Automation and the life sciences industry

Impressive advances in automation technology have had a big impact in various industries, streamlining and accelerating many aspects of business. At the same time, intelligent automation has removed mundane and repetitive tasks from employees, freeing them to focus on more high-level tasks and projects.

One industry that automation offers vast benefits to is the life sciences sector. Up until quite recently, this industry was lagging behind others in adopting technology. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, life sciences organizations have doubled down on investment and scaling of automation technology to increase productivity and efficiency.

Growth in this area is increasing, with the life sciences intelligent automation market predicted to reach between $450 and $490 million by 2023. The expected benefits of increased efficiency, improved customer experience, and increased compliance are driving this growth.

What is the life sciences industry?

The life sciences industry is an umbrella term for businesses, organizations, and research facilities concerned with improving life for organisms – human, animal and plant life.

There are various branches of life sciences, such as:

  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Biotechnology
  • Environmental sciences
  • Biomedicine
  • Nutraceuticals
  • Neuroscience
  • Cell biology
  • Biophysics

Life sciences are critical in helping us to understand disease and pharmaceuticals are critical to develop drug treatments. Environmental science looks at how to better preserve the natural world, including more sustainable food production.

How does automation impact life sciences?

Automation solutions in technology refer to the process being undertaken by computers. Two main types of automation exist within computers:

  • Test automation software used to control the execution of tests.
  • Robotic process automation (RPA) software used to build, deploy, and manage software robots.
a technical office watching something on tablet in testing lab

Both have different uses but ultimately, serve the same purpose, which is to allow processes to happen much faster and more efficiently with higher accuracy.

Life sciences companies using automation technology benefit from higher productivity, reduced risk, and lower costs. The uptake of automation in life sciences is accelerating its development even further into what has been called hyper automation.

Hyper automation isn’t new technology, but the use of advanced technology extends the reach of what automation technology can do (discover, analyze, design, automate, measure, monitor and reassess).

Digital tools have a multitude of benefits in the life sciences industry. They can provide new functionality, better insights, efficiency, and automation of various error-prone processes.

The following are some of the many ways automation can be applied in the life sciences industry:

Research and development

Life sciences are the future of healthcare and medical research. Biotechnology and biopharmaceuticals are used to develop new treatments, therapies, and diagnostic tools such as wearable medical devices for diseases and disorders. These advancements in research will help to improve economic growth as well as provide more job prospects for their population.

The goal of many companies is to eliminate human error when it comes to documenting and assessing drugs. Automation of artificial intelligence and machine learning as an analytics tool allows for faster and more accurate information collection and assessment of product quality. It enables data to be analyzed more effectively by connecting different data sources and performing cross checks.

The growing adoption of cloud infrastructure will also have significant implications for the life sciences sector. It will change how organizations manage, integrate, secure, and analyze data. The benefits of cloud platforms for research are impressive, as the rapid upgrades in software capabilities will provide endless opportunities for integrating with other cutting-edge technology.

Approval and compliance

In the past, the regulatory process of drug approvals has been a long and drawn-out process. The process involves scientists who are tasked to evaluate the safety and efficacy of a new drug for human use.

This process has been slow due to the stringent standards set by the FDA, who is tasked with protecting consumers from dangerous drugs. But with advances in technology and bioinformatics, we may be able to drastically improve this process for much-needed medications that are being held stagnant because of it. This shortens the time-to-market period, the period of time from conception of a new idea until product launch into the marketplace.

Changes to the regulatory processes around the world also mean organizations are at increased risk of non-compliance and audit if they can’t meet the key criteria of regulation. The ever-changing requirements of compliance are daunting and expensive. Updates to formulation, design, production, packaging, and supply chains are all contributors to the increased cost of compliance. Data is crucial to this process and an automated process to collect, process, analyze, archive, and exchange data will be crucial to advancing an organization’s ability to navigate the regulatory process.

Commercial operations

Life sciences organizations such as pharmaceutical companies can apply data-driven automation technology into functions such as quality control, reporting, manufacturing, market fulfillment, and supply chain management. Operations management is an important factor of ensuring the end result of life sciences research, development, and implementation is accessible to the market for which they are intended.

Automation of products and services directly enhances the customer experience, driving organizations to seek a competitive advantage and even further increase the capabilities of automation technology into the future.

Talk to the IT professionals at BCS365 to make the right investment in digital technology for your life sciences organization.