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Pharma and Medical Device Companies share their experiences with transforming their operations with digital platforms like Tulip. This is the second part of a three-part series. Read and watch the first part here.

Question: How are people on the frontline adopting/changing?

One of the elements that come with digital innovation is this notion of democratization, the bottom-up approach. Here is the story of how David Holt from FactoryTalk helped democratize an unnamed customer.


(David Holt, FactoryTalk) We had just finished a global proof-of-concept with a company that was running operations in four different countries, including China and the Central America region. Although these countries were completely disconnected in terms of geography, the changes we saw at the frontline were essentially the same. Although they were both testing out their own proofs-of-concept and their own use cases, the front line workers all became experts in building apps simply through enjoying the capabilities of the platform. Because they could actually solve the day-to-day problems they had been seeing for a while, they were going way beyond the scope of what their job really had asked them to do and taking that extra step to solving issues at heart.

What we realized at the frontline was that once you get past the basics of training and building out simple solutions, you can really run wild. We saw some genuine passion there, and I believe that’s really what is at the heart of digitization: to enable people to show that they can actually use that deep understanding that they’ve got on that specific area on the shop floor. We saw this in adopting total productive maintenance as well as changeover line clearance.

Q: What are the main challenges with bridging the old and new world?

Manufacturing in Pharma and Life Sciences has been around for a while, and it is only natural that shop floors have both 30-year legacy machines and the newest of new technologies. And this status quo is not going to change – no one is going to rip everything out and put everything new back in.

So, as we transition into this new paradigm of digital manufacturing, we have to take into consideration how existing systems and equipment can be put on an equal footing as the new ones. Here are what the main challenges have been for our panelists in bridging the old and new world.


(Patrick Hyett, GSK) About a year or two ago, a big challenge we had was integrating process automation into the shop floor systems. As an example, we had to integrate old alarm systems in our process automation programs and feed univariate data and process data into Brownfield equipment.

However, looking back, what I would say is the bigger challenge in bridging the old-new gap is working with groups with new technologies. Today, there are so many new technologies that seemingly have a bit of a crossover with technologies that are already in place, and it is important to not write off the old ones that are already in place. We need to use them in the best way possible to get the most value out of them while moving in the direction of slowly modernizing with newer technologies that are effectively more agile, data-rich, customizable, and have better user interfaces. So then, the important question to ask here is, at what point do you quickly modernize within your shop floor.

Q: What about changing the mindset of using papers with the rise of new technologies?


(Rey Medina, Johnson & Johnson) Paper may be the most flexible tool, but it cannot enable our long term supply chain goals. If we want a quick, responsive, agile supply chain, the paper is not going to get it done in the world of big data analytics.

We’ve been on a quest for some time to eliminate paper from the shop floor, and we have explored using legacy architected solutions like our historians in laboratory information management systems. However, we opened up our eyes to new technologies that were either complementary to our legacy solutions or bringing in something new like the IoT. So we leveraged IoT to help us complement data collection that we once couldn’t fathom a way to capture because of the advances in sensor technologies and complimentary IoT centers. Or in this case, had a hard time replacing paper. This gave us new data streams to analyze.

With that, we try to be quick and nimble and have made investments into some of our core infrastructure at the sites to better enable IoT implementations. But similar to what Patrick said, we’re not going to be able to get everybody on the same version of software across all the manufacturing sites. And so we have to be opportunistic to upgrade certain technologies while replacing others. That’s where the digital technologies come in, replacing the legacy systems with some of the new digitally architected solutions, and cloud-hosted and IoT solutions.

Read part 1 ➔
Read part 3 ➔

Want to see how you can get started with implementing some of this advice? You can get in touch here or start with our free 30 day trial of Tulip.