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Four ways Industry 4.0 can benefit life sciences

Firms based in the life sciences sector can gain an immense competitive edge by embracing a new, innovative business model, powered by advanced technologies. According to Intueri Consulting expert Ambarish Dasgupta, adoption of disruptive technologies can transform the manufacturing value chain in the Life Sciences industry.

Intueri Consulting is an advisory partnership headquartered in India. With around 40 experts at the firm, Intueri leverages a collective 20 years of consulting experience to provide its clients with tax, trading, economic, and socio-political risk advisory services. Ambarish Dasgupta co-founded the firm in 2017, following a distinguished career with Big Four firms PwC and KPMG.

Now a senior partner with Intueri, he believes clients in the life sciences sector would be well advised to examine their manufacturing pipe-lines if they are to survive in the increasingly competitive sector.

In a post on the consultancy’s website, Dasgupta contended, “The life sciences sector is currently under tremendous pressure resulting from several factors, namely an ever-ageing world population, a faster spread of diseases due to increasing international travel, and the phenomenal rise in the chronic diseases. The companies are struggling to meet huge consumer expectations of coming up with new, cutting-edge drugs that save more lives. In this situation, moving forward, it will become increasingly difficult for companies to stay in business unless they opt for an Industry 4.0 makeover.”

Supply chain management

One way in which Industry 4.0 can help life sciences competitors is assisting with supply chain management. Dasgupta explained that next-generation supply chains can be analytics-driven, and monitored and controlled through a centralised system in real time. This could prove to be essential as companies move into partnerships with firms in developing countries to decrease their bottom-line spending.

One example of this is that blockchains are increasingly being used in the supply chain process by a number of players. For instance, beyond Life Sciences, American retail giant Wal-Mart employs blockchain technology to track its sales of pork in China, monitoring where every piece of meat originates from, how it is processed, where it is stored, and what its sell-by date is. While track and trace can be set up without blockchain, in a notoriously non-transparent marketplace such as China, information without the secure shared ledger system might not be especially trustworthy.

Scope of innovation

Innovation is not just relevant to how a medicine or a technology is developed; it is about the entire patient journey. Drug makers need to work more closely with those who prescribe them and patient groups – but they also need to be aware of consumer trends hidden in their data.

Dasgupta explained, “Clinical research involves dealing with an enormous amount of data. Massive and costly infrastructure is needed to mine, analyse and simulate the data. This costly process can be avoided by integrating cloud-based solutions across a company’s research facilities, irrespective of their geographical locations. These data can then be accessed by disparate teams stationed in different locations for analysis. This system is helping minimise the time and expenses relating to trials. This wider access to data and information is, in turn, making open innovations possible.”

Automation of operations

In the UK consulting market, the health & life sciences segment is expected to have high growth in the coming years, as clients seek assistance for automation programmes across their operations. On a global level, this is illustrated by the prediction of Infiniti Research that the industrial automation market for the life sciences industry is poised to grow by $1.92 billion during 2020-2024, progressing at a CAGR of 6% during the forecast period.

“Companies are bypassing manual steps with automation,” Dasgupta stated. “An increasing number of medical device manufacturing facilities are integrating Process Analytical Technologies (PAT) system into assembly lines to speed up production while optimizing the batch quality and minimising wastes and production costs.”

Getting it done

Shifting to Industry 4.0 is a key prerogative for the life sciences sector in the coming years, then. More and more firms in the sector are turning to digital solutions to help them compete in the crowded and fast-changing market. However, as with any major shift, companies should be prepared for facing challenges while adopting an Industry 4.0 model – as even minor technological missteps could result in costly production outages.

Spelling out how his firm helps clients mitigate such risks, Dasgupta concluded, “Intueri manages the whole Industry 4.0 implementation into three phases. The first phase involves a proof of concept of Industry 4.0, by tackling the organisation’s most pressing issue. In the second phase, Intueri conducts a comprehensive Industry 4.0 maturity and feasibility assessment for the organization, and roadmap design for Industry 4.0 implementation. The third phase will involve implementation and post-implementation monitoring.”


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