Reimagining Manufacturing: The Coming of Age of the Pharmaceutical Industry

Geena Malhotra

September 4, 2020

Today, COVID's massive disruption has pushed us all to explore our true potential. Advancements in motion over several years have catapulted into actionable realities within months. We have realized that as an industry and as people, we can handle major disruptions and adjust within a limited period. The whole fabric of processes and capacities involved in manufacturing had to be #reimagined. Besides overcoming a temporary roadblock and forging a recovery-path, this is how we navigate the new normal and ensure preparedness for any such events in future.

In our company, it is second nature to read the environment and calibrate to align with what the world needs. This pandemic, we had to ensure that operations and production continued undisrupted, despite limited resources. We realized where process-redundancies could be removed, manpower better deployed and campaigns run differently to reduce the downtime. With changing capacities and uncertainties about manual-intervention, using technology, we empowered people to work remotely and reassigned capacities for manufacturing thereby de-risking products. Industry 4.0 is all about changing the current paradigms by improving manufacturing-processes and decision-making through digitization and automation. Everything will be connected eventually creating more transparencies and solutions to deal with market-demands for low-cost and flexibility.

Today, we have successfully harnessed our data for higher accuracies in forecasting demand and production-requirements for seamless manufacturing. We see massive potential in what technologies like AI and ML can achieve in pharma. Predictive analytics also has much potential in transforming supply-chains making them more #patientcentric.

As an industry, we have been slower to adopt newer approaches because of the inherent risk attached to anything new. As a sensitive and highly regulated sector, we have to think a thousand times to affect any changes that will impact patients. Nonetheless, I call ourselves fortunate since there is an advantage in being a late mover through shared experiences and others’ learnings across industries.

We have realized that AI can expedite and considerably improve quality-controls, decrease wastage through a precise indication of inputs, facilitate production-reuse and perform predictive maintenance. Processes that usually depend on human intervention for data-management can be handled through Computer-Numerical-Control. AI can also be used in algorithms for reading, grouping and interpreting large volumes of textual data. This enables quicker research, data cross-referencing and its sorting into formats easily used in clinical studies.

When an industry progresses, it empowers every country it operates in. As a proud member of an indigenous giant like Cipla, I can only hope that our progress and passion for a reimagined industry gives India an edge in its agenda of making Her fully self-sufficient.

To quote Umang Vohra, MD & Global CEO, Cipla, we envision becoming #VocalforRocal, where besides every capability to meet local demand, we become producers for trans-continental belts. In India, or across the world, #CaringforLife shall always be our foremost priority and consequently advancements in every step to ensure that no matter the situation or how limited the resources, patients always get what they need.

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