Technology adoption for the pharma sector in India is pivotal to kick-start pharma manufacturing at a time when access to workforce is difficult due to the COVID-19 lockdown. The current phase has brought a standstill to all industry operations across the country.
Smart manufacturing is a technology-driven approach to automate, monitor operations, increase production performance and ensure profitability.
Just as the Union government categorized pharmaceuticals as an essential service during the COVID-19 lockdown, the pharmaceutical industry faced challenges of logistics, supply chain and workforce absenteeism. In an era of Industry 4.0 which is all about smart manufacturing, there is a need to automate work processes and ensure technology adoption, said Dilip Sawhney, managing director, Rockwell Automation.
It was in the last few weeks, when living through the lockdown, practices like social distancing and donning masks emerged. Now this could be the new normal at least for the next 18 months. It is also evident that there is a scale-down of human resources to carry out necessary operations. And pharma manufacturing needs to ensure a high level of productivity with fractional human resource participation, he added.
It is here the pharma industry will need to consider remote collaboration through virtual networking. Concepts like Augmented Reality come to the fore as the industry across India still needs to carry out the necessary manufacturing operations, noted Sawhney at a webinar on ‘Smart manufacturing technologies to be maximized during black swan events like COVID-19′.
Using Augmented Reality, data analytics, machine learning, internet of things (IoT) and artificial intelligence, companies can start production operations.
During this lockdown and going forward in the post-COVID-19 phase, deployment of the right resources is the key. With the absenteeism imminent across the plant shop floors, Indian pharma particularly needs to re-imagine the future of manufacturing and how with available employees can collaborate and work. Solutions like virtual collaboration remote assistance can allow the workforce to look at their plant machines from anywhere in the country or the world and make decisions in real-time for uninterrupted production schedules. At the end of the day, it is all about human ingenuity, innovation and resourcefulness, he said.
Digitization rises up to the challenges of the pandemic that the world is going through. Here customers are looking at technology to address the current crisis. This is because technology optimizes productivity, decreases downtime, eases bottlenecks, ensures regulatory compliance and prevents human errors. “Hence Indian pharma needs to adopt smart manufacturing concepts to augment production and profitability, said Sawhney.