The world is grappling with Covid19 and various business sectors across the world are dealing with the demands of the situation.  Along with many essential industries, Pharma also had to come to terms with the ‘new normal’. With continuity in demand for life-saving drugs, they need to manufacture products even under restrictions of social distancing and lockdown. By digitalizing the various laboratory processes, many tasks can be performed remotely from home except the core analysis. This way production can progress in the presence of a small number of employees as required for maintaining social distancing.

Pharma companies that had the foresight to opt for complete automation and digitalization of their processes are at a better position in this situation when compared to many of their counterparts who are still person dependent. As per a report by Mckinsey, digitalization and automation of laboratory lead to 30 to 40% increase in productivity, up to 50% reduction in overall quality-control costs, more than 65% reduction in deviations, prevention of major compliance issues can itself help in reducing costs in millions. Added to this, lab digitalization now is helping Pharma companies continue working remotely, easing the business burden in the current situation.

On the other hand, Pharma companies that still follow manual systems are facing issues in continuing their sample management processes, for instance, owing to the current Covid-19 situation. Further, different stages of the process like sample registration, sampling and acceptance in laboratory, sample distribution (sample analysis, test data processing, sample review, sample approval, report and trend generation, etc. involve a lot of paperwork and mandatory human presence to carry out the activities.

Why Lab Digitalization is the Need of the Hour

According to Mckinsey, “Digitalization and automation will ensure better quality and compliance by reducing manual errors and variability, as well as allowing faster and effective resolution of problems.” In addition to such benefits reaped from this, digitally empowered Pharma companies can also ensure to continue to perform essential functions remotely in the time of lockdown.

In the current situation, Pharma companies have to adapt themselves very quickly to the “New Normal” of remote working to continue to meet the steady demand. This is possible only when robust systems are in place. Take, for example, the cloud-ready CaliberLIMS. In these times, if laboratories are digitally empowered, the Sample Management process becomes simple and automatic. Digitalization of sample management with digitized data ensures the continuation of processes without disruptions. Instrument integration enables the possibility of paperless laboratory and 100% digitalization of sample workflow. Various processes of the laboratory like sample detail collection from warehouse, sample registration, distribution, review & approval, report and trend generation, including Certificate of Analysis, filling worksheets/lab notebooks, etc. can be completely performed online that leads to phenomenal reduction of person dependency in laboratories.

Lab digitalization doesn’t require physical presence of a QA or QC manager at the laboratory. With modules like Electronic worksheet or Electronic Lab Notebook (ELN) and instrument integration, inventory and instrument management can also be performed online. For example, in a laboratory where manual process is followed, 50 members are required to perform various tasks. With cloud-ready CaliberLIMS system, the same work can be completed with far less number of people. The rest of the activities such as reviews and approvals can be performed remotely from home. This enables reduction of risk factor at the laboratories during unforeseen events. It ensures complete safety of people and processes.

Now more than ever, pharma companies should keenly look into digitalization and automation of their processes to ensure smooth flow of production at any point of time and under any crisis situation. If Pharma companies have not yet digitalized their processes, this is a good time to consider it.