Scotland’s Life Sciences Dinner and Annual Awards | Life & Chemical Sciences Sector: The Future Won’t Look Like the Past
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Life & Chemical Sciences Sector: The Future Won’t Look Like the Past

Martin Welsh, Managing Director at Booth Welsh, blogs about the advent of Industry 4.0 and the transformational changes taking place in the life sciences sector.

As a process control company, Booth Welsh has worked in the Life & Chemical Sciences industry for 28 years, developing long term partnerships with many companies within this sector, including GSK and Merck.

Booth Welsh has been at the forefront of technology changes throughout its history and has embraced innovation to increase its services and optimise its value for clients. However, this next step change, defined as “Industry 4.0” or “Digitalisation”, is by far the most significant change and will transform our industry.

By developing solutions which combine ‘Industry 4.0’ technologies and adding them to our traditional process control and instrumentation offering, Booth Welsh are adding new services and more value to our clients.

As our industry evolves, it has become critically important to keep up to date with the latest technology, to remain relevant and stay ahead of the curve. As we focus on how technology will impact upon us and how we can use it to our advantage, there is a lot to learn and adapt to in the new world of “Industry 4.0” and “Digitalisation”.

Industry 4.0 is the term that has been coined to refer to the 4th Industrial Revolution, which is seen as the move towards Cyber Physical Systems.  It is the development of automation, connectivity and data exchange in manufacturing and industry in general, driven by four main disruptions:

  • The significant rise in data volumes, computational power, and connectivity
  • The emergence of analytics and business-intelligence capabilities
  • Advances in human-machine interaction such as touch interfaces and augmented-reality systems
  • Capabilities to transfer digital instructions to the physical world, such as advanced robotics and 3-D printing

Digitalisation describes the increasing convergence of digital and physical technologies and is creating unprecedented opportunities for life and chemical sciences organisations and supply chains to optimise productivity and competitiveness. Digitalisation technology in devices such as sensors, the Industrial Internet of Things, virtual reality, augmented reality and simulation, have the capability to transform modern manufacturing by enabling the generation and analysis of digital data that supports the development of smarter products, smarter processes and smarter supply chains.

Some of the potential benefits include:

Vertical Integration

Through standardised interfaces the provision of real time and role specific data to those who need it will enable improved planning and speed of decision making on issues around, quality, data integrity and process improvement. Data will be readily available at all levels from ERP, MES, DCS and factory floor and through ease of integration and a plug and produce approach up front engineering and validation effort will be reduced.

Digital Modelling

By the creation of a digital twin, systems and processes can be recreated in a virtual environment and allow virtualised systems to be built, operated, optimised and enhanced digitally. This will leverage process simulation, virtual reality and cloud-based technology to create an environment where all aspects of manufacturing can be explored in detail and quickly. For example, simulation of production processes (whether dynamic process modelling, process control development or process/production work flow development) will enable rapid product prototyping and optimisation before application in the real world. Similarly, using virtual reality, engineers will be able to interact with manufacturing systems virtually with zero risk to product quality and ultimately patient health. Optimisations around process upsets, process design, factory layout, operator training and human machine interaction can be done safely in a virtual environment.

Big Data and Data analytics

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), through a multitude of connected sensors and systems, is already providing large volumes of production and process data previously unavailable. Through the concept of ‘big data’ and data analytics, manufacturing organisations will be able to capture, share and analyse this data. The data can also be made available globally via cloud connected systems and through open standards which will enable connectivity of global manufacturing operations in a standardised way. Through analytics, production and machine issues can be identified before they occur, process anomalies revealed, and compliance decisions made on high integrity batch data.

Although new technology plays a key role in the adoption of a digitalisation strategy for any organisation, supporting areas around skills and people play an equally vital role. New roles and capabilities will be required across the L&CS supply chain; helping to deploy and maintain digital eco systems built for the future. Equally, unprecedented levels of collaboration and partnership will be required between suppliers, service providers and manufacturing organisations. Few organisations will have the capability to deliver a digital strategy alone.

The initial step for any client is to understand where the digital priorities lie whilst also being mindful of the overall business transformation required to maintain a competitive advantage. This will require a close look at how other industries are adopting digitalisation and how customer behaviours are changing, and which suppliers and manufacturers they can best collaborate with to help meet these new expectations. A gap analysis or benchmarking service will reveal where the most need exists and from that point collaborative teams can create strategies and design solutions to deliver early results and start the journey to a digitalised future. This will require business leaders to be innovative and to take a holistic view of the complete business and the substantial benefits this will deliver for the long term.

Booth Welsh is well placed to deliver Digital Transformation as a service and support this next industrial revolution by collaborating to innovate with clients, partners, academia and suppliers.

We are a proud sponsor of the Innovative Collaboration Award at the Life & Chemical Sciences Awards on the 28th February and look forward to celebrating the greatest Scottish talent here.

Explore the topics of Industry 4.0 and Digitalisation and follow our journey on social media at #Industry4thoughts and #collaboratetoinnovate

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