Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of small or large physical objects with sensors that monitor and collect data in real time. The physical objects ranging from heavy machinery to smartphones & wearable devices, to vehicles, and appliances. IoT allows these objects to connect & communicate seamlessly, be sensed and/or controlled remotely across network systems, share data with one another or with a central system through the Internet. Hence, by digitizing the data & processes, and optimizing critical functions (such as manufacturing and supply chain management), one can achieve improved accuracy & efficiency, reduced human intervention, and enhanced security.
The pharmaceutical industry is one of the most regulated manufacturing industry, demanding stringent quality checks and regulatory compliance to ensure drug safety. There are numerous areas in pharma manufacturing and supply chain management where IoT could be applied:
- Clearing bottlenecks in the supply chain,
- Ensuring efficient GMP/GDP,
- Increasing regulatory compliance,
- Reducing time-to-market for pharmaceutical products,
- Avoiding unexpected production downtime,
- Reducing operational costs,
- Improving product tracking,
- Reducing overage & waste, etc.
It is estimated that about 30% of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies have adopted IoT technologies for manufacturing processes in some form. IIoT not only helps achieve improved performance and efficiency but also captures data in real-time and links complex equipment and processes, thereby, providing previously unknown insight into the manufacturing process. This could be helpful in individualized small-scale production by providing a clearer understanding of the processes, improved Quality by Design (QbD), and maintaining the same regulatory compliance across multiple batches. Moreover, a deeper understanding of the manufacturing processes will result in increased drug safety and greater adherence to the strict regulatory parameters that direct these processes.
Owing to these factors, the Internet of Things could indeed revolutionize the pharmaceutical industry in unfathomable ways!
Author: Sumant Kumar