Drives & Controls Magazine May 2023

46 n SCIENTIFIC AND MEDICAL May 2023 Harnessing digitalisation to create agile pharmaceutical production facilities Future-oriented manufacturing is all about flexible and responsive operations that can address market demands based on data and insights. Can pharmaceutical manufacturers, with their highly regulated manufacturing processes, embrace agile strategies to improve their competitiveness? The short answer is yes – provided that the right automation technologies are used. Companies in a wide range of sectors are rethinking their approach to manufacturing and adopting strategies driven by “smart” technologies. Factories, for example, are being upgraded with innovative, data-driven technologies that communicate with each other to optimise operations. In effect, industrial automation represents a paradigm shift, where processes and operating conditions are no longer set in stone. Instead, businesses can leverage real-time data and automated systems to determine process adjustments to overcome variability and maximise end-product quality. By automating their production lines intelligently, manufacturers are creating essential tools that can help them thrive in a competitive marketplace and overcome many challenges. These include fluctuations in raw materials and their properties, changing market needs and bespoke customer or public health requests. This new era of manufacturing is also offering significant benefits to pharmaceutical companies, which have traditionally been bound by strict and highly regulated process requirements. Automation can be a key asset for businesses operating in this sector. Most importantly, data-driven systems can help manufacturers to ensure optimum batch efficiency through improved accuracy of control and immediate responses to changes in operating conditions to maximise product quality. In addition, these technologies can support real-time release testing (RTRT) to speed up the time-to- market for key medications. New forms of treatment Industrial automation is extremely versatile and can be deployed in a wide range of settings in pharmaceutical enterprises. These can range from research and development to manufacturing, testing, packaging and equipment maintenance. Automated systems are also a must for pharmaceutical companies wanting to reach the pinnacle of agile manufacturing, by delivering personalised medicines. These treatments, also known as precision medicine, are designed to address the needs and genetic makeup of individual patients. This is achieved using “data-hungry”systems that feed on information to enable the production of the customised medicines. As technology evolves, companies are able to access more and more tools to develop innovative strategies to optimise healthcare and well-being. By determining the best approach for automating processes and incorporating modern components in production lines, pharmaceutical manufacturers can become more agile. This, in turn, will maximise flexibility, scalability and responsiveness, ultimately improving competitiveness. n Mitsubishi Electric has produced a White Paper called Advancing pharmaceutical manufacturing now – key automation technologies, applications and real-world benefits, that explains how industrial automation can help pharmaceutical companies to create agile production facilities: David Bean, Mitsubishi Electric’s solutions group manager, looks at how the digital transformation of pharmaceutical operations is key to more dynamic, agile manufacturing. Automated systems are essential for pharmaceutical companies wanting to reach the pinnacle of agile manufacturing