Technology offering the ability to optimise conditions inside buildings is helping the pharmaceutical industry meet a range of challenges, says Adam Chapman, Europe sales director for life sciences at Honeywell Building Solutions.
The demand for new drugs is growing, mainly as a result of improved life expectancy, which is fundamentally transforming the population balance. In 2018, 19% of the European Union’s citizens were 65 or over; this is predicted to rise to 29.1% (151 million individuals) by 2080, according to EU statistics.
This age group is the most likely to experience chronic illnesses, creating budget problems for governments and healthcare providers. As a result, there are increasing price pressures on the pharmaceutical industry. To address these the sector is investing in digital innovations, including Pharma 4.0.
Smart buildings and data analytics
The built environment is getting smart – the use of internet of things connectivity, combined with the latest data analytics, is starting to revolutionise how pharma businesses operate. The tools at the heart of Pharma 4.0 offer users a range of advantages. These include the ability to remotely check and control environmental parameters critical for drug quality and the safety of patients, such as temperature and humidity. They allow inventory to be managed more accurately through complex supply chains, allowing a reduction of up to 75% in inventory holdings.
They help to identify manufacturing efficiencies in centralised systems, improve the physical security of buildings and track inventory movements to help prevent loss and the substitution of counterfeit drugs. And they provide critical data, such as production yields, when and where it’s needed.
Some of these benefits are more obvious than others. For example, one vital area that can be easily overlooked is environmental control, including air conditioning systems, which has two significant advantages.
Diagnosis and cure
First, drug development and manufacture need to take place in carefully controlled environments to promote their efficacy; any deviation could result in lost production and revenue. A properly maintained and comfortable working environment can improve staff productivity and wellbeing, which can help retain talent. Studies show that when a working environment is above optimum temperature there is a reduction in performance of up to 6%.
Second, a fully integrated building solution can help identify infrastructure issues before they become problems, turning reactive maintenance into prevention.
The latest building technology provides a range of smart insights, such as monitoring occupancy levels of conference rooms to optimise their use, switching off lights in empty parts of building, and optimising heating and ventilation. The result is that next generation building systems are fundamentally changing how employees interact with their building services.
Planning for the future
The pharmaceutical industry is a large energy consumer, which affects two key priorities: controlling operational costs and meeting corporate social responsibility strategies.
Dr Reddy’s, an Indian multinational company, set a clear objective of achieving a 5% year-on-year energy saving with a 40% overall reduction by 2020. In partnership with Honeywell, the company was able to identify a range of energy conservation measures, including environmental controls, to support this objective. Honeywell guaranteed the savings as part of an energy performance contract.
Given the pressures faced by the pharma industry, these types of benefits are essential to maintaining bottom line performance. However, not all smart building solutions are the same. In order to allow pharma companies to extract the maximum possible benefits, they need to work side by side with a trusted supplier that can help implement flexible, cost-effective, scalable systems that can seamlessly integrate with existing IT infrastructure.