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With technology, pharma SMEs can become globally competitive

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In the recent several years, especially in the wake of the epidemic, manufacturing in India has emerged as the country’s development engine. Pharma has been a bright light that has made us the world’s pharma capital even though manufacturing growth has occurred across all industries. Strong local and international demand has led to a growth in output, and during the past three years, several new manufacturing facilities have been built. Let’s not overlook the importance of SMEs as they contribute to one-third of our output. The country’s large pharmaceutical giants have done the majority of the manufacturing.

Although SMEs are expanding at a respectable pace of close to 10%, they confront the difficulty of being internationally competitive in the long run since they lack economies of scale and the luxury of using new technology. Pharmaceutical SMEs are under tremendous competitive pressure, which has been growing as more and more new businesses are receiving manufacturing licenses.

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The situation has gotten even more challenging as a result of the rise in raw material prices, therefore cutting production costs and maintaining high plant capacity utilization have emerged as the top concerns for business owners. A respectable utilization rate for SMEs up to this point has been judged to be 75%, but there is still the opportunity to create more with the same resources.

Adopting digital solutions will enable manufacturing to become smarter, which is the solution to all of these problems. All SME pharmaceutical facilities employ cutting-edge equipment and are mostly automated, yet they still lag behind when it comes to using the software. Automation will only take SMEs so far; to survive and prosper after that, they must have cyber-physical systems and use smart manufacturing techniques to further cut costs and boost efficiency. The manufacturing of the future will be flexible, allowing output to be quickly modified in response to demand and changing market trends.

As a result of the solutions’ ability to revolutionize the supply chain, increase productivity, and enhance industrial efficiency, digitalization has the potential to have an exponential influence on operational cost reduction. Numerous Industry 4.0 solutions exist that may enhance R&D, procurement, quality control, compliance, and production planning. Examples of these solutions are widespread and include paperless operations that record shopfloor data, condition monitoring of crucial machinery to guard against untimely failures, and computer vision-based quality inspection of pharmaceuticals to identify flaws and missing medication in the packaging.

Smart supply chain and warehouse systems are also available that include drug monitoring, theft security, and movement-tracking capabilities. Applications of AR and VR technology are also being used to improve consumer interaction, teach the workforce, and provide remote supervision of employees.

In the past year, it has been discovered that while business owners are receptive to new technology, many are unaware of and have limited access to solution providers. Although they mentioned budget as the other factor, discussing some of the affordable and simple options helped them see things more positively.

The first step in ensuring that everyone on staff understands the digital world is to raise awareness of its importance. The workforce as a whole has to value the usage of technology. One of the main causes of digital projects failing is firms’ glaring disregard for worker-level skilling. Businesses could also utilize digital maturity assessment tools to identify any gaps in their present digital infrastructure and use what they discover to create a long-term strategy for implementing new technologies.

Also Read: Manufacturing SMEs into tomorrow’s factories

NASSCOM Gandhinagar CoE, a digital India initiative from the Ministry of Electronics and IT and the Gujarat government, recognized this gap and launched a special program to assist SMEs in developing digital capabilities within their organizations and offering hand-holding support to SMEs during the deployment process of digital solutions. All manufacturing facilities wishing to begin their digital journey and with a revenue of less than Rs. 1000 crore are eligible for this initiative.

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