The recent pandemic has affected all market niches. However, there is no doubt that the current situation has the greatest impact on the world of medicine. Problems resulting from the pandemic included disruption of supply chains. The other question is typical of most industries. Drugs are no exception. This is the demand for automation.
The automation of medical devices depends on many aspects. One of the most important aspects is the reliability and safety of the components. All parts of the device must be safe, reliable and highly accurate. They can last forever without the need for maintenance or replacement. For example, these are the main characteristics of actuators that can be used for medical applications.
Benefits of automated medical equipment
Automated medical equipment can provide more accurate and consistent results than humans. Let’s look at some examples:
- Production of medical specimens – a properly configured machine runs non-stop for several hours. The units are equipped with various sensors, cameras, etc. They can detect any changes immediately and even configure the system automatically;
- Each parameter can be easily modified by changing the device settings;
- The automated system can increase production to mass volumes. The investment is necessary but pays for itself quickly;
- Waste can be significantly reduced. Efficiency increases.
These are just the main advantages of medical device automation, and only from an economic point of view. Now let’s see what exactly can be automated.
Automation trends and forecasts
Robots are still used differently in medicine than in other industries. Their application is very specific. Robots are used, for example, in the pharmaceutical industry or to perform minimally invasive procedures. It takes a lot of investment and effort to automate the entire domain. Therefore, it is often observed that when a new company enters the market, it introduces new equipment. Of course, this device is automated.
The following trends can be observed now and will continue:
- Robotics production lines : Robots can ensure constant quality and flexibility. The robots simply need to be reconfigured to enable the production of new products. This reduces the cost of launching the production of new products and saves a lot of time.
- The production volume can be increased as quickly as possible when demand increases.
- Another peculiarity of this industry is the need for special aseptic areas. People are carefully cleaned before entering the aseptic chamber. While the robots would remain in that white room. There is therefore a risk of penetration of pollutants. The automation of cleanroom processes thus reduces costs and maintenance efforts.
- In terms of packaging equipment, robots can be used on a large scale. They can be faster, and reconfiguring them as needed doesn’t require much work or authorizations.
- Automation increases safety in the workplace. Robots can be used for lifting loads, transporting loads, handling hazardous materials, etc.
For example, medicine can already benefit from robots in the production process. Add to that the other benefits that robots bring to patient care and it’s clear that robots are an integral part of our lives, even when it comes to medicine.
Internet and automation
In particular, the Internet, IoT and cloud computing solutions play an important role in the automation of medical device manufacturing. They are essential when it comes to large companies that have facilities in multiple locations. Data can be shared efficiently and accurately between devices, ensuring consistency across locations.
IoT allows devices to communicate with each other. It is used to adapt to changes in any procedure and to achieve the necessary compliance with existing rules and standards. Similarly, changes in legislation are communicated to the institutions. Internet and cloud-based solutions eliminate compliance and consistency issues between plants in different cities or even countries.
Although many processes in medical device manufacturing are already automated, it can be said that all innovations are still being implemented. The production of medical products is a very complex area with many rules and restrictions. Implementing something new there is therefore quite expensive and difficult.
So we see mostly new companies coming in with automated equipment and processes. The same is true for large companies, where automation is about improving production efficiency and delivering products to meet growing customer demand. While small businesses are still on the path to automation.
While medical manufacturing automation still presents some challenges, its benefits are clear even to the most skeptical critics. Yes, automation involves a significant initial investment. But it is difficult to imagine a future of production in the field of medicine with honest human labor.
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