The pandemic era has shown us the importance of doctors, sciences, medicines, and pharmacists in our daily lives. Especially when it comes to medicines. We all had craved for corona vaccines and drugs to relieve its symptoms. There is no second doubt that medicines are the soul of the globe.
And the pharmaceutical sector is the soul of medicines. The pharmaceutical sector is responsible for manufacturing of several drugs and medicines. It is one of the most leading and progressive economic and social activities.
According to RBI reports, the net contribution of pharmacy in Indian GDP is 2% and 8% of the country’s total merchandise exports. Though since a long time, this sector has followed traditional approaches and methods but in recent decades the pharmaceutical sector has evolved marvelously.
The sector has employed AI techniques, ML algorithms, and IoT in its evolution process. In this blog, we will see the role of IoT in pharmaceutical manufacturing.
Also Read | IoT in Manufacturing
Pharmaceutical Manufacturing and IoT
As the term suggests, pharmaceutical manufacturing is a large-scale manufacturing and producing scale. It refers to the industrial scale synthesis process of pharmaceutical drugs.
The industries which are involved in this process are called pharmaceutical industries. The entire process of pharmaceutical manufacturing is divided into unit operations. For example, milling, granulation, coating, tablet pressing, packaging and dispensing.
What does the pharmaceutical industry manufacture?
Pharmaceutical industry manufactures different types of goods such as tablets, capsules, APIs, vaccines, medications and drugs for different diseases.
IoT is expanded as the Internet of Things. It is a process of embedding the internet to computers, machinery and digital devices. The devices are provided with unique identifiers and have the ability to transfer data over a network.
The basic advantage of IoT is that it doesn’t require human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction to fulfill any intermediate process. Currently, different organizations and sectors are employing IoT techniques in their process to operate more efficiently.
Working of IoT
An IoT network includes web-enabled smart devices that use embedded hardware such as sensors, processors and other systems. These devices help to collect, send and act on data.
IoT devices connect through an IoT gateway and share the data collected by sensors to the cloud or wherever to the targeted location. Humans are required in this process just to feed instructions; the rest of the process happens without any human intervention.
Latest IoT technologies
The list of emerging and latest IoT technologies include the following 5G technology, Blockchain, Cybersecurity, Digital twins, Voice activated digital applications, and Edge computing.
Applications of IoT in Pharmaceutical Manufacturing
Applications of IoT in Pharmaceutical Manufacturing
IoT in the pharmaceutical sector is a revolutionary fighter. It aids pharmaceutical manufacturing, warehousing, packaging and supply chain management. IoT helps in enhancing the quality of product, reducing the errors in it, and increasing the productivity of pharmaceuticals.
From the initial to the intermediate process, IoT aids the different activities of pharmaceutical industries. It supervises the different unit operations, monitors real-time data, enhances product efficiency, and improves visibility to enhance operational effectiveness.
From helping the pharmaceutical employees to plan their daily work programs to helping them with the knowledge of drugs and active ingredients. The Internet of Things has assisted the whole section of pharma.
Even modern pharmacists rely on Information Technology (IT) and IoT for their practice. With advances in technology in the R & D sector, the pharmaceutical industry has switched itself to technology-based frameworks.
Important sectors where IoT and IT have influenced the pharmaceutical manufacturing and pharma plant are as follows:
IoT helps in improving industrial machines and mechanics. The pharma IoT monitoring sensors help in monitoring machines and feed all relevant facility data into a single dashboard.
By observing it alerts the supervisors about the abnormal conditions and the necessary maintenance requirements. They also connect the automatic shut offs and handle critical conditions related to mechanics.
Another advantage of IoT in pharmaceuticals is material tracking. IoT connects the devices to the internet and network, the connected devices can easily track the availability of materials in real-time. It assists better inventory controls and reduces the cost by controlling the waste generation.
The sensors help in tracking the source of supplies. It maintains the quality and speed of production. The sensors and data-gathering devices are located in shipping and receiving stations. It collects the information from RFID tags and barcodes.
It correlates the information from multiple locations. It focuses on production and warehouse facilities to verify if the data is consistent or not.
These tracking aware the manufacturers about the market need and when restocking is required. This further helps in maintaining supplies at appropriate levels by reducing the need to stock extra supplies and risk of supplies running out at the critical times.
Also Read | Supply Chain Management
After the manufacturing of the products, the pharmaceutical industry transports the final goods from the manufacturing area to the market. Here also sensors are fitted that track the finished products and supply chain.
The internet embedded computers help in identifying the batch. IoT helps in checking the expiring date of the product, if by chance any batch is recalled from the market, the traveling devices make it easier to locate the batch. Thus, removing the same from the supply chain becomes easier.
Optimize the Clinical Trials
Before manufacturing or producing any new drugs in the market, the drug has to undergo several trial phases. Clinical trials are also managed by IoT connected devices. IoT techniques help in monitoring the effects of experimental medication in real-time management.
This real-time access of data helps in quicker identification of adverse reactions and related risk. At the same time, it helps in improving the quality of the test data. IoT devices gather the data from the network and transmit it to the integrated software.
This process helps in identifying the patient’s conditions and issue alerts. Thus, enhancing the entire process of clinical trials and easing the R & D sector of the company.
Also Read | How are Digital Technologies used in Clinical Trials?
From a small to large, all scale pharmaceutical processes are required to be well-established and well-documented. IoT connected devices continuously send data to the servers.
This real-time data is maintained at the end and analyzed later to check if it met the quality standards. This also reduces the amount of manual paperwork and risk of errors.
Another application of IoT in the pharma sector is smart wearable equipment and dedicated mobile apps. These devices encourage patient adherence and incentivize.
In earlier times, the medical crisis of a patient is detected after so long, sometimes, during final stages. But IoT by real-time monitoring of data detect the early signs of a serious medical event.
By keeping an analytical record of these devices, the doctors and representatives of pharmaceutical companies are able to understand the situation of the majority of the population and thus, estimating the major drug required in the market.
Smart pills and implanted devices
Smart pills are the tiny pills, basically the latest invention of pharmacy science. Implanted devices are the devices that are injected into the patient’s body.
They help in detecting even the smallest change in the patient’s body. This helps in preventing the serious threats and risks.
The real-time data collected by the IoT connected devices can be sent to a data analytics software. This helps in analyzing the data in a rich way. The data analytics software helps in identifying the weaker area of the field and the most efficient too.
By pinpointing the inefficiencies, IoT indirectly helps in improving the overall pharmaceutical process by boosting productivity and profitability.
Better Physician Engagement
By putting a virtual representative on every desk, IoT helps the pharmaceutical industries to manage a better and more secure connection with the physicians. This healthy engagement with physicians helps in saving valuable time and provides customizable actions.
Physician interaction helps in analysing the effective and significant drug characteristics and properties. Physician always have a better idea related to patient interaction with drugs.
Also Read | What is the Internet of Bodies?
Thus, from preventative maintenance to supply control, IoT is easing every branch of pharmacy. If we keep pharmaceutical manufacturing aside, IoT with benefits like e-prescription, online doctor consultants, advanced therapies and treatment has improved medical science too.
In the coming years, it is not wrong to expect IoT to cover up all the traditional limitations and drawbacks of the pharma sector and help it to mark its zenith.