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GSK to standardize on automation

GlaxoSmithKline has selected Siemens as a strategic partner providing technology for manufacturing and R&D sites worldwide.

Photo from GSK
Photo from GSK

There’s a lot of disruption infiltrating the life sciences industry—from increased merger-and-acquisition activity to regulatory pressure, escalating costs, shorter product lifecycles, and a move to continuous process in manufacturing. Collectively, these things are forcing organizations to reevaluate strategies and business models. For some, that starts with the technology on the plant floor.

Recently, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), a research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare company, announced it selected Siemens as a strategic manufacturing partner. In this new agreement—which extends a long-standing relationship between the two companies—Siemens will be the preferred automation supplier for GSK production and R&D sites worldwide, including vaccines.

This past March, GSK completed a three-part transaction with Novartis including the acquisition of Novartis’s vaccines business (excluding influenza vaccines), which was combined with the GSK Consumer Healthcare businesses to create a new company.

According to GSK, the goal of this deal is to refresh the company’s global automation strategy. “One of our objectives is to simplify and standardize the automation space by identifying a small number of systems and suppliers, and this is the first step on our journey to achieving this,” said Dave Tudor, GSK Vice President Primary Supply and Leader of the global automation steering team. The Siemens partnership will create long-term value for both GSK and its customers, he said.

The partnership centers on process control, as well as equipment control and building management systems within the manufacturing and R&D pilot plants of GSK. The four main areas of focus include: Modular Manufacturing; Batch Sterile Facility Blue Print; Machine and Production Line Optimization; and Manufacturing Blue Print for different Dosage forms.

Siemens offers a wide portfolio of products for pharmaceutical companies, including controllers and drives, manufacturing execution software (MES) and process analytical technology (PAT). According to Siemens, its integrated architecture targets Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) guidelines.

“Integrated automation and digitalization solutions are important levers for pharmaceutical companies to raise efficiency and productivity while ensuring safety and quality,” says Eckard Eberle, CEO of the Siemens process automation business unit. “As a reliable partner we will support GSK by providing a unique integrated portfolio comprising hardware, software, and services across the entire plant life cycle.”

Editor’s note: This article is republished from a Sept. 8, 2015 article by Stephanie Neil, Senior Editor, Automation World


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