisations to reach the entire company.

3. Being open to learn from your mistakes helps you for future endeavors

Industry 4.0 and digital transformation in manufacturing is not only a journey which is explored by the big players; also smaller companies and CMO’s can differentiate themselves and stay competitive in the market by starting the journey now. One of the presentations that proofed this point and inspired the audience was the one from Christophe Dohr at ACINO. Dohr illustrated their digital journey with some practical examples including moving to paperless QC labs, introducing advanced analytics and getting value from applying robotic process automation techniques. The fact that they’re doing so well here, is just because they’re able to identify their successes AND failures and take these learnings to move on.

To summarize, Manupharma 2019 was an inspiring and insightful event, with .
Happy to hear your thoughts and comments, so let’s discuss!

by Jurgen Sanders (Supply Chain & Operations Professional bluecrux) – let’s get in touch!