When discussing digital initiatives, it can sometimes be difficult to find widely-applicable case studies, since every industry is different and has different ways of using Industry 4.0 technology. However, we recently came across a great interview with John Carey, the VP of Sales for ACG Engineering, a provider of pharmaceutical engineering solutions. In it, he discusses how large pharmaceutical companies responded to the challenges of COVID-19, and how digital upgrades and tech changes made their solutions possible.
The nice thing about this interview is that, despite being specific to the pharma industry, it contains a lot of insights which can be generalized to many different fields. These are some of the most important points it hits on, in terms of how any company can make good use of digitization and transformation upgrades.
Important Insights Pharma Companies Had When Implementing Industry 4.0 Initiatives
1. Broad analysis of "TCO" issues makes the financial argument easier
One of the most difficult aspects of pitching digital upgrades is demonstrating their ROI. It's easy for C-level execs to take an "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" attitude when processes seem to already be running well enough.
However, Carey discusses how the companies he worked with took a much broader view of the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of their machines and processes. They didn't only look at initial costs and maintenance, but also dug deeper, into questions such as "how often do these machines under-perform?" and "what are the costs to other areas of business when these machines are down for service?" When taking a broader view of TCO, that makes it easier to justify digital upgrades, since avoiding those sorts of secondary and tertiary costs is one big benefit to Industry 4.0 tech.
2. Digital processes make companies far more agile
This is a basic part of the digital transformation pitch, but pharma's response to COVID-19 is a spectacular demonstration of the principle. Pharmaceutical companies had to simultaneously deal with massive global disruption of trade lines, while also under severe global pressure to produce vaccines as quickly as was safely possible. They were able to succeed with remarkable aplomb. Carey fully credits their successes to the superior communications and collaboration that becomes possible within a digitally-focused ecosystem.
The more complicated and globalized our economy becomes, the more likely it is that we'll see these sort of unexpected global trade disruptions. Companies that upgrade their data-sharing and collaborative abilities will be in a good position to respond quickly to sudden challenges.
3. VR and AR streamline training
Another major challenge pharma companies faced was coordinating training and ongoing education among a broadly distributed workforce, including many workers who were quarantined at home. They found the solution in VR systems. VR allows for (nearly) hands-on training on any machine or operating environment, even situations which would be difficult or dangerous to recreate in real life. At the same time, they were also able to make use of robust virtual simulations to predict the outcomes of trials and experiments, with a minimum of real-world expenditure.
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4. Digital upgrades will continue to expand
Carey sees use of digital upgrade initiatives as only accelerating: "Aligning with market demands and using big data and AI to unlock undiscovered business potential, pharma leaders are quickly leading the digital transformation on all fronts." In other words, having discovered just how effective Industry 4.0 tech is at allowing fast, robust response to challenges while also enabling better workflows, companies are rapidly embracing these new paradigms.
Many other industries would do well to follow their example.
LogicBay Enables Smooth Implementation of Digital Initiatives
Do you see the potential for new digital upgrades to improve your operation, but aren't sure where to begin? Are you trying to implement new processes, but struggle to tie together the many elements that must be fused to allow a smooth transition? LogicBay can help! For over a decade, we've focused on providing tools, software, and consulting that allows businesses to unify their entire ecosystem into a well-oiled and tightly integrated machine.