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Manufacturing Industry Updates

4 Ways Life Sciences Manufacturing Needs to Change Post-COVID-19

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Social distancing requirements to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, and the associated supply chain disruptions, have meant rapid and sudden challenges to life sciences manufacturing, according to an article in the European Pharmaceutical Manufacturer.

Following and documenting good manufacturing practices and proper manufacturing protocols is mandatory for life science manufacturers, the article states. Here are 4 ways digital tools and processes can meet manufacturers’ emerging needs:

  1. Remote production support — Pandemic-related shutdowns have caused some manufacturers to reduce their on-site support staff by as much as 75%. Critical workers such as hands-on technical staff, are being trained to undertake verification and data gathering tasks differently to allow strictly clerical employees to work remotely. The larger, more long-term challenge is fully digitizing the batch records that follow each production lot through each stage of the manufacturing process.
  2. Remote, distributed acceptance testing — Factory acceptance tests of new production equipment was traditionally done in situ at the manufacturer by members of the customer’s staff. Today, manufacturers are moving to virtual factory acceptance tests using video links, virtual documentation and even AR and VR technologies. These virtual factory acceptance tests will need to provide for rapid, seamless execution of the tests, but also for the associated workflows, audit and verification procedures that assure regulatory compliance.
  3. Revised on-site protocols/work layouts — Thermal cameras can be used to flag employees with higher than normal temperatures, denying them entry or requiring further testing. Cameras and facial recognition can alert managers to workers who are not properly distancing or not wearing a face mask. Bluetooth-enabled wristbands can buzz or flash when the wearer comes too close to another worker.
  4. Localized, resilient supply chains — Manufacturers are reconfiguring supply chains to prioritize resiliency over efficiency and moving sourcing and production closer to the consumer. To do this, manufacturers will need to move from centrally located procurement to giving site managers more visibility into and control over their immediate supply chains.
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