The pandemic has hit countless industries in ways that few were prepared to handle, disrupting global production and supply chains with devastating results. Pharmaceutical companies are among the worst hit, at a time when the fast and efficient manufacturing and procurement of pharmaceutical drugs is essential. However, pharmaceutical industry digitization may just hold the answer.
Despite promising leads for potential vaccines and treatments in the works, drug makers would have to manufacture and distribute millions if not billions of doses worldwide – a looming challenge in itself.
The pandemic has exposed the need for more flexibility, resilience and efficiency in many industries, and technologies that characterize industry 4.0 such as automation, artificial intelligence, and machine learning are the surgeon’s tools for achieving these goals. There are numerous avenues and applications through which pharmaceutical industry digitization can take place that major industry producers like India and China, who together cover 80% of the world’s pharma-chemical production, can utilize. Research and development of pharmaceutical drugs can greatly benefit from digitization of their systems. Better data gathering, monitoring and automation can reduce costs and increase speed of production, as well as increase productivity, and enable improvement of product designs. By collecting and organizing data more efficiently, effective insights can be drawn more quickly and accurately to guide further research, and speed up the development process.
Pharmaceutical industry digitization will also most definitely improve productivity in factories and labs and make pharma products more cost-competitive and augment productivity and efficiency. The use of digital technology can mitigate human error and improve quality by up to 40% according to a report by McKinsey. In terms of the workforce, digital information systems combined with augmented and virtual reality can be used to train new employees.
The innovative use of industry 4.0 technologies in the pharmaceutical sector can present, not only a solution to the COVID-19 crisis, but can be adopted globally as more countries learn and adapt to present challenges.