Wednesday 6 October 2021

Does not compute: When and how pharmaceutical automation fails

In simple terms, ‘automate’ means to run or operate (something, such as a factory or system) by using machines, computers, etc., instead of people to do the work. Hence, the implementation of automation technologies, techniques and processes improve the efficiency, reliability, and/or speed of many tasks that were previously performed by humans. Expanding upon this concept, ‘what automation is’ in the pharmaceutical process, a simple example is with an automatic control loop. Here a controller compares a measured value of a process with a desired set value and processes the resulting error signal to change some input to the process, in such a way that the process stays at its set point despite disturbances.


Hence, workplace automation is a means of combining a series of simple, repetitive tasks to create a straightforward, streamlined flow of operations, without the risk of human error. Utilizing the benefits of automation is one of the essential elements of industry 4.0. Drivers for automation also include economic pressures, such as business disruptions, safety concerns, regulatory requirements, customer service, financial problems, and competition. Each of these triggers at least conditions the pharmaceutical company to consider pursuing workflow automation.





Sandle, T. (2021) Does not compute: When and how pharmaceutical automation fails, Pharma Machines and Technology, 15 (6): 18-30


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Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle, Pharmaceutical Microbiology Resources (

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