NIBRT forges Biopharma 4.0 Alliance with Boston Consulting Group

2 May 2019

From left: Aoife Barron, NIBRT; James Morton, BCG; Susan Hynes, Takeda Dunboyne Biologics; and Killian O’Driscoll, NIBRT. Image: BCG

New alliance will enable biopharma industry to catch up fast with advances in industry 4.0.

The world-renowned Boston Consulting Group (BCG) has joined forces with Ireland’s NIBRT (National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Technology) to enable the digital transformation of manufacturers in biopharma and life sciences.

In what is one of the first collaborations of its kind globally, BCG and NIBRT have created the Biopharma 4.0 (B4.0) Alliance for Digital Innovation in Operations.

‘Industry 4.0 technologies have the potential to deliver transformative benefits to the biopharma industry’

The B4.0 Alliance will develop and deploy industry 4.0 technologies in order to deliver transformative benefits to the operations of global biopharma manufacturing and related sectors.

The team has recently completed the B4.0 design blueprint, which lays out in detail the top 95 industry 4.0 use cases as applied to biopharma manufacturing. The blueprint also outlines how biopharma companies can use cutting-edge technologies such as robotics, artificial intelligence and augmented reality to revolutionise manufacturing operations.

Digital demonstrator

The alliance will now move into the next phase, involving the build-out of a physical ‘digital demonstrator’ based in NIBRT’s Dublin facility.

“Industry 4.0 technologies have the potential to deliver transformative benefits to the biopharma industry,” explained Killian O’Driscoll, director of projects at NIBRT.

“Building on the digital blueprint, the Biopharma 4.0 Alliance will provide a robust proof of concept for 4.0 technologies in NIBRT’s pilot plant facilities. In turn, this will support the optimal deployment of these technologies in biopharma manufacturing operations in Ireland and beyond.”

One of the first manufacturers to collaborate with the alliance will be Takeda, which is building a massive biologics plant in Dunboyne, Co Meath.

“As we build our new state-of-the-art facility in Co Meath, this alliance will help us in our biopharma 4.0 journey to build the right capabilities using augmented reality to aid on-demand 24/7 training”, explained Susan Hynes, VP and site lead at Takeda Dunboyne Biologics.

As biopharma manufacturing becomes increasingly complex, globalised and more highly regulated, the sector must improve its operations to increase quality and supply performance, while reducing cost to the patient.

In other industries, including aerospace, defence, automotive and FMCG, the deployment of industry 4.0 technologies has delivered huge benefits to manufacturing performance. However, biopharma is currently significantly behind other advanced manufacturing sectors in its adoption of disruptive technologies.

“We believe there is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a step change in biopharma manufacturing performance through smarter adoption of disruptive industry 4.0 technologies,” said Frank Cordes, BCG partner and operations practice lead for western Europe.

“The alliance and resulting digital demonstrator provide the platform, capabilities and expertise that our clients require to deliver this.”

The demonstrator will cover the latest industry 4.0 technologies in manufacturing, quality control, quality assurance and cross-plant operations. These technologies will be seamlessly integrated with core operating processes to enable proof-of-concept studies on new innovations and ways of working. Visitors to the centre will be able to experience and learn about these technologies, as well as pilot specific use cases, and co-develop industry 4.0 solutions with NIBRT and BCG.

“We are very excited to be part of this this groundbreaking alliance, and to collaborate with NIBRT and BCG to explore and showcase applications of our augmented reality-based industry 4.0 tools in the biopharma sector,” added Paul Sweeney, COO of Daqri, a global leader in professional-grade augmented reality.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years