Digital transformation is something almost every company on the planet is already pursuing, as it transports them to the present and brings them closer to the future. Without a doubt, today, it is a necessity rather than a luxury. In this sense, and although the industrial sector has myriad ramifications, today, we want to talk about the digitization of industrial processes in the pharmaceutical sector.
The pharmaceutical industry needs the security and integrity of the data generated to be maintained throughout all stages of production. For this reason, the digitization of industrial processes in the pharmaceutical sector has peculiarities that must be respected. This industry requires production speeds as new diseases continue to emerge. As a result, new medicines have to be mass-produced. Efficiency and productivity are two of the objectives pursued through the digitization of the sector.
When we talk about Pharma 4.0 (a term coined by the International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering), we are referring to the framework for adopting (and adapting) digitization strategies in the unique context of pharmaceutical manufacturing. In practical terms, Pharma 4.0 translates into increased connectivity within the manufacturing plant and between the various sites of the pharmaceutical company.
As mentioned, the paradigm shift that Pharma 4.0 brings to the pharmaceutical sector is not only in the production field but also involves the sectors of research, development, and distribution. A holistic approach relies heavily on tools such as big data, artificial intelligence algorithms, collaborative robotics, and cloud-based distributed architectures. In this scenario, communication systems play a crucial role in disseminating information inside and outside the plant.
As mentioned, the digital maturity of the pharmaceutical sector is also known as Pharma 4.0, and to achieve this point, we need to perform digitization of the process. It is, therefore, essential to identify the processes most susceptible to change and include them as priorities in the digitization plan. The digital transformation significantly improves the plant's production and automation systems and its R&D and commercial management activities. These are the requirements needed to deploy the scan process.
While industrial digital transformation can make it much easier to manage the production and operations of a pharmaceutical plant, it is essential to always keep in mind that several challenges must be addressed.
Digital transformation is changing the Pharma world, and excellent opportunities are opening up for companies operating in the sector. Digital transformation is now also taking place in the pharmaceutical world. The so-called Pharma 4.0 operating model adapts strategies and digital elements to the complex and highly regulated pharmaceutical industry.
Its realization involves various aspects within companies, ranging from processes to human resources, from work organization to the general mindset. By exploiting the potential of digital as much as possible, healthcare companies aim to provide innovative solutions to improve people's well-being.
"Digital transformation in Pharma affects aspects such as research, production, and distribution but also internal processes and workflows, as well as the relationship methods between these companies and their public, i.e., patients and healthcare professionals," explains Alessia Sersanti, Co-Founder, Managing Partner and Marketing Director of Polk&Union, a digital communication agency with solid experience in the pharma sector.
According to the manager, "digital transformation offers four significant advantages to pharmaceutical companies, which can also be found in marketing and communication.
The concepts related to 'pharma 4.0' are making their way into the world of drug manufacturers. This industry model's unique characteristics drive investments in digital transformation; this is also due to the particular delicate historical moment. A trend that certainly didn't start today but which, in this unexpected and complicated period, has seen an unprecedented acceleration.
On the one hand, the sector is subjected to significant stress; on the other, it is faced with unprecedented opportunities. However, this is an acceleration that will continue after the expiration of the urgency. Therefore, the digitization process in the pharmaceutical sector must look at the present and medium-long term.
For the pharmaceutical world, this can translate into a coherent combination of interventions in different fields.
Furthermore, the working context of companies operating in the pharmaceutical and medical sector is characterized by multiple regulatory requirements: industry standards, binding standards, and strict legal regulations that greatly influence quality management and process documentation, as well as the administrative burden that as a result, there is a strong impact in terms of costs and efficiency.
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