Industry 4.0: The Digital Transformation of Biomanufacturing



Empowering the biomanufacturing industry to transition to Industry 4.0

The dawn of industrial revolutions has significantly revolutionized the manufacturing processes. These revolutions lowered process variability caused by humans and led to the adoption of automation and digital technologies to improve productivity. The biomanufacturing industry is now showing interest to make the transition to the fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0) to upgrade its production processes. This industrial revolution could bring immense benefits to bioprocessing using technologies like AI, automation, and machine learning.

Transitioning to Industry 4.0 operations can enable biomanufacturing companies to improve productivity through information-driven automation. It can also develop infrastructure and introduce more advanced monitoring and control strategies. While Industry 4.0 is about leveraging advanced technology and building tools that use and interpret data from various systems, the digital transformation of biomanufacturing is possible by scrutinizing the performance of processes and workflows to determine where improvements can be made.

Automation is one of the most fourth industrial revolution technologies making the improvements biopharmaceutical manufacturing needs, such as increased efficiency and capacity, as well as high product quality. Big data is another trademark of this latest revolution, processing large sets of data collected by sensors and process analytical technologies. In biomanufacturing, data can be used to develop an understanding of processes and improve process parameters. It can also be utilized to ensure quality and regulatory compliance. Using historical and real-time data to envisage future outcomes can help companies to be proactive as opposed to reactive. Doing so, they can comprehend the happenings in a process and foresee what will happen when variations occur.


Towards Smart Biomanufacturing

Automating and appropriately controlling bioprocesses in an optimal state is a crucial aspect for biomanufacturing companies. This lessens or maintains the production costs and boosts yields, while keeping the uniformity of product quality. Once biomanufacturers automate individual processes, they could transform entire operations using Industry 4.0 technology. This will enable the transition from batch to continuous processing and substantially improve productivity while saving capital on manual labor.

Digital twins are also effective technology in biopharmaceutical manufacturing. As noted by BioPharm, Billy Sisk, Life Sciences industry leader at Rockwell Automation said that digital twins are being used to predict maintenance and downtime more accurately; plan for process improvements, such as the replacement of components; and prepare alternative plans in case of malfunctions or disturbances, all without interrupting manufacturing. Pharmaceutical company Sanofi, for instance, brings digital transformation to its biopharmaceutical manufacturing facilities. Each of the company’s digital plants announced to have a digital twin connected directly to the sensors and data in the physical plant.

Moreover, with a surged focus on Industry 4.0, the biomanufacturing industry is undergoing a major shift. Growth in recent years in biopharmaceutical innovation has brought new possibilities in patient care as well as challenges in manufacturing, Last year, North Carolina State University led a new 5-year project to sponsor an international collaborative research and training program in biomanufacturing science and technology. This effort is focused on the next generation of biopharmaceutical manufacturing critical to grant global access to powerful new biotherapeutics for treating a wide range of chronic and potentially lethal diseases.