The mobile solutions promoting safety for pharma manufacturers – EPM Magazine

Mike Knapp, director at Peacock Engineering discusses how pharmaceutical manufacturers can use integrated mobile solutions to improve safety in highly volatile environments.

Whilst compliance and safety are paramount to every pharmaceutical organisation, the industry still experiences unfortunate accidents. The recognition that working with volatile components or in an unstable environment means that organisations need to think not only about health and safety, but also how to incorporate adequate warnings and flags into research and manufacturing processes.

Technological advances may provide the answer to resolving this conflict; indeed, identifying technology usage features as one of the top 10 issues within the industry. Emerging technologies around artificial intelligence (AI) and automation offer significant opportunities within a digitised supply chain by reducing manufacturing costs and increasing compliance.

Predictions around the savings and potential growth vary, however technology could help accelerate growth by up to 5%. This would generate an average of £10bn new revenue over the next decade, helping to counteract the cost of bring new drugs to market.

However, investing in new technology cannot be seen in isolation. Pharmaceutical industries that are looking to achieve a competitive advantage through technology will be looking at integrating technology into a business transformation programme, where they look at operating models, production processes and supply chain.

All of these need to be closely aligned to health and safety ensuring that technology is able to both demonstrate and adhere to the required compliance.

One key area for consideration is Enterprise Asset Management (EAM). There are a number of asset management systems which are used by pharmaceutical and chemical organisations involved in drug manufacturing.

Advances in technology means that combining AI (through predictive analytics) and automation with an asset management system can provide a real competitive advantage. Predictive analytics, or machine-based learning, could provide a health and safety revolution particularly for those organisations using toxic and flammable materials. By calculating the interaction scenarios between volatile components, it is possible to create a warning system that forecasts issues before they occur.

Being able to work in an explosive environment requires specialist technology to allow an integrated asset management system to function effectively. Many systems do not have adequately robust mobile solutions that allow seamless integration into the main asset management system. This results in a reliance on paper-based processes or off-line mobile solutions that duplicate effort and time.

Having a mobile system that allows engineers and technicians to maintain production lines in a volatile environment has a number of benefits. As well as improving efficiency (through the removal of duplicated entry) it improves health and safety standards. Mobile systems such are now designed to operate in explosive environments, so that engineers can report and work in real-time.

This means that an organisation can have one database rather than a separate asset management system and computerised ATEX system. This means there is only one central database, allowing all reporting and information interrogation to be automated.

Advances in technology mean the opportunities around predictive analytics and automation for pharmaceutical and chemical organisations are now a reality. Companies are able to incorporate these into their asset management systems so that their systems and processes are fully integrated and robust. This means that organisations are able to more effectively deal with health, safety and compliance as well as the more complex issues of financial constraints or ageing plant in declining areas.

Regardless of which system is used though, having an asset management system that has a fully integrated mobile solution is key to ensuring that the company is able to address these issues and to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace.


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