[Solutions Spotlight] How digitalization can provide a competitive advantage

June 17, 2022

The digitalization journey for pharmaceutical manufacturing can reap many benefits and there are many choices to be made in terms of these technologies and how to deploy them. In this episode, Andrea Corona talks about how digitalization is delivering a competitive advantage and assembly and inspection with Veronica Ghidotti and Fabio Bertacchini from Stevanato Group.


Andrea Corona: Everyone in the pharmaceutical industry ultimately shares one goal: to improve the quality of life of the patients. That mission requires that companies remain adaptable and meet the demands of a changing world. Digitalization has touched all industries and pharma is no exception. The digitalization journey for pharmaceutical manufacturing can reap many benefits and there are many choices to be made in terms of these technologies and how to deploy them. Each one of these choices is a dot in a larger network of process improvements that help not only deploy, but leverage these digital technologies.

I'm Andrea Corona, senior editor for Pharma Manufacturing magazine, and you're listening to a special Solution Spotlight edition of Off Script: A Pharma Manufacturing Podcast about what's happening behind the scenes in our magazine and what's trending in the drug industry. Joining me today to talk about how digitalization is delivering a competitive advantage and assembly and inspection are Veronica Ghidotti and Fabio Bertacchini from Stevanato Group.

Welcome and thank you for being here.

Ghidotti: Thank you, thanks for the opportunity,

Corona: No problem. So, I'll get started with the first question. Why is the topic of digitalization so relevant now in general and crucial in pharmaceutical engineering?

Ghidotti: Well, I would like to start with a definition specifically the definition of digitalization. Digitalization means moving from physical status to something that can be processed by computer. So, basically, digitalization means to digtialize every kind of asset. And the advantages of digitalization really start at the early stages of each project after the entire lifecycle of an asset and involving also the production processes. Digitization can really bring a lot of opportunities, such as the reduction of the development risk and the timeline. So, faster good market for example, the improvement of the quality and the improvement of the performances.

Corona: So, my second question then is, can you speak more about the current trends in implementing digitalization solutions for pharmaceutical manufacturing? What are the current demands like?

Ghidotti: Trends can be really different, but what we can see is that there is always a first step that is common to every scenario, and this first step is the data collection. Data collection is basically the building blocks of big data lake containing information, data events, whatever is coming from different assets, different machines, different data sources considering also input from the operators' data that are coming from a production line. Once all the data are fitted in this data lake, it's possible to analyze and orchestrate data finding also a connection between sources that cannot seem to link at the at the first side. So, that is really possible to obtain different kind of advantages on the basis of the target that we wanted to achieve.

First of all, what we can see is that data are used for taking a data driven decision. So, it's really possible to decide how to move ahead with the production processes without the safety and the reliability of the results. They digitalization is also taking a big role in terms of of asset maintenance and because for example, machine learning algorithm are taking data and information from the data lake in order to achieve the results such as the predictive maintenance but also prescriptive maintenance and action. This means the capability to understand in advance how to move in order to achieve a certain result.

We can see also big advantages in terms of of drug testability, unifying the data lake opportunities with tracking trace technology primary container traceability, it's really possible to monitor the entire lifecycle of the drug, and also ensure the integrity of it for every kind of patient.

Corona:Thank you for that. Now, I'm a little bit curious to hear more about what specific solutions does Stevanto Group have in the pharmaceutical inspection equipment segments, and what are some of the benefits for the customer?

Ghidotti: Yeah, we work a lot in order to ensure to our customer to achieve improvement in terms of reliability and in terms of forced rejection rate, and I'm talking specifically to our solution, the Teva SG Vision AI, it is our artificial intelligence platform,. We guarantee to our customer, the capability to leverage the potentiality of machine learning in order to process the images taken by the production line and developing dedicated algorithm that can dramatically reduce forced reject rate but also force accepted rate. We are really providing a complete service including labeling assistant ticketing system, so we are providing the technology but also the service. Another important deployment of the digitalization is such a type of digital twin for the inspection, I call it the inspection in later because we can provide the option to virtually emulate, mimic the behavior of inspection machine provided by Stevanato, changing recipes, making adjustments and in this way, anticipate what will be the forecast or really create inspection recipes without impacting the current production and without stopping the machine. So, virtually is possible to understand what will be the current setup before going to the machine and before going to the shop floor. And this can really provide a lot of advantages in terms of time, first of all.

Corona: So, we've spoken about solutions in the pharmaceutical inspection equipment segments, can I hear more about what kind of solutions Stevanato Group has for more in the pharmaceutical assembly equipment segments? What benefits do customers receive with the implementation of digitalization solutions for assembly lines, specifically?

Bertacchini: Yes, of course. In the past two years, Stevanato Group explored different areas of innovation, including data management and digital twin opportunities.

Let's start from data management. Our product is a data collection tool developed to create an optimized solution for that analysis, easy interface and future use of artificial intelligence for process or product design and optimization. The focus of our solution is to overcome the boundaries of known data collection tools and create a complete data transparency by connecting all the necessary information. This tool is useful for the group during running as well as for customer operation, maintenance and data analytics. Our solution gives customer the possibility to interact with the assembly machine directly. It gives insight of the assembly product and the product variants, making simpler for operator on the shop floor to identify process deviation, product variation and make the proper correction right the first time. Key benefits for our customer is integration of our assembly or packing machine in digital shop floor at the customer side. Remote assistant and complete customer support with digital connection to our equipment enable to check the status of components and predictive maintenance, analysis of components analytics, that are collection of the major physical parameters of the machine to avoid the component breakages during the production and full transparency of production data for each product.

Regarding digital twin, we made a virtual replica of a machine or a line. It allowed the customer to review the performances and interact visually with the equipment before moving into production. By experiencing and testing the machine in advance, the customer can anticipate possible process deviation and reduce the production time needed. Once a decision is made. The digital twin can also be used in the design space or read-write delivery system to simulate the assembly steps needed for high volume production, and therefore, eases the design and the development phase. Using the capabilities of digital interaction significantly extend the possibility of its application, saving money and reducing time for approving the design of both the asset equipment itself as a whole and the main units. In detail, the benefits are: agreement on the basic requirements necessary for the customer at the initial stage of design and simulation of the main assembly step and the future implementation; preventing possible errors; short time for final concept approval; the validation of technical solution and mitigation of risk; reduce the cost of rework and test materials; reduce the implementation time; and finally, provide a digital solution for new operators training.

Corona: Thank you. So, my next question is, which possibilities for future applications of digitalization options are required by pharmaceutical companies and the drug delivery device assembly segment?

Bertacchini: Given the trends we mentioned before, our focus is to offer a support to our customer to the entire product lifecycle. So, from development to implement. We keep implementing our competencies to be a trustful collaborative partner for our customer, and we are committed to offering the flexibility they require with personalized solutions. And we believe the main areas to consider for the future are: customer support at any stage of their process, and deliver them a complete overview of each technological step, critical components, critical parameter, for the process for the assembly process, ensuring the highest overall equipment efficiency with very fast and easy back changes that simplify and speeding the data extraction and interpretation with the possible way of interaction and adjustment for the difference the coder and decision maker, receiving report from integrated sensor, from machine components in a limited timeframe, before some damage can happen and read, react productivity to organize and send the neatest part previously to customer. It clearly this is connected with the predictive maintenance, and then a full integration of remote assessment and vision guiding during every required assemblies steps.

Corona: Thank you. Well, it sounds like you're definitely very busy over there Stevanto Group, and you have some exciting things going on. I look forward to hearing more about them. So, thank you so much for joining me again today and for sharing your insights on the importance of digitalization and pharma.

Bertacchini: Thank you Andrea was really a pleasure for us to be here today.

Ghidotti: Thank you. Thanks a lot.

Corona: We'll do it again sometime.

This has been Andrea Corona. You've been listening to a special edition of Off Script: A Pharma Manufacturing Podcast. Stay healthy and stay informed.

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