Manufacturing Problems Pharmaceutical Automation Can Help Solve
Pharmaceutical automation is and always will be high on the agenda with pharmaceutical manufacturing. As you are reading this, you will have likely seen, read, or used some aspects of automation.
Pharmaceuticals are a large part of the UK health system. Several challenges have slowed production and distribution, affecting the growth of many companies and also supply chains. Luckily, there are many solutions that you can start implementing today to streamline your production.
Many companies are underutilising its myriad of benefits, and with the addition of artificial technology which reduces human error and improves efficiency, it isn’t the end of human labour but rather the start of innovative solutions. In our complete guide, we are going to discuss the top eight benefits of pharmaceutical automation and how they solve today’s current industry problems.
In the pharmaceutical industry, there are complex levels of manufacturing that face strict health and quality assurance guidelines. To become successful in pharmaceutical manufacturing, you need:
- Inspection machines
- Laboratory products
- Capsule filling
- Compounding operations
- And more
Nearly every part of the pharmaceutical process has the capability of full automation. This growing sector is projected to reach GBP 6.63 billion in 2027, with an 8.35% projected growth rate.
There may be some hesitancy around using robots and automation for manufacturing processing due to high capital outlays and flexibility, but it has become critical that your company transition to automation and remain a competitor.
Unique Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Problems
When looking at automation in pharmaceutical manufacturing solutions, you have to dive into the problems first. Almost every industry is going through labour shortages or difficulties with employee retention.
The pharmaceutical industry is no exception. However, there are several other factors inhibiting production currently, including:
- Reduced pharmaceutical demand
- Demand for customisation of products
- Increased competition
- Health care fraud
- Brand health
- Data breaches
- Supply chain disruptions
The global supply chain crisis is one major issue. It has halted many manufacturing and transport processes. Yet, there is a silver lining.
Most companies who have weathered the storm so far appear to be in it for the long haul. Pharmaceuticals are a critical component of the UK’s health system.
In 2019, 19% of the UK population was over 65. By 2043, that number is expected to jump to 24%.
An ageing UK population has several implications, meaning more healthcare jobs and the need for pharmaceuticals. As demand grows, businesses must be able to keep up with pharmaceutical manufacturing demand
What Can Pharmaceutical Automation Companies Help With?
Pharmaceutical automation can help with multiple processing segments using a range of technologies, including:
- Production line control
There are various robotic systems that can adapt to unique pharma needs. The benefit of choosing a qualified company is that you can also order specialised machinery.
These machines are tailored to your company’s needs. They can perform various tasks, reducing labour costs and time. Let’s dive into more about automation in pharmaceutical manufacturing.
Improving Your Cleanroom
As you know, manufacturing requires controlled environments. While humans are necessary for production and manufacturing, they bring with them many pollutants and risks.
To ensure a quality-controlled cleanroom, you need a space with no contamination or infiltration. Unfortunately, not all cleanrooms meet these strict levels of decontamination. Classification systems vary by country and help measure the number of particles circulating in the cleanroom space.
Automating production warehouse and cleanroom needs helps with controlling the environment. It reduces the need for manual labour and prevents accidental contamination.
Numerous labour strikes and worker shortages have pushed the United Kingdom into a frenzy. Labour is the pitfall of a functioning manufacturing company. The solution?
Automated robotics reduces the number of workers needed. It also decreases the risk of injury on the job or replacing workers during lunch breaks. You will have an increase in production at a much lower cost.
Even though investments are higher, you should recover your losses in minimal time.
Improved Quality Assurance
Human error can result in hefty fines and poor quality standards. These costly errors add up quickly and can ruin your company’s reputation. In the pharmaceutical industry, there is little room for error.
Switching to robotics reduces worker burnout and error. Since production needs are high and constantly changing, you need a scalable system. Robotics provides consistent manufacturing and processing at any hour of the day.
Eliminating Dangerous Environments
As more companies search for workers, they might have difficulty convincing someone to step into a dangerous environment. Even with proper safety protocols, several financial and physical risks are involved.
Pharmaceutical industries pose a risk of overuse injuries. However, workers may also be expected to work in conditions with chemical exposure risks.
Some of the risks of chemical exposure are asthma, dermatitis, or cancer. Technicians and chemical plant workers are two of the highest employments at risk. Automated pharmaceutical manufacturing reduces that burden and allows robots to work independently in high-exposure areas.
Machine Vision Technology
Another primary benefit of using automated machines is its adapting technology. Innovative technology like machine vision can tremendously help production lines. Here are some of the machine vision benefits:
- Reduced cost of production
- Increase customer satisfaction
- Reduced waste
- Improved batch integrity
- Reduced batch mixing
In pharmaceutical manufacturing, it is essential that your products do not contain impurities. Even small impurities that bypass regulations can have detrimental consequences.
For example, nearly 32% of FDA-approved novel drugs had safety concerns. Many of these are from impurities missed during production and manufacturing. Along with losses in revenue, these issues can completely put a business out.
Cobots vs Robots
If you are apprehensive about making the switch to automation, there are flexible options out there. Robots are solely designed to work independently. They do not need human assistance and can remove the need for operatives to carry out dull. Dirty and often dangerous roles.
Any piece of automation normally requires the implication of safety, and for that reason, they are typically surrounded by cages or fences. They have an automated workstation you can control from a distance or in a secure area.
Cobots function a bit differently. Their unique design allows them to work directly with humans. By using a cooperative work environment, cobots can still carry out several automated tasks.
They will assist with precise assembly or quality control tasks. In some cases, robots could hand products to humans. The benefit of using cobots are:
- Improved handling of riskier tasks
- Handles more laborious tasks
- May not need enclosed guarding
- Responds to simple touches
- Reduces human error
- Simple to program and reconfigure
- Easily transferred to carry out other tasks
You can use cobots nearly everywhere. Additionally, since they are more flexible in their design, they are also teachable. Cobots can learn on the go, usually from their human counterparts.
While it has already been hinted at, robotics drastically improve productivity and you can have robots working 24/7.
Many employees may have the training to complete complex and repetitive tasks, but their precision and focus decrease throughout the workday. Research shows that employees who focus on more than one task are 40% less productive.
Robots offer full attention to their task and perform them more accurately and quickly than you would with regular staff members.
Robotics Works for Small Businesses
Robotics is a flexible and dynamic field. You can automate almost every process or a few high-risk ones. You can choose customisable robots for complex manufacturing processes or opt for cobots, or indeed a special purpose machine
Between 2022 and 2027, experts predict the pharmaceutical industry in the UK will continue expanding and in the past ten years, small biotech start-up companies have contributed to the expansion.
Robotics gives small businesses an edge in a very competitive field. Additionally, it is more cost-effective than you may think and can offer quick returns on investments.
Why Is Automation Growth Slow in Pharmaceutical Manufacturing?
Now that you know of several automation benefits, you may wonder why growth is slow. Pharmaceutical automation has shown it can boost manufacturing processes, safety, and efficiency. It can avoid pharmaceutical production delays and scale your business.
Most of its slow growth is due to regulatory guidelines. Using these devices in the pharmaceutical field requires strict adherence to government regulations. One way to mitigate this problem is using reliable and certified pharmaceutical automation companies.
These industries can walk you through the process, regulations, and paperwork needed.
The Future of Automation
Automation and “Smart Factory” are here to stay and grow and can help create jobs as opposed to overcoming human use. There are several affordable and flexible robotic uses that collaborate with humans to help your organisation grow and become more efficient
Advances in cobot arms allow humans the capacity to improve efficiency and develop new and innovative ways to improve the pharmaceutical industry whilst automating stock and processing allows for unique manufacturing processes to take place.
It also controls small, large, or complex batches. Newer machines are also developing flexibility and learning on the go, making them a scalable and flexible option for future advancements.
Improve Your Pharmaceutical Automation
Pharmaceutical automation is the future of health care. Manufacturing processes are often held up by workers. This can result in errors, impurities, or reduced productivity.
Robots can help your company boost efficiency and safety. Choosing a qualified business to assist you in the next step is the most critical part.
At SP Automation and Robotics, we help industries adopt automated manufacturing processes, including pharmaceutical automation. To get started, give us a call, and see how we can help your business advance into the future of technology.
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