By Catherine Duggan

I attended this conference to find out more about the principles of Industry 4.0. I wanted to gain a better understanding of how life science companies can adopt these principles in order to remain more competitive. I also had the opportunity to gain deeper insights into Industry 4.0 during my interview with Mr John Dzelme, Seabrook Technology Group’s Global Chief Operating Officer.

John explained that:

The next revolution in manufacturing is Industry 4.0.
John Dzelme

According to John, currently this revolution is at an evolutionary stage. However it uses advanced technologies in the following processes:

• Product Lifecycle Management (PLM)
• Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES)

During the implementation of these processes, the technology becomes transparent, and the focus is squarely on the product. Data is collected during each phase of manufacturing. This data is then stored digitally in one location. It can be accessed by all involved in the, design, testing, and production of the product. At the moment this does not happen with paper-based systems and retrieval of information can be slow and difficult.

The benefits of digitising information are many, some of which are highlighted below:

• Problems can be identified quickly and accurately, increasing efficiency and reducing costly production downtime
• Solutions can be implemented and easily retrieved in the future when required
• Data can be analysed to pinpoint any blocks in the manufacturing process
• Data can also be analysed to help predict trends and create an environment for innovation
• Provides a competitive edge

Prevention is the best cure to reduce costs in the manufacturing process.
John Dzelme

Although the benefits of Industry 4.0 are many and far reaching, I asked John Dzelme how and when he believed that the Medical Device Manufacturing sector would adopt these principles. He reiterated that Industry 4.0 is at an evolutionary stage, and to think of it as the start of the journey. Some existing businesses as well as start-ups are already incorporating all or some elements into their manufacturing processes. Two examples of very innovative companies adopting these principles now are Dyson and Samsung.

He added that the transition by businesses into Industry 4.0 would require strong leadership skills and education. He said that his organisation, Seabrook Technology Group was in the process of developing workshops to raise awareness about Industry 4.0. He also mentioned that they are committed to sharing their knowledge and partnering with businesses such Siemens, staying close to industry and collaborating with best practice organisations such as MESA.

It’s very clear from the case studies presented during the conference, that Industry 4.0 and digitisation is a reality. Products such as medical devices can now be created, designed, tested and validated in a virtual environment before they even hit the factory floor. In my opinion it’s a must that the manufacturing industry needs to begin their journey towards Industry 4.0 now. In so doing they will become more efficient, cost effective, agile, smart, innovative and keep ahead of the competitive curve.

It seems to me that it’s not just all about processes, technology and digitisation, and changing one system for another. Industry 4.0 is a paradigm shift about how work is done. From my observations I believe it encourages democracy, collaboration, integration, data sharing, collection and prediction. It creates virtual environments to enable innovation and the creation of products and medical devices that we don’t even know about yet.

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