In advance of her talk as part of the Lab News hosted session at CHEMUK 2022, Iwona Kandpal looks at driving innovation in UK chemical labs in small and medium enterprises through the adoption of company-wide Industry 4.0 solutions
As a result of Brexit, there is a whole new raft of legal requirements regarding imports, exports and safety regulations.
Iwona A Kandpal is an Industrial Digital Technologies (IDT) Adviser
Chemical companies already use a number of different technologies such as LIMS and MES (manufacturing execution systems) but there remains a significant opportunity to benefit from LEAN IT architecture, where modular solutions function in full convergence with each other. Additionally, the adoption of company-wide digital technology across, research laboratories in addition to business operations, will further streamline both internal and external collaboration.
Cross-departmental collaboration will bring high returns very quickly. From continuous product improvement and efficiency gains to higher margins and competitive advantage. Once tedious and repetitive activities are removed, lab technicians and analysts can focus on high-value research and new product development.
It has been estimated that the UK chemical industry is importing around 70% of its raw materials and most manufacturers are working on just-in-time production schedules limited by complex and co-dependent supply chains. The pandemic has disrupted supply, forcing businesses to scramble over resources. Many laboratories are struggling with high prices of material and transportation. Automated consumables tracking proves invaluable in saving resources and time. Modern LIMS can track data relating to lab stock, formulations, and expiration dates. Access to market trends analytics allows companies to plan financial transactions in good time, take advantage of lower prices or high availability and bring new products to market ahead of the competition. Process improvements will reduce time to market and deliver a solid foundation to plan and scale manufacturing. By connecting labs to the same digital information, lab researchers can also observe consumer behaviour and connect with customers directly for product feedback to help plan research activities and inspire new product development.
As a result of Brexit, there is a whole new raft of legal requirements regarding imports, exports and safety regulations. To remain compliant, chemical labs must also collect data, generate reports, and produce legal documentation around both raw ingredients and final formulations. Enterprise resources management systems can handle the sheer volume of data across an organisation’s full product and formulation history. A modular, integrated application eco-system can provide necessary functionality while enabling full remote access.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve had the chance to observe fast-paced vaccine research and development. This would not be possible without cross-functional and cross-lab collaboration. There is a clear link between innovation and access to data intelligence.
Author: Iwona A Kandpal is an Industrial Digital Technologies (IDT) Adviser madesmarter.uk