How Important Is Virtual Reality In The Pharmaceutical Industry ?

Published On : 02 June 2021

The revolution of Extended Reality (XR) in the tech industry is spreading like wildfire; from news media, television, healthcare to retail, and now pharma tech and manufacturing follow suit. So, what makes these inventions groundbreaking, and what do they have to give us? The term XR refers to Virtual Reality, Artificial Reality, and Mixed Reality. Simply put, it is about fusing the real and virtual worlds. Virtual Reality (VR) is an entirely interactive technology that combines reality with a virtual world at a 1:1 rate. Just as it sounds, mixed reality (MR) is a combination of the two, where the real world and digital objects interact(like interaction with holographs). And finally, Augmented Reality (AR) overlays a digital layer of knowledge on top of real-world surroundings, allowing for new ways to communicate with reality.

AR for Pharma Production

The ongoing shift towards digitalisation in the pharma industry has helped simplify operations and make technical settings effective. But now, pharma manufacturers have taken it a step further by transforming operations and instilling new ways of communicating with reality into daily work. The application of technological development in manufacturing improves the quality levels of pharmaceutical drugs. It is a case of equipment that has no right over even the slightest inaccuracy. An error often comes at a high cost, ranging from inadequate therapy to a violent reaction. The easiest way to monitor the proper functioning of machines is to use AR technologies. AR technology eliminates or minimises the likelihood of human error, which determines the quality of the pharmaceutical product. Also, human error, which decides the consistency of a pharmaceutical product, is eliminated or reduced to an extent by AR technology.

XR for Manufacturing Design

XR is particularly useful for pharmaceutical designing since using a virtual model instead of an accurate model speeds up and simplifies decision making (and any possible changes). Indeed, through VR, it is now possible to create full-scale facility settings and providing a walkthrough around a facility before it is built in real life. Just as the positive impact of AR, XR can be beneficial to spot any flow errors, test equipment, or examine critical and complex design tasks.

Such XR applications that are now being included in design decisions include:

  • Specially Engineered Style Creation & Analysis
  • Site Examination
  • Reviewing Process & Application Layouts
  • Space Administration

Operational Support and Training

Training on a production facility before development begins is costly and time-intensive. Simulating simulation processes in a simulated computer world, on the other hand, eliminates the need for physical equipment. Furthermore, visual gamification and narration will increase information retention and, as a result, reduce mistakes.

Learning drivers that are supported by AR Stimulation can be used for the following activities;

  • Virtual Learning
    This engaging learning process can increase the chances of adequate training and academic research work that helps grasp and store more knowledge.
  • Activity-Based Training
    90% of data registered in an average person’s brain daily comes from visionary memories while activating the sensory cortex, which makes this active learning process a logical source of instruction and entails higher understanding.
  • Two-way Interaction
    The biggest accomplishment is the dual interaction that creates a sense of personal connection when receiving guidance once the training is completed. This activates neutral couplings and lasting impact that adds to the adequate synchronisation.

Remote Operations

Many pharmaceutical firms have manufacturing facilities worldwide, quite miles from the offices where their consultants and researchers operate and reside. Previously, this required a lot of travel and cost. However, thanks to virtual technologies, “remote engineering” is now feasible. Experts can assist workers with repair procedures or troubleshooting without physically being present.
Primarily because AR technologies allow the users to live stream and direct operators, the specialist at the headquarters will see what the operator sees and say and show him/her what to do simultaneously. Experts at centres can remotely navigate the model and see through floors and walls to get an insight into secret installations by using the building’s immersive 3D model. In addition, they can see all of the building’s details in real-time. They will then use video chat tools to advise and share this real-time experience with operations or repair personnel. To demonstrate their case, both will “draw” on a shared screen. And it doesn’t end there; imagine the possibilities of 3D teleportation for a more futuristic (and almost sci-fi) experience. It is possible to create an avatar projected at the production site by searching for an expert’s features. As a result, it is as if a medical professional stands next to the user (though it might be slightly scary at first).

Overall, virtual applications can be used to provide operating support for:

  • Process and flow awareness
  • Remote service maintenance
  • Digital meetings
  • Virtual training prior to facility handover
  • SOP guidance and enhancement
  • GMP compliance and validation
  • 3D teleportation for expert inspections at a distance

To remain ahead of the competition, all pharmaceutical companies should incorporate XR into their everyday operations and try out various scenarios to discover the best options for their needs.



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