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Tech-driven future of pharma manufacturing

Tech-driven future of pharma manufacturing

November 1, 2023 11:15 am

In a technical interview, Shyam Padwal, Branch Head – Mumbai and Pharmaceutical Expert, B&R Automation, discusses the transformative impact of automation, robotics, and adaptive manufacturing, along with dynamic solutions by B&R.

How are automation and robotics transforming manufacturing by enhancing flexibility, precision, and adaptability in response to industry challenges?
Manufacturing faces day-to-day challenges. However, there’s a significant and ongoing transformation in the industry through the rise of automation. This transformation is not merely a passing trend; it’s a continuous process. With a shortage of skilled labour and a growing consumer demand, intelligent and interconnected automation represents the future of manufacturing. This surge in automation promises to address various issues, ranging from meeting production targets to saving time and enhancing safety for machine users. As robots perform repetitive tasks, manufacturers can redirect their focus toward groundbreaking technologies. This shift enables them to adapt swiftly to the ever-changing business landscape, making them more agile and competitive.

Automation and robots have the potential to deliver unparalleled levels of machine flexibility and precision. Integrating robotics with automation through a single machine control system is a significant development. This integration allows manufacturers to embrace the trend of mass customisation and optimise their processes for one-of-a-kind production runs with ease.

How is automation technology of B&R revolutionising pharmaceutical manufacturing, specifically in robotics integration, and what benefits does this bring to the industry?
Pharmaceutical companies increasingly turn to automation to address manufacturing challenges and are poised for substantial growth. Also, pharma packaging is set to undergo a significant transformation through greater automation and robotics solutions. B&R offers a comprehensive portfolio of solutions, including PLCs, IPCs, IOs, drives, and motors. Furthermore, we have introduced advanced automation products such as mechatronics track systems, machine vision systems including smart lights, and a range of delta robots tailored to meet the specific needs of the pharmaceutical industry. These innovations enable manufacturers to enhance flexibility throughout the entire production and packaging process, ultimately supporting shorter product cycles. Integrating robots into the machine automation system, known as machine-centric robotics, revolutionises the industry by achieving an unparalleled level of synchronisation between robotics and machine control. This eliminates the need for a dedicated controller for the robot, streamlining interfaces between the machine and the robot. All axes and sensors now communicate seamlessly on a common network, enhancing precision to an unprecedented microsecond range.

How is adaptive manufacturing reshaping production processes and addressing key challenges of the pharmaceutical industry?
The new generation of machines, known as adaptive machines, are exceptionally efficient at automating dynamic changes, and they are making significant inroads into the pharmaceutical industry. They result from a constructive collaboration of key technological breakthroughs integrated into a single system. B&R has been globally developing hardware and software solutions for over 40 years. For the past 25 years, it has been a pioneer in the Indian manufacturing sector, providing industrial automation solutions. Our extensive automation expertise, customer-centric approach, and innovative culture position us as the ideal technology partner for adaptive manufacturing in the medical and pharmaceutical industries.

Adaptive manufacturing opens doors to entirely new solutions for challenges. Considering costly cleanroom installations, it is a solution that pays for itself through significant footprint savings. Adaptive manufacturing possesses the ability to produce small batches of medical devices and procedural kits with the same level of efficiency as high-volume production. Products from the B&R portfolio, like the ACOPOStrak, SuperTrak, and ACOPOS 6D systems, provide many distinctive movement possibilities to enhance production processes. Divergent material flows can merge on the fly to form small batches of medical devices or custom kits and packs at full production speed; a central control system with seamless monitoring can orchestrate all of these. This is the future of pharmaceutical manufacturing: adaptive, efficient, and profitable.

Can you tell us how the pharmaceutical industry harnesses advanced technology to improve efficiency and compliance in production processes?
The pharmaceutical industry is utilising the power of AI and collectively scrutinising the data. Pharma manufacturers are integrating digital platforms into their production lines, which are equipped with integrated pharma solutions to help users optimise the performance of their automation systems while simultaneously improving cost and energy efficiency. Multiple control systems for process control, SCADA, energy monitoring, and condition monitoring are bygone. The users now get all this functionality in a single, integrated system with built-in cybersecurity origin specifically designed for pharma industries.

B&R has in its product basket an out-of-the-box solution known as PharmaEdge, which consists of a B&R industrial PC running a hypervisor solution with both Linux and Automation Runtime operating systems. It offers machine and process automation libraries for easy configuration. There are no limitations to internal tags and no incremental costs for additional tags. Built-in features support easy reporting and historical data retrieval. With this one-box solution, users can monitor and control their entire operations. This is the modern application of artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things. PharmaEdge provides a quick and easy way to implement and customise audit trails with quality, regulatory compliance, safety, easy track-and-trace, and efficient data access, all trademarks of a world-class pharmaceutical facility.

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