Embracing digital manufacturing in pharma

10.05.23 Articles

The pharmaceutical industry is one of the most important sectors in the world. It provides incredible scientific advancements, lifesaving medications, and treatments to millions of people.

However, it has also been said to be too conservative and slow to advance. This is particularly true when it comes to manufacturing. Industry 4.0 (also called the Fourth Industrial Revolution) and digital manufacturing has revolutionised other industries, reducing costs, boosting production efficiency, and improving product quality.

With rising operating costs, increasing demand, and funding challenges, is it time the pharma industry became more aggressive in its pursuit of digital manufacturing?

Here are our thoughts…

By combining Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and 3D printing, pharma companies can:

  • Increase accuracy, allowing for precise adjustments in real-time, reducing manual inputs and margin for error.
  • Deliver faster production cycles with streamlined automation processes, accelerating drug development and reducing costs.
  • Improve overall quality performance, introducing automated quality control systems into the mix.
  • Provide increased flexibility by allowing for rapid adjustment to production lines, in response to changing market demands or scientific developments. 

AI and ML are two crucial components of digital manufacturing and are more commonly seen within the pharma sector. AI allows us to analyse vast amounts of data, which is useful in drug development and production processes. This helps to identify patterns that could lead to improved outcomes or more efficient operations. ML then taken this analysis a step further by using algorithms to create predictive models based on the collected data.

These models allow companies to accurately forecast trends or changes so they can better prepare for them accordingly.

3D printing is the final piece of the jigsaw, bringing faster turn around times, improved degrees of accuracy, and reduced waste. It eliminates many manual steps from the drug production process as specific instructions are pre-programmed, reducing the need for human oversight during each stage of production. As well as the obvious cost benefit 3D printing brings, there are also environmental benefits with regards to waste and energy consumption as well.

Our thoughts

Digital manufacturing promises a revolution, and with its combination of AI, ML, and 3D printing capabilities we can see why it feels that way. But we don’t think a blanket, universal approach is the way to go. The key is all about the application. By leveraging these tools, in the right places, pharma companies can create drugs that are safer, more affordable and in turn more accessible.

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