Sustainable, efficient manufacturing is driven by data – Key insights help you reduce the environmental footprint of your operations


VP at Optimal Industrial Technologies, Optimal Industrial Technologies, Bristol, United Kingdom


The pharmaceutical sector is here to help people live healthier lives. But without a healthy planet, this action is compromised. Therefore, pharmaceutical manufacturers should act now to reduce their emissions and contribute to ambitious net zero targets. By adopting data-driven technologies that characterise Industry 4.0, such as Process Analytical Technology (PAT), companies can reduce the environmental impact of their processes and products. They can also futureproof their facilities, improving their profitability and competitiveness in an increasingly challenging and demanding marketplace.

Pharmaceutical production is one of the largest producers of greenhouse gasses (GHG) in the manufacturing industry, exceeding even the emissions of the global automotive sector. In fact, data suggests that the aggregate global emissions of the two in 2015 amounted to about 52 MMt-CO2e and 46.4 MMt-CO2e respectively (1).

One of the reasons for the extended environmental impact of pharmaceutical manufacturing lies in the chemicals used. These are often hazardous and require processing prior to disposal, further increasing the carbon footprint and the volume of waste generated.

There is a further differentiator between the pharmaceutical and automotive sectors that greatly contributes to increasing the emissions of the first. This is the level of digitalisation, an aspect that has been the pillar of effective car manufacturing for years but is still lacking in pharmaceutical companies. The automotive industry has long been using highly interconnected robots and automation systems, predictive and workflow-managing algorithms, process and product visualisation, as well as monitoring and control technologies.

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