IIoT, Interviews

Pharma MES Evolution – Interview with Rockwell Automation

Traditional MES in Life Sciences has undoubtedly created great value through moving the compliance reporting from paper to eBR and by shortening the review and release of products by reviewing by exception. So what is next? This talk explores opportunities for continuing the MES value journey with further virtuous cycles of value creation.

we.CONECT: Martin, many industries have faced tremendous challenges over these past months. How has the life science industry been affected by the crisis and what is your outlook on the coming years?

Martin Petrick: The life science industry faced some big challenges: It became clear how vulnerable supply chains are. In the crisis the level of outsourcing and manufacturing in low cost locations caused shortages. Supply chains were disrupted and national interests started affecting movement of and subsequent availability of products. This clearly will require a level of rethinking and subsequent measures to ensure the supply of medicines. There has simultaneously been a rapid need to expand manufacturing of corona related products like respirators, corona test kits and of course building the capacity to make vaccines for the world’s population. Of course the issues faced by other manufacturers like working with fewer people and constraints in getting people to site were also faced. The industry has gotten through all of this pretty well and we have not seen any slowdowns of significance.

we.CONECT: We’re seeing a big push for digital and remote solutions and many new use cases everywhere. With regards to manufacturing IT, do you think pharma and biotech manufacturers are following this trend?

Martin Petrick: We have seen that such technology has been most useful in mastering many covid related problems. Recording how to do tasks, communicating remotely in a show and tell manner is most useful when operators need support, maintainers need assistance etc. We clearly see single use for example pushing the need to manage the logistics of getting parts to the shop floor when needed and managing the assembly and disassembly of SU equipment into the configurations needed. These operations once done at scale cannot be managed in paper systems. Pharma and even more biotech manufacturers need to embrace these new use cases and are beginning to do so.

we.CONECT: Where do you expect the next wave of investments in manufacturing OT/IT?

Martin Petrick: Increasing the level of automation in manufacturing (Quality related activities, Logistics activities), reducing the engineering cost and risk on interfacing modular equipment through pre-validated plug and produce modules, enhanced analytics closing loops that allow optimizing maintenance, availability and quality, Networking applications such that the needs of new stakeholders are addressed that were not met so far.

we.CONECT: Traditional MES in Life Sciences has undoubtedly created great value through moving the compliance reporting from paper to eBR and by shortening the review and release of products by reviewing by exception. So what is next? Where are the next virtuous cycles of value creation?

Martin Petrick: There is no one size fits all answer to this question. There are always next steps for creating value but what to prioritize depends on where a manufacturer is on his MES Value Journey. MES implementations change business processes and the next steps should tackle what would be a priority in terms of value added, can be agreed to by all affected stakeholders, and can be quantified in terms of measuring that it achieves the goals set. There are many next steps that could follow: reducing inventory, focusing on manufacturing bottlenecks and removing them systematically, optimizing workflows etc. Most important would be not to be constrained by the current boundaries of the MES as we know it. Today it is possible to network applications, wrap them and extend what is currently possible.  Once you know what value you are chasing, choosing the technology to implement it with is actually the easier bit .

we.CONECT: Rockwell is a provider on the interface of automation (control level) and MES (planning level). Where do you see synergies of these technologies and systems? Or will IIoT eventually replace MES?

Martin Petrick: Being a supplier of the control level (Automation) and Manufacturing Operations Management (MES) has the advantage that we can be a partner for any next value step in the manufacturing context. We have the products and projects execution expertise, several sales and delivery channels and have a support organization that allows us to be a good partner in any next value step. The value we can help to lift is not limited by the boundaries of MES. At the same time we are not limited to having to work solely with our own product portfolio. While Rockwell Automation can be a one stop provider for the entire manufacturing automation stack we know that the IIoT is much more diverse, generally includes many devices from many suppliers that need to be integrated to orchestrate production effectively. As such we are active in standardization efforts that will make it much simpler and more cost effective to integrate in a “plug and produce” manner. Having the expertise in house that allows addressing all automation problems is very valuable.

IIoT is changing automation. One the one side there is the drive to increase the intelligence of devices, build more modular plants and manage the configuration of modules into production topologies in a “plug and produce” manner, manage production with such a configuration of theses intelligent modules and then reconfigure them as needed for the next campaign of products. The ability to scale down to meet the automation needs of increasingly intelligent modules while being able to effectively manage such equipment with its associated automation over its lifecycle matters. Many of the functions of an MES remain foundational to the orchestration of manufacturing operations. The Process Orchestration Layer of the future will still need all the functions of an MES to manage equipment, people, inventory and quality. This will not move into the intelligent devices.

we.CONECT: Rockwell is a long-standing partner of Pharma MES Berlin. What do you expect the 2020 edition to look like and what do you look forward to most?

Martin Petrick: We will need to get used to the more virtual from of the event this year. This can actually have advantages in the sense that the access to the event is less constrained by space and time. I look forward most to the contact with stakeholders in the industry and the exchange of ideas

Do you want to learn more from more pharma expert speakers?  Join in on the sessions on
MES deployment, updates on regulatory compliance, MES Delivery Model, lean manufacturing, operational excellence, E2E data integration
and many more this October 01 -02, 2020 at Pharma MES Berlin. Sign up now and you will meet the leading community of pharmaceutical decision-makers for the event’s 9th anniversary!

Click below to view the event agenda and save your seat now!

01 – 02 October | Titanic Chaussee, Berlin, Germany