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Killian O’Driscoll

Director of Projects, NIBRT

While many companies have expressed interest in the potential of Industry 4.0, they have often struggled with the implementation of digital transformation projects.

The impact of Industry 4.0 on biopharma manufacturing has been a hot topic for the last number of years. However, there is often a challenge in piloting innovative technology in highly used GMP facilities, which are under pressure to deliver commercial production volumes.

Overcoming implementation challenges

Firstly, in order to overcome the industry challenges, companies should develop a cohesive strategy and roadmap for digital transformation with a focus on high value use cases.Many companies lack the requisite organisation-wide roadmap, so they face a number of potential problems. Digital initiatives are often siloed and uncoordinated, which can lead to duplicated efforts, reduced impact and an inability to change the overall course of an organisation.

Secondly, there is a requirement for investment in digital capability. Ultimately, biomanufacturing employees are needed to implement digital tools and to maximise their value. Too often there is a default to an IT led system-centric approach that prioritises system selection and assumes value will come from implementation alone. A much higher likelihood of success will come from a business and people-centric approach that identifies and builds talent and then empowers operational staff to implement use cases that deliver value.

In order to overcome these challenges, firstly companies should develop a cohesive strategy and roadmap for digital transformation with a focus on high value use cases.

Help and support available

Multiple consultancy firms and vendors offer commercial solutions to assist with 4.0 projects. State agencies have also invested in organisations such as IMR, Confirm, iForm to collaborate with industry.

From a NIBRT perspective we have driven several 4.0 initiatives which enable industry to upskill their staff and to assess emerging technologies:

  • NIBRT and Siemens Data Champions kick-starter programme enables companies to upskill their staff on the implementation of data analytics projects in biopharma manufacturing.
  • Working with BCG, NIBRT have developed suite of Biopharma 4.0 training programmes on how companies can use cutting edge technologies such as robotics, artificial intelligence, virtual reality and augmented reality to optimise manufacturing operations. 
  • Partnering with Lonza, PM Group, Novartis and UCD to evaluate deployment of autonomous robots for environmental monitoring.
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