The Impact of Industry 4.0 on New Business Opportunities in Pharma and MedTech

Industry 4.0 technologies allow your business to improve efficiency, enhance the service you offer to customers, and increase profitability in your current manufacturing operations. These are compelling reasons for developing and implementing an Industry 4.0 strategy.

Industry 4.0 is about more than enhancing and improving your business operations, though. The technologies, processes, and ways of thinking that are part of Industry 4.0 also create new business opportunities.

Plus, here’s the thing: whether your manufacturing facility and wider organisation take advantage of these new opportunities or not, others will.

These business opportunities were highlighted in Ireland’s Industry 4.0 Strategy 2020-2025, published in December 2019 by the Department of Business and Innovation. Let’s look at them in more detail.

Producing Targeted Products

We are moving towards a situation where patients and consumers will take medicines and use medical devices that have been personalised for them at the manufacturer. This will be possible across the entire patient experience, from diagnostics to prescribing to treatments.

The level of customisation that will be possible with batch-of-one manufacturing capabilities will be substantially more than is the norm at the moment.

Furthermore, this shift to targeted healthcare products will take on a snowball effect that will get bigger and faster as it gains momentum.

Information-Based Medicine

This involves the use of data to improve treatment and diagnostic decisions by medical practitioners, predict outcomes on an individual and group basis, and generally improve the quality of healthcare that everyone receives.

Technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, sensors, data analysis, and wearable technology make this possible. Manufacturing approaches like mass customisation and flexible batch manufacturing are important too.

In other words, establishing a greater connection between the factory floor, medical practitioners, and patients with the objective of improving health outcomes.

Connected Health and Medicine Delivery

Following on from the above point, the development of end-to-end medical devices, connected health, medicine, and drug delivery solutions is going to be transformative for patient care and health outcomes.

Patient-Focused Mindset

You can see from the above Industry 4.0 business opportunities that they are all centred on improving the quality of care delivered to patients. Often, however, conversations regarding Industry 4.0 mainly focus on business improvements:

  • Improved OEE
  • Productivity gains
  • Reduced equipment downtime
  • Expanded automation
  • Improved management oversight
  • Efficiency improvements
  • Enhanced profitability

All of these things are important.

However, the most significant beneficiaries that will emerge in the pharmaceuticals and medical device industries in the years to come, those who will be referred to as disruptors, will be those who take a patient/consumer-centric approach.

Business and Industry Transformation

The technologies that are available and that are being developed will change healthcare and patient outcomes forever. This is where the most significant benefits of Industry 4.0 can be found.

There will still be challenges, of course. After all, while there are only a couple of letters that differ between the words “digitisation” and “digitalisation”, the impact of these two concepts on operations and business models is barely comparable.

While most manufacturing operations in the pharmaceutical industry and medical device industry around the world are moving towards an advanced “digitisation” stage, “digitalisation”, business transformation, and the major benefits of Industry 4.0 should be on your radar too. There is too much potential in the new business opportunities not to.

Darragh McMorrow

Darragh McMorrow, SL Controls’ Commercial Director, has 15 years of engineering services and contract solutions experience acquiring an in-depth knowledge of manufacturing systems integration services. He has direct responsibility for developing long-term partnerships with companies in the medical devices, pharmaceutical, and FMCG sectors as well as for implementing commercial strategies to continue growing the business nationally and internationally.

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