Three steps to a faster, better manufacturing system for the pharmaceutical industry

Assisted reality solutions are being used to help streamline laboratory workflows while maintaining regulatory compliance

Have you ever wondered how pharmaceutical companies could develop and produce COVID-19 vaccines so quickly? Here’s how.

Vaccines have traditionally taken many, many years to develop and manufacture. That’s not necessarily down to the complexity involved, but more down to the incredibly stringent regulations placed upon the pharmaceutical industry. One incorrect calculation in a recipe for a batch of drugs could result in major delays and wasted product. As a result, this vast amount of red tape forces the industry to develop medicines at an incredibly high standard, however, the process involved is achingly slow.

When COVID-19 hit, the virus spread rapidly. As millions of people were affected, with many dying and filling hospitals to capacity, time was no longer a luxury that the industry could afford. A solution was needed, one that could be developed with high reliability and quality with greater speed than the industry was accustomed to. 

The pandemic has forced a transformation for the Life Sciences industry unlike anything they’ve seen before, as companies raced to manufacture complex vaccines at faster speeds. Many of these companies met the challenge head-on by using innovative methods to deliver scientific breakthroughs. Yet many understandably remained hesitant to adopt new, somewhat unfamiliar technology.  Many stuck with their outdated and laborious methods, which made processes advance at a snail-like pace. . Conversely, manufacturers with an eye toward innovation used modern solutions to get the best of both worlds – high quality medicine in a fraction of the time, all while adhering to strict compliance regulations. What has become clear is that the integration of people and advanced technology will be vital for the industry to move toward long-term change.  

Increasing the speed and upping the Tempo, with Apprentice

RealWear partner Apprentice.io is one company dedicated to driving the pharmaceutical industry towards technological transformation and helping pre-clinical, clinical, and commercial manufacturers adopt the latest tools. The company has developed a manufacturing execution system (MES) that is natively integrated with the RealWear Navigator® 500 by bringing aR capabilities to the head-mounted device, The system is part of the Tempo Manufacturing Cloud – an end-to-end, cloud-based platform that also includes a Laboratory Execution System, Augmented Work Instructions, and a virtual collaboration product called Tandem.

Apprentice.io is showing companies of all sizes what’s possible when technology like assisted reality is customized for the industry, easily adoptable, and built to support team members across the drug development lifecycle. Apprentice is showing the world’s leading pharma organizations how to increase speed and maximize supply using modern manufacturing technology that replaces inflexible, outdated legacy systems and resource-draining paper-based processes. 

What are the three steps that will improve the life sciences and pharmaceutical industries?

Based on experience with customers across the life sciences industry, RealWear and Apprentice.io have identified three best practices that are key to successfully implementing a strategy for modern manufacturing execution systems:

Step one: Find a valuable use case with a team that has an obvious pain point

Look for a team within your organization that has an issue that could be alleviated with Assisted Reality tech.Is the team looking to stop operator error and prevent batch deviations? Is it looking for enhanced communication across global sites? Whatever it is, pilot the solution then measure and monitor its success with ROI and team feedback. 

Step two: Apply the solution to other pain points
Once the value of that use case has been measured and the potential ROI has been identified, companies can expand the use case applications to improve additional unit processes within the same team or identify additional teams with similar pain points that can benefit from the technology. It’s all about controlled expansion at this stage.

Step three: Rollout and scale

The final phase involves scaling out and scaling up for full company implementation, with a rollout of the technology and tools throughout the drug development lifecycle. This includes providing the same technology to teams and sites around the world, ensuring a seamless integration process and enabling easy sharing of real-time data.

Let’s see the steps applied

Consider the case of one Apprentice.io customer that also happens to be the world’s third-largest biotech company:  

The Challenge
The biotech company, which specializes in rare and serious diseases and influenza prevention, uses pilot plants to test manufacturing processes on a small scale. The company was looking to upgrade its technology after decades of using manual methods to track data in its labs. 

The Solution

The company kicked off a six-month pilot program with Apprentice.io to explore alternatives to paper-based batch records, standard operating procedures, and work instructions. When integrated with lab facilities, Apprentice.io’s software development platform and RealWear’s integrated HMD provided on-the spot feedback, process directives, and problem-solving techniques in real time. The company was able to replace paper records and calculations that would otherwise have been cross-checked manually by multiple employees with automated formulas, ranges, and barcoding. If results didn’t match, the Tempo system flagged it to the operator, saving time and ensuring compliance.

The future

Colleagues at different sites are now also able to share data and see what’s happening in real time. The company plans to expand the technology to other facilities in Australia and the United States.

Applied properly, these steps can revolutionize processes within the industry, speeding up the production process of high-quality medicines, all while remaining compliant. With the current climate demanding speed and accuracy, legacy methods are outdated, and their users are being left behind.

To learn more about how assisted reality devices such as the RealWear Navigator 500 are being utilized in the life sciences industry along with more tips for successfully deploying a test case in your facility in our white paper, “Equipping the Life Sciences Industry for the Next Generation of Pharmaceutical Breakthroughs.”

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