Rami Cassis, founder and CEO of Parabellum investments, looks at how Industry 4.0 will transform the pharmaceutical industry and how businesses can successfully embrace the innovation.
An international growth investor with extensive experience in operations, Cassis’s current investments include pharmaceutical serialisation specialist, Advanco; automation firm, Parseq; risk management solutions firm, Razor Risk; and digital transformation firm, ieDigital.
What is industry 4.0
We are entering the next transformation in the way we manufacture and transport goods. It’s often brushed aside as a marketing buzzword, but it will revolutionise the bricks and mortar of so many of our industries – Industry 4.0.
The first and second industrial revolutions saw mechanisation through water and steam power then mass production and electricity-powered assembly lines. The third gave us computers and automation. The next wave of innovation – 4.0 – will build on this, enhancing computers and automation through smart and integrated systems fuelled by data and machine learning.
Industry 4.0 will connect the computers used in industry so they can communicate with one another to ultimately make decisions without human involvement. As the computers continue to get smarter, by taking on more data, so will entire factories and warehouses. Whole systems will work cohesively to produce a faster, more efficient, more productive, and less wasteful supply chain.
Yet many industries – notably the pharmaceutical industry – have been hesitant to implement the digital technology of Industry 4.0. Initial costs and a complete re-thinking of operational processes has created pushback. Many businesses will also struggle to find the talent and knowledge necessary to support a smooth transition to entirely new digital systems.
However, mounting pressures – such as those from globalisation, ever-increasing supply chain complexity, cost pressures, and issues of sustainability – mean eventual (and full) adoption of Industry 4.0 is an inevitability.
So, why not embrace the next revolution?
How businesses can embrace the Industry 4.0 revolution
At the heart of driving the transformation in every business will be talented individuals who truly understand the technology, its risks, and its potential. It’s therefore vital that companies invest in this talent – hiring it, developing it in-house, and retaining it.
As part of this, businesses in all impacted sectors must bring in senior management from industries outside their own – ones with deep knowledge and understanding of technology, data, and computing. And recruiting from other industries that are further along in the adoption of 4.0 will be of huge value.
Instilling a culture of innovation at the very heart of the business could make the difference between a successful transformation and operational failure. The move to Industry 4.0 won’t happen overnight – it will take continued learning, testing, and innovating over a number of years.
Businesses should embrace HR as a vital tool on this front and bolster their boardrooms and management teams with professionals who know how to create and sustain a culture to support this.
Implications of Industry 4.0 for the pharmaceutical industry
Industry 4.0. will revolutionise the way the pharmaceutical sector works. Once only available to large enterprises, robotics is becoming far more affordable and available to organisations of all sizes. As robotics is integrated into the smart systems of Industry 4.0, production lines throughout the pharmaceutical industry will become far more efficient and productive, cutting huge costs.
It will also create a far more optimised supply chain – which is especially important for the pharmaceutical industry given that blockages and disruptions can create life-threatening shortages of drugs. If, for example, a weather delay ties up a shipment, a connected system can proactively adjust to that reality and modify priorities accordingly.
But, perhaps the most important implication of Industry 4.0 for the pharmaceutical industry will be its impact on serialisation and track and trace. A transparent supply chain with robust serialisation and track and trace processes will be at the forefront of tackling the plague of counterfeiting in the industry.
Meeting, and exceeding, the need for transparency will be made far more difficult without the adoption of Industry 4.0.
We are already seeing the implementation of agile supply chain regulation in the industry which will require a strong industry standard of an open and transparent interface. To do this, the hardware and the software among different vendors needs to be much more aligned – something that is facilitated by digitisation.
Industry 4.0 will revolutionise industries throughout the manufacturing, shipping, and logistics space, as well as further afield. But its impact may be particularly transformative for the pharmaceuticals industry. As well as improving operational efficiencies, driving up productivity, and reducing waste, it will take the industry a leap closer to ending counterfeiting and protect against future supply chain disruptions, such as those we saw during the pandemic.
If the industry is to successfully embrace digitalisation, it must invest time and effort in talent, innovation culture, and the technology itself. While it may seem like a steep hill to climb, the benefits of the move will more than pay for the investment.
The ability of businesses to successfully implement and adapt to the technology of Industry 4.0 will be the deciding factor in their long-term prosperity. The race is on.
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