Obsolescence management in the pharmaceutical industry

With an annual growth rate of 9.1 percent between 2016 and 2021, the pharmaceutical industry across Asia is growing rapidly and countries like Vietnam, Sri Lanka and China should all expect strong growth across the sector over the coming years. However, with such significant growth in the region, pharmaceutical manufacturers need to be able to keep up with demand.

Here, John Young, APAC sales director of obsolete industrial automation equipment supplier, EU Automation, explains the importance of obsolescence management in the Industry.

Not only is the native pharmaceutical industry developing rapidly across Asia, but multinational pharma organizations have earmarked the region as a target for the future. So much so, that experts predict that by 2021, the Asia Pacific market will have grown to be worth $277 billion, increasing the lead over Western Europe and making gains on market leader, North America.

However, the manufacturing requirements that will come alongside the research and development innovations will also require careful consideration and development.

Technologically advanced
The pharmaceutical industry is considered to be one of the most advanced industry sectors for cutting edge technology. Whether it is nanotechnology that is delivering drugs inside the human body, to 3D printing medication pills, it's safe to say the industry is at the forefront of innovation.

However, for many pharmaceutical manufacturing processes, often very old equipment or technology is still being used. This can result in slow, inflexible and high-risk equipment being relied on for mass manufacturing.

Despite this, many pharmaceutical manufacturers choose to continue to use old equipment because the industry is a heavily regulated sector, with every inch of production and process being required to meet specific industry and geographical standards. By continuing to use outdated or inefficient equipment, it means the rigor of meeting industry regulations, like the ASEAN Common Technical Dossier(ACTD) for Pharmaceuticals, is avoided.

Failure risks
However, in an industry that is so reliant on profit margins, the danger associated with using old equipment is unexpected downtime and system failures when equipment or parts break.

Many manufacturers can't afford both financial and regulatory approval timescale costs to replace entire pieces of equipment because their outdated system is obsolete. There are also potential implications when it comes to integrating any new machines with existing, older equipment and systems.

That's why equipment obsolescence management is vital in ensuring the ongoing productivity at your site.

Just because an old motor, pump or other piece of equipment has broken down and a direct replacement isn't readily available, all is not lost. Suppliers , like EU Automation, which specialize in sourcing obsolete parts or equipment for organizations across the globe, can help to source a replacement part in a flash.

While many organizations can't afford to keep a stockpile of replacement parts or equipment on site for those 'just in case' scenarios, having a trusted supplier on hand to deal with any urgent or unexpected requirements will prove valuable in the long-term.

This will be increasingly important with the rapid growth of the industry across Asia. If the level of predicted investment and development for the region comes true, the manufacturing processes need to be kept up to scratch as well, regardless of whether they are brand new, or old, machines.