Industry 4.0 and the Future for Pharma in Ireland.


At a recent Innopharma event, Henrik von Scheel, Industry 4.0 expert, talked about the impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution on the world of work.

Henrik von Scheel is a distinguished business thinker and a leading authority on strategy and competitiveness. He is best known as the originator of Industry 4.0 and for setting the German Digital Agenda.

What is Industry 4.0?

Industry 4.0 represents a new industrial revolution, which we are now living through. This significant shift in how we work merges the digital, virtual and physical worlds with other trends.

Addressing pharma and biopharma leaders, von Scheel had this to say, “In its scale, scope and complexity, Industry 4.0 fundamentally alters the way we live, work, consume, our economy, and how we relate to one another.”

These changes have already occurred across the manufacturing sector, evolving from mechanisation, mass production and assembly lines, computers and automation, to now incorporate data, machine learning and autonomous systems.

Essentially, Industry 4.0 optimises the digitalisation of industry, making factories more efficient and productive, with less wastefulness.

Will Industry 4.0 Be Disruptive?

Industry 4.0 is inherently disruptive, as Henrik von Scheel explains, “It is unlike anything humankind has experienced before. It disrupts every aspect of our lives, society and industries – in every country.”

However, he also points out that the true focus of Industry 4.0 is not technology, but people.

“It is about how people connect, how they work together.”

While Industry 4.0 includes core developments in areas such as artificial intelligence, augmented reality, 3D printing, quantum computing and the Internet of Things, it is workforces that will need to adapt quickly to rapid technological change.

“We cannot achieve anything without first investing in our people to equip them with the essential skills.”

What Are the Implications of Industry 4.0 for Pharma?

Dr Ian Jones, founder and CEO of the Innopharma Group, wants to highlight the opportunities that exist within Ireland’s rapidly changing biopharma industry.

“We want to challenge the fears people have, and to demonstrate the huge opportunities that exist for Ireland’s high-tech manufacturing sectors if we position ourselves at the forefront of the next period of industrial growth.”

Rather than machines replacing people, this is about developing a highly educated and skilled workforce, with a focus on areas such as data analysis, machine learning, process technologies and lean six sigma.

“Ireland has a unique role to play in the future development of the global biopharma industry. We are the eighth largest exporter of medicinal and pharmaceutical products in the world, with 75 leading companies operating here.”

The important thing is for this sector to invest in upskilling its workforce now, so as not to miss out on the huge opportunity Industry 4.0 offers. There are estimates that pharma and biopharma could create 85,000 new jobs in Ireland over the next five years.

Henrik von Scheel emphasises that this is an opportunity Ireland cannot afford to miss, “The countries that aren’t quick enough to recognise the opportunities – and fail to adapt quickly by upskilling their workforces – will be left behind in the years to come.”


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