Incorporating Automation in Life Sciences to Boost Operational Speed and Efficiency

Total Quality

automation
Life sciences firms can adopt automation throughout the release cycle and speed up the pace of innovation.
Image source: Flickr CC user Kitmondo Marketplace

The biotherapeutics market has seen marked growth in recent years, a trend that isn’t likely to change anytime soon. If anything, as more innovative drugs gain regulatory approval, the field is guaranteed to become increasingly crowded. In order to remain competitive, life sciences companies will need to find ways to speed up their product release cycle. In fact, estimates claim that delays occurring during the discovery and preclinical development of a new drug can value a loss of $1 million per day.1 Indeed, in the current climate, organizations must adopt strategies that support efficient operational excellence in the hopes of not only recouping their investment, but to also maintain their advantage over rival firms.

We’ve already seen this desire to increase speed manifest in related areas. For example, automated robotic liquid handling cell culture systems have gained widespread development and commercialization. They’re efficient, they handle higher capacity and they provide reproducible purity levels. These traits combined together contribute to the booming cell culture market, which is expected to reach $37 billion by 2022.2

Automation isn’t only useful to support areas like cell culture, however. It can come into play during collaborations between companies to develop new drugs as well—as is the case in the partnership between Cepheid and MedImmune.3 While two companies collaborating on a new project is hardly an uncommon occurrence these days, it’s interesting to note that Cepheid is a diagnostics company known for its ability to automate complex and time-consuming manual procedures. The partnership will no doubt make heavy use of this capability to support their future aims.

Companies Need to Adopt Solutions that Support Automation within Their Organization

As we can see from the two previous examples, automation becomes most useful when handling time-consuming manual procedures. Large-scale production of biotherapeutics would face an intimidating bottleneck should manufacturers need to rely on manual cell culture efforts versus those handled by robotic systems. Similarly, the rapid diagnostic tests the Cepheid and MedImmune collaboration hope to create would not be possible. Other life sciences companies can take cues from their lead by finding areas within their organization that could benefit from automation, thereby boosting operational efficiency.

One area that could easily be automated are routine tasks. These routine tasks don’t have to involve cell culture or other laboratory processes either. Administrative tasks can be targeted as potential areas to benefit from automation. In the scientific field, administrative tasks are often viewed as time-consuming and non-value-adding, so they can be neglected and laborious. By automating such tasks, it frees up researchers’ time and allows them to concentrate on more productive matters. For example, much effort can be devoted to transferring data between locations. Dealing with incompatible applications, exporting files from one format to another and transcribing data are all endeavors life science employees are familiar with. Through automation, however, data transfer can be done directly without manual intervention, which can add errors or slow down release cycles due to disruptive data extractions.

Automation has another positive effect beyond tackling time-consuming manual procedures. It standardizes protocols, eliminating variability. Replacing manual procedures with automated ones can also lead to increased consistency across all departments and levels of an organization, resulting in a better quality product. The inefficiencies that arise from needless duplication due to disparate manual processes are gone because one system can address it from a single centralized location.

Life science organizations don’t need to form partnerships to incorporate automation into their daily operations. And while it likely already plays a role in the laboratory setting, automation can also benefit administrative tasks such as quality control and assurance. Considered by many people as a bottleneck and hindrance to operational efficiency, finding ways to make quality procedures more efficient should be a priority for companies specializing in developing biotherapeutics—not only due to increased market competition, but also because of changing regulatory guidelines that will favor faster release cycles.

BIOVIA Total Quality is a complete, integrated solution that supports companies in all aspects of their quality management procedures. From standardizing and automating business processes to ensuring organizational consistency of quality documentation, the solution helps firms release high-quality products while streamlining the release cycle. Among its many benefits are the reduction of errors, minimization of non-value-added tasks and the replacement of disjointed systems and applications. Does your organization want to boost operational speed and efficiency by streamlining your quality management processes? Please contact us today to learn more about BIOVIA Total Quality.

  1. “Maximizing Pipeline Value And Operational Efficiency Through High Throughput Protein Expression,” May 26, 2011, http://www.lifescienceleader.com/doc/maximizing-pipeline-value-high-throughput-protein-expression-000
  2. “Cell Culture Market Size Worth $37.0 Billion By 2022: Grand View Research, Inc.,” September 30, 2015, http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/cell-culture-market-size-worth-370-billion-by-2022-grand-view-research-inc-530076921.html
  3. “Cepheid Announces Diagnostic Collaboration With MedImmune And COMBACTE To Facilitate Clinical Trials Of New Monoclonal Antibodies To Prevent Serious Infectious Diseases,” January 14, 2016, http://www.fiercemedicaldevices.com/press-releases/cepheid-announces-diagnostic-collaboration-medimmune-and-combacte-facilitat

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