SmartX: A New Approach to Industry 4.0 in Pharma

SmartX: A New Approach to Industry 4.0 in Pharma


In our last blog, we explored the latest developments from Industry 4.0 and how it is having a profound impact on pharmaceutical development and manufacturing. The cost-savings and productivity benefits of implementing the technological “pillars” of 4.0 are a growing driver in decision-making from facilities & provisioning, equipment connectivity, and the use of data-lakes, to the changing skillset requirements of the pharmaceutical manufacturing and development workforce. Here, we will look at how more value can be added to the process development and manufacturing, using SmartX, Innopharma Technology’s Pharma-focused Industry 4.0 platform.

SmartX is among a new wave of software suites/systems to come to market that do not fit within the traditional industrial automation classifications of the last few decades. Although it is not an Integrated Control System (ICS), data historian or a SCADA, it fulfils these roles in process-specific applications to greater or lesser extents, depending on how it is integrated with existing systems.

New equipment is increasingly coming to market with support for modern communications standards including IOT connectivity. This provides opportunities for more progressive implementation, bypassing many of the time-consuming, low-level connectivity and control tasks traditionally performed when implementing PLCs and SCADAs. SmartX is a new type of technology deployed partly in the cloud and partly locally (“edge” deployment as it has become known), focusing on higher-level, data-centric process understanding, and control operations.


SmartX A New Approach to Industry 4.0 in Pharma


Connectivity Has Never Been Easier

The smart factory market is witnessing technology offerings from many of the largest industrial automation players that promise to connect every piece of equipment across your business to the cloud, taking the place of traditional ERP, MES and even SCADA systems.

Digital Transformation is high on the agenda for many enterprises with many initialising the change process through well-defined and measurable lighthouse projects.  However many companies fail to progress beyond initial lighthouse pilots because of perceived complexity in delivery or absence of expertise to scale. Innopharma Technology’s consultancy services help deliver maximum value out of Industry 4.0 and smart industrial automation in pharmaceutical manufacturing. Our experience in manufacturing, process development, and our in-house application lab with a range of pharmaceutical-grade equipment makes us uniquely placed to deliver value-added solutions on a practical scale. We are available to consult on industry 4.0 projects in pharma, large or small, and always aim to deliver the most cost-effective solution - whether from our own suite of process-specific development, control, and insight tools, products from other industry leaders, or a combination of both.


A Process-Centric Approach

Compared to the majority of Industry 4.0 suite offerings, SmartX takes a more niche approach, minimizing deployment workload by focusing on individual process types. As well as a significant reduction in implementation costs, this also adds enormous value by simplifying process development, scale-up, and tech transfer. This is achieved by the process-specific toolsets supplied as part of the system, as well as mechanistic control models which help to account for physical equipment and formulation differences between processes, with easily-set parameters.

ERP and MES systems will continue to have an important part to play for the foreseeable future, however SmartX fulfils an increasingly emergent gap in process specific control and optimisation systems through  communication and connectivity with existing industrial systems. The era of being locked-in to a single vendor for plant-wide business and automation systems is being phased out. Instead, we're entering a time where data democratization, decentralized data governance, and purpose-built software and services are organised around individual business needs and capabilities.

SmartX is designed to accelerate process development and to automate process control in the Pharmaceutical and related manufacturing industries. It enables more insightful and connected manufacturing, ensuring better quality, reliability, and efficacy, as well as efficient regulatory compliance. Its highly flexible real-time visualization, automation, and control systems are purpose-built for fluid bed granulation, drying, and coating processes.

We at Innopharma Technology are constantly working on trailblazing technologies for Industry 4.0 and opportunities to share our knowledge and add value through our consultancy services. For more exciting and thought-provoking developments on our SmartX platform, follow Innopharma Technology on LinkedIn and Twitter.  



Chris O’Callaghan

Chris O’Callaghan is Head of Engineering within Innopharma Technology and is responsible for process analytical technologies and control products, applications development, and customer project delivery. He and his team manage the custom engineering projects required to successfully interface control systems with new and existing product lines in the continuous and batch manufacturing spaces, as well as control strategy development and deployment.

Darren McHugh

Darren McHugh is a Senior Product Manager at Innopharma Technology, with over 18 years of experience in the field of Manufacturing. He holds separate degrees in: Mechanical Engineering, Manufacturing Engineering, Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Manufacturing, and a Master’s in Product Management. He has worked with several companies in the manufacturing industry to help them implement smart manufacturing solutions into their processes. Darren is an expert in Industry 4.0 and 5.0 solutions, where he has used IIoT, image analysis and machine learning (ML) technologies to help companies capture the full potential of their digital transformation efforts and deliver a satisfactory return on investment.

Laryssa Gorato

Laryssa Gorato is an Associate Product Manager at Innopharma Technology with a proven track record of success in developing and launching innovative products. Laryssa is a PAT specialist and the lead point of contact for the Eyecon 2 particle size and shape analyser. Responsibilities include installing, training, and supporting customer success. Laryssa is passionate about converting the needs of Innopharma customers into product features, the implementation of which has improved the product functionality and delighted customers.

Data Integrity by Design

SmartX - simple and secure handling of data ensures Data Integrity by Design from experimentation and DoE to process data storage. Data storage can be implemented in either a cloud or edge (on-site) model.

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