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IoT in Life Sciences Manufacturing and Maintenance: Connecting the Dots for better Patient Outcomes

Life sciences companies have an extremely high responsibility to make sure that they bring to market drugs and medical devices:  they need to be safe, high quality and efficacious. For manufacturing organizations in life sciences, this means they need to focus on risk, quality, and time to market. The Internet of Things (IoT) brings new opportunities for life sciences companies to achieve that.

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Photo credit: “Connected” by Michael Josh Villanueva, Jan 2, 2010 on flickr

High quality, high productivity, speed – the IoT makes it all possible

The IoT enables direct machine-to-machine interactions, it can provide real-time detailed insights through sensors, and consequently facilitate remote tracking, monitoring, management and networking. Because of this, the IoT can improve speed and precision of production planning. Direct real time information from product components, batches and machines enables the use of predictive analytics tools to foresee and proactively mitigate quality risk.  Similarly, sensor data from machines can trigger insights that can be used to maintain the assets before any failures occur sooner rather than later. All this helps life sciences companies secure patient safety and fulfill their needs timely and efficiently.

Enabling personalized medicine

The most exciting aspect is that the IoT enables efficient manufacturing processes for products used in personalized medicine. The IoT allows plants to produce batch sizes of one, since parts or batches can communicate directly with machines, which then interact with software that concludes the next work orders from this information that the machine directly applies. This video illustrates how it works.

Stronger patient-centricity for medical device companies

For medical device companies, the IoT can increase customer-centricity around customer service and of the product itself. They mostly deal with products that are not only at very high value, but also impact patients’ health. Because medical devices are often used long term, the patient experience with these products should be leading edge. Continuous signals from these devices can be monitored in order to anticipate maintenance needs, proactively initiate processes for service technicians, and/or alert the doctors to act on time before any issues occur. All this sensor information can go back to the manufacturer, which can further help to improve manufacturing processes or to develop a more customer-friendly design. Before, neither the depth and quantity of data nor the technology to deal with Big Data were available to draw these kinds of conclusions.

Not only from a pure product quality point of view, the IoT has great potential for the life sciences industry. It can also improve therapies, the patient experience, and doctor to patient collaboration. Through wearables, body traits can be measured constantly, which enables patients to control their health better, and physicians to adapt therapies according to the patients exact condition. Roche Diagnostics Accu-Chek is one example that points in this direction.

The ability to connect machines, people and processes in real time boosts collaboration like never before. Combined with predictive analytics tools that are able to handle Big Data and to separate valuable pieces of information from the noise, IoT will bring completely new opportunities beyond  saving time and increased precision; time will tell!

If you want to discuss with us how SAP solutions can help Life Sciences companies make IoT a reality and benefit from its opportunity today, attend the SAP Manufacturing Industries Forum June 23-25, 2015 in Lombard, IL, USA. View the event brochure to learn more.

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