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The added value of automation with human factors in pharma and life science

Everyone is talking about digitization and automation, but how do you make those concepts tangible? How do you implement these in your processes within the pharmaceutical and life science sectors in order to create demonstrable added value? GC Biotech will tell you more about it in this article!

Measurable and repeatable

In automation, we strive to make production quality measurable and feasible. That is certainly an added value within the pharmaceutical and biotech sectors. Within life science, for example, there are validated products to be marketed. In other words, they must be extensively tested. They are able to always deliver the same demonstrable quality. And that’s where automation comes in. Driven by the market, those sectors must also respond to this. Albeit with caution and restraint when it comes to the very latest technologies and solutions. Because achieving that often extremely high quality bar is and remains a priority.

Production capacity

But automation can also help optimize the capacity by improving processes, especially at a time when everything needs to go faster and faster – the pandemic made this clear to us. With process optimization I don’t just refer to production – the classics always associate automation with it – but also all data flows that come into play. There you can of course make productive production about those processes, so that you can control them based on that. The big advantage is that they are no longer acquired afterwards. But during the processes themselves. The emergence of artificial intelligence and other learning systems in particular can make a significant contribution here.

To demonstrate the concrete added value of automation, GC biotech provides an example: For example, production installations on which several products are made and where decisions are made at the last minute about the equipment to be used, it is impossible to produce in a validated way without extensive automation. Another example are processes in which transactions were prepared for and then distributed in the process. Now they mix them on the fly and during the process.

Human factor

Yet the human factor in that automation process remains responsible, the operative operation. We have taken competences at PA Solutions for 20 to 25 years in Belgium. We can therefore have all the essential technical know-how, which is an absolute must-have. But a lot of the success of a project depends on very strong project management, especially because time pressure has caused an enormous number of projects to become short track, with schedules that often run parallel.


To proactively think about automation processes – and that across various disciplines – to come up with solutions and to communicate them to the customer: you really need the human factor for that. People who don’t understand the technical side of things, but also everything that comes with it and assumes it. If you want to push those processes together and run parallel, nobody is on their island today. So I can safely say that the human factor only becomes important for that reason.

Because of this we have evolved. From implementer of solutions to independent engineering partner. An independent engineering partner is involved much earlier in the process. He starts thinking about the right automation techniques for the customer. So from basic and conceptual studies up to the phase of effective implementation and start-up.

Correct profiles application

Given the consideration of that human factor, it is therefore vital for an organization such as PA Solutions to attract the right profiles. The amount of knowledge is not obvious. This poses a challenge for existing employees, but also for new talent. We are mainly looking for people with the right mindset: you can have the right capabilities. But above all, you have to grow in that knowledge, in order to start having a social impact in that way.