Life Science manufacturing of the future

It may seem awkward to compare pills and vaccines to smartphones, cars, or even airplanes. But actually, the Life Science sector is looking to the electronics, automotive and aerospace sectors for inspiration.
These sectors are frontrunners within Smart Industry, optimizing industrial processes by connecting production lines and plants, and enabling more efficient supply chains and logistics, predictive maintenance, smart services and much more.

Compared to electronics and automotive the Life Science sector is lagging, for several reasons. For one thing, the sector is heavily regulated. For good reasons obviously, to ensure safety and effect of medications and treatments. However, this slows down change and innovation. For industrial processes to change and improve, rules must change, and that takes time.
Also, the pharmaceutical industry consists of a number of very large companies, and compared to for instance start-ups, large companies have a tendency to lose agility, due to size, silo mentality and rigid processes. Consequently, these companies are arriving late at the starting point of their Smart Industry journey.

Based on its extensive experience in the electronics and automotive sectors, and other sectors embracing Smart Industry, Akkodis is helping Life Science companies to adapt new solutions. For instance, harvesting data from machines and thus improving the process of documenting that your production line lives up to all requirements. 
woman working with computer
Engineers at Akkodis are helping local pharmaceutical companies reduce production downtime related to validation and approval: When a production line goes from producing one drug to producing another, it must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, to avoid contamination. Three types of mandatory tests are performed: installation qualification, operation qualification and performance qualification. Utilizing Smart Industry concepts, and leveraging data from the production equipment, the time required for testing is reduced, while still ensuring full compliance with rules and regulations. 
Regulators require manufacturers to document, that they can produce a drug in a consistent, repeatable way, batch after batch. To ensure this, manufacturers perform rigorous tests, for instance installation qualification, operation qualification, and performance qualification tests. But while these tests are undertaken, the product is quarantined for up to 15 days before being allowed to leave the factory. And everything starts over again when the line is converted to produce another product. Smart Industry concepts can help reduce quarantine time by improving and automating documentation processes.
At a specialized production facility in the Netherlands, a global pharmaceutical company is manufacturing small-series medicine. For each new series the setup of the production equipment must be changed. That takes time, and is primarily done by older, experienced technicians with a unique knowledge of the facility. Akkodis gathered this knowledge, structured it, and created a training program for young engineers, using HoloLens technology. This digital instruction solution increases production efficiency and reduces downtime between production runs.
man trying VR


Automating production is a key factor, and Akkodis is working extensively on automation to help the Life Science industry become more efficient. Increasing the robotization of e.g., the packaging of drugs optimizes production. At the same time, it reduces the space needed for production, leaving room for additional production equipment.

This new equipment can be used to produce smaller batches of pharmaceuticals at a reasonable price, thus being able to meet market demands for specific medicine for increasingly smaller target groups.

Akkodis is also bringing several other Smart Industry concepts into play, like going from paper based to paper-less processes, integrating electronic batch record systems, and using simulation software and augmented reality to set up a line for a new product without interfering with ongoing production.
digital display
Traceability is extremely important in the medical sector, and there’s a strong push towards moving from paper-based to paperless tracing. Akkodis has helped a large number of medical companies with electronic tracing and implementation of electronic batch record systems. These systems collect production data related to a specific batch of drugs and enables tracing all the way from the production plant to the patient. This also eliminates the risk of the original product being replaced by unauthorized copy products before it reaches the user.
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