Article | January 7, 2023

Biopharma 4.0: The Convergence Of Informational, Operational, And Processing Technologies

By Joshua Hays, Associate Director of Commercial Strategy at MilliporeSigma, and Cornelia Thieme, Director of Global Manufacturing Science at Biogen

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The evolutionary stages of manufacturing over the course of history have reshaped how goods are produced and delivered to consumers, changing the way we do business around the world. However, the latest industrial revolution, known as Industry 4.0, is expected to dramatically transform business in many ways we have yet to see by utilizing automation, data, and analytics to increase efficiency in manufacturing, reduce errors, and increase quality. The transparency that manufacturers would achieve by connecting processes, products, and supply chain could improve communication and monitoring, leading to better traceability across an entire network of partners and systems. Leveraging data instantaneously will also allow for real-time and better-informed decision-making, resulting in the reduction of downtime by recognizing and addressing problems before they occur.

Recognizing a need to address new ways of advancing the biopharma industry, the Biophorum Operations Group (BPOG) released a technology road map intended to drive the manufacturing and technology capabilities of Industry 4.0. The concepts outlined in BPOG’s long-term strategy will adapt Industry 4.0 into the bioprocessing sector, where it becomes “Biopharma 4.0,” a movement intended to lead to innovative and more efficient facilities. The road map includes aggressive efficiency targets that, if met, will evolve the industry and make these lifesaving medicines available all over the world (and not just in developed countries, as they are today). As a result, these targets are not achievable through small, isolated improvements but rather via a holistic approach that combines improved process technologies with the advancements of digital solutions. Biomanufacturers seeking a place in a competitive and lucrative future must start engaging in change now to meet the demands for delivering drugs more quickly to the patients who need them.

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