IoT applications for pharmaceutical industry
The digitalization of laboratory environments through connected devices and data offers a wide range of opportunities for increasing efficiency and productivity. In the context of international competition, the chemical and pharmaceutical industries are facing major challenges that directly or indirectly affect their profitability.
Digitalization and automation are key factors for efficient value chains. Automation helps to optimize processes, increase the reliability of accurate results and avoid human error. Work safety is also increased, as is reliability in delivery.
A country exporting digital transformation and leading the digital revolution in Europe is Estonia – as large as Lower Saxony. The digitalization of the Baltic state starting in the mid-90s with the „Tiigrihüppe“, the Tiger Leap, expanded into the education sector as well as into different areas of the society. Estonian companies provide solutions for industry 4.0 and automation – from automotive supplies, energy and mechanical engineering over retail and logistics to pharma and chemistry.
For German and European manufacturing industries, including the contract manufacturing, it is worth looking to the North. “Estonian environment of manufacturing industries has a high vertical integration and is specialized on highly complex solutions”, says Triin Ploompuu, member of the board of the Federation of Estonian Engineering Industry. “Mechanical engineering and metal working combine design and development with mechatronical solutions; they are internationally oriented and have a high export rate of 80%. Our companies produce at competitive costs.”
Cooperation between German and Estonian companies takes place in numerous industries. The geographical proximity with almost identical timezones simplifies the cooperation. The short delivery routes and periods also contribute to the efficiency, and the EU-wide identical regulations provide legal certainty. Overall, Germany is Estonia’s fourth largest trading partner. The world’s leading role of the Baltic state in the digitalization provides security in the digital transformation in German companies.
Solution for a global use
HANZA Mechanics from Tartu provides control modules for grain analyzers from PerkinElmer. These applications are used worldwide to analyze grain, flour or dough. Within a two-minute cycle, they determine the amount of moisture, protein, and oil. Grains and their derivates are central components of food and animal feed and often the starting product for even more complex products. The devices are connected through Wifi and some with GPS in order to position the analysis on the field and also deliver the results directly to central laboratories.
The company PerkinElmer is industry leader in grain analysis and manufactures near-infrared systems for over three centuries. Recently, it awarded HANZA Mechanics with the “Supplier Excellence Award in a fight against Covid-19, June 2020”.
“Through our strength in integrating several components into one product under one roof offers a great savings potential for our customers”, says Emöke Sogenbits from HANZA Mechanics. “ Many of the components are manufactured by ourselves by using different technologies. Especially with highly complex products it is profitable for customers that we relieve them of procurement, supply chain management, , development, and production.”
HANZA has a subsidiaries in different European countries, the German one is located in Remscheid near Wuppertal. Among their customers are companies like ABB, Epiroc, Oerlikon, Saab, Siemens or the Swedish medical-technology company Getinge. Its subsidiary Maquet from Rastatt, Germany, is a world leading developer and manufacturer of medical technology for emergency departments, operating rooms, and intensive care units.
Outsourced manufacturing competence for complex products
Another exemplary supplier for the pharmaceutical and medical technology industry is HY-Tech Comp near Tallinn, a contract and series manufacturer of mechanical, electronic, and electromechanical components. The company’s electronic circuit boards and mechanical components are used in blood analyzers and emergency systems for patients. They are installed in end-products for clinics and doctor’s offices as well as in home applications and are used in accredited medical laboratories or point-of-care testing. “In laboratory processes, automation, error source prevention, data management, and data transfer play an increasingly important role, e.g. with hospital information system or laboratory information system”, says Urmo Sisask, CEO of HY-Tech Comp. The company produces according to ISO 13485, which stands for the requirements of a comprehensive quality management system for design and production of medical devices.
Blood analysis make up the majority of laboratory diagnosis. They support to detect diseases or uncover risks, select the right medication and monitor therapies. In the context of determination of drug levels (TDM – Therapeutic Drug Monitoring), concentrations of drugs in the blood can be measured. TDM is routinely used for over 100 drugs.
HY-Tech Comp relies on modern technologies for contract manufacturing, such as robots and high-end automatic placement machines in the production process. This enables circuit boards with a higher assembly density and higher throughput. With automatic optical inspection methods (AOI), quality control is possible during all steps of PCB production (PCBA – Printed Circuit Board Assembly), which involves one hundred or more components.
We do not see us as our clients’ suppliers but as an outsourced manufacturing competence”, says Urmo Sisask. “ We can meet a wide range of B2B medical technology challenges”. This contains complete products and OEM / ODM contract manufacturing, including the purchase of all components, PCB assembly and enclosure construction.
HY-Tech Comp uses the latest technologies and automated and digitalized its production. Urmo Sisask: “Digital solutions accelerate processes, and by preparing data for production, solutions such as preventative maintenance can also be efficiently implemented.”
The quick info for German companies
“Just as automobile manufacturers are changing into providers of mobility solutions, manufacturers of laboratory and medical technology are developing into smart healthcare providers”, says Triin Ploompuu. “The 50,000 employees of the electronic industry as well as mechanical engineering and metal working sectors portray progressive solutions for the digital transformation”. German companies can find more information on Estonian expertise as well as an access to exemplary case studies on the German-speaking website www.tradewithestonia.com/de. Direct contact persons are available in Nuremberg, the German office of the Estonian Investment and Economic Development Agency.
*Original article in CHEManager Magazine