Skip to Content
Business Trends
Author's profile photo Christoph Roller

Industry 4.0 for Life Sciences Industry Part 1

SAP‘s Industry 4.0 strategy has the focus to help companies start now with Industry 4.0 initiatives to elevate their manufacturing and the full product experience process to a new level. SAP helps companies to connect the digital representation (digital twin) and the physical assets (machines) to enable manufacturing automation and business process execution.

Industry 4.0 can be defined as the next phase in the digitalization of the manufacturing sector, which is inspired by the computational power and connectivity, current rise in data volumes, and new forms of human-machine interaction like touch interfaces and augmented reality systems.

Changing demands require life sciences companies to adapt, as the industry is moving toward a value-based model where patients are becoming more proactive and focused on wellness and prevention. In the experience economy, life sciences companies must reimagine their business, leveraging customer experience and operational data to face disruptive competition, patent expiries, and margin erosion. Life Sciences companies can use Industry 4.0 technologies to elevate their manufacturing and the full product experience processing to a new level.

As an innovative Industry 4.0 technologies example, the Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-Cell (CART) Therapy shall be mentioned in this context which is dealing with Patient-Centric Targeted Treatment Therapy Management providing the ability to personalize patient treatment.

This E2E scenario embraces an entirely new, innovative bio-medical technology. With a patient-centric approach, treatment is customized for a single patient (a lot size of one). Due to a short shelf-life, treatments cannot be planned and produced in advance. SAP solutions allow you to manufacture “make-to-order” treatments in real-time compared to common make-to-stock, with chain-of-custody tracking. Cold chain logistics supports inbound and outbound materials in the supply chain with careful temperature-controlled handling, and it includes capabilities for batch tracking.

Approximately 7 years ago, Industry 4.0 was launched as a concept to help companies to adapt new technologies, today (according to IBM) unplanned downtime can be dropped by 15%, in contrast to that, 70% still aren’t gaining a competitive advantage by driving innovation and profitable growth (according to Accenture), and only 14% of the nearly 90 life sciences partnerships have a clear therapeutic area of focus (according to Ernst & Young). Moreover, it is estimated that Industry 4.0 can bring annual efficiency improvements between 6-8% and an enhanced productivity where manufacturing industry can cut downtime by up to 50% with smarter facility solutions.

Leading Life Sciences Companies pursue 4 strategic themes

To tap the full value potential and to meet the challenging market and business demands, life sciences companies should start investing in Industry 4.0. SAP believes that Industry 4.0 is driven by four themes providing distinct value to the business:

Intelligent Products, as the name implies has advanced capabilities, is often individualized, high performance and has high quality. Intelligent Products are perceived as differentiator against the competition. Companies who manage to deal with the increasing complexity that comes along with the design and built of intelligent products and who can deliver them with a short term to market are the winners of tomorrow. Handling these products in the different lines of business and leveraging the advanced capabilities of these products require special IT capabilities.

Life Sciences companies are seeing demand from their customers to provide high performance and high-quality products while at the same time trying to meet specific needs coming from individual customers.

In order to do this, these companies are leveraging data from across the entire product lifecycle to improve quality. By doing this they can relying on digital services to deliver outcome-based business models to their customers. This requires an environment that welcomes collaboration and open co-innovation.

  • To deliver Intelligent Products, companies take strategic investments, to:
  • Create adaptive, seamless engineering & manufacturing processes to manage product complexity and quickly react on changing demands
  • Leverage data across the entire product lifecycle to improve quality

Intelligent Factories. Those are required to deliver mass-produced, individualized products at scale.

  • An intelligent factory is also able to quickly react on changing demands and unforeseen events. Intelligent factories use data and intelligence to run as autonomously as possible and deliver customized products at scale
  • By leveraging smart machines and real time data to run autonomous, fast and cost efficient, production supply and manufacturing gets fully automated
  • Usual factories evolve to smart factories

Life Sciences customers are seeing a need to make efficient use of materials and energy while still producing at a high quality. They are also forced to react quickly to changing demands and unforeseen events. Life Sciences companies are doing this by using intelligent data analytics for optimizing their production and horizontally integrating production with supply and demand chains.

A smart factory is agile and adaptable and will support different production scenarios. It is also elastic, able to deal with varying production volumes and to easily support new manufacturing technologies, such as additive manufacturing. The intelligent factory uses manufacturing operations management with predictive and prescriptive capabilities, real-time data, feedback loops with engineering and ERP, and network capabilities for design collaboration.

This requires increased automation on the shop floor, including continuous process verification; Artificial Intelligence to check the status of chemical and biological reactions; warehouse functions through non-human interactions; and error reduction through automated processes such as e-labeling.

Increased automation on the shop floor with the use of collaborative robots (cobots), drones, augmented reality, and machine learning will increase efficiency even more. Through IoT technologies, supply chains and manufacturing operations will be completely transparent and managed on a global level. Supply chains will not only cater to a customer lot size of one but will also be managed and tracked at a product lot size of one.

For more information, visit the Industry 4.0 landing page at

Part 2 of my blog will be focusing on the strategic Industry 4.0 themes Intelligent Assets and Empowered People.



Assigned Tags

      1 Comment
      You must be Logged on to comment or reply to a post.
      Author's profile photo Bobby Chakravarty
      Bobby Chakravarty

      Excellent Blog..Looking forward to more content and details on clients I am working with in this space.