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A scientist working with a microsoft in the foreground and an out of focus computer screen in the background. Source: shutterstock.com/Maksim Shmeljov

Mobile computing needs of pharmaceutical manufacturing under the microscope

Written by Mike Willett, Key Account Manager - Manufacturing and Logistics, UK & Ireland for Panasonic TOUGHBOOK

Mobile computing needs of pharmaceutical manufacturing under the microscope

The incredible challenge of developing and then mass manufacturing vaccines for the Pandemic placed the pharmaceutical industry under the microscope of the world’s scrutiny like never before. Many of us imagined our greatest scientific minds in their labs at work – under unimaginable pressure as they worked tirelessly for a breakthrough, before then testing and onto full scale production. Pharma manufacturers achieved in 12 months, what would traditionally have taken years. One element of this success was the investment in technology to upgrade IT infrastructure to enable them to process data at a much faster rate.

Of course, as in many industries today, mobile computing is as much an essential tool as the pipette and test tube for those working in the pharmaceutical industry. But because of the unique environment, our lab technicians and pharma manufacturers require a particular type of computing device to meet their needs. They are the very definition of power users with the need to be mobile, connected and have processing power at their fingertips.

So, just what are the challenges when selecting a successful device for the pharma lab or production environment?
 

A lab technician using a clipboard and pen to check equipment settings
Cleaning solution being poured onto a paper towel held in a hand with a latex glove. Image source: Shutterstock.com/Nehris

Mobility with computing power

Pharma users need a device that is light enough to move with them around the lab or production environment but also has the processing power and memory to cope with complex data sets and information. Rugged Windows laptops or two-in-one with devices, with large 12-inch screens, are ideal for this purpose. They can be used in laptop or tablet mode and offer all the computing power any pharma user could need. To support the long worker hours, a device with a long battery life and hot-swappable capabilities, is also an essential criteria to support a worker through a day.

 

Tough and easy to sanitise

Computing devices in a pharma environment suffer from all the usual knocks and scrapes of any workplace, so a rugged device is always useful, but one major challenge that is more difficult to overcome is the need to be able to sanitise. It’s important to look for devices that are minimum IP65 rated against water and dust ingress. Panasonic also tests and evaluates its devices against the most common disinfectants used in the pharma industry. The test procedure is to wipe each area on the device 10,000 times with the liquid solution at a pressure of 1 kfg/cm2 for 10,000. On top of this, buyers should look for the manufacturers with a track record of the lowest industry failure rates (independently tested), the strongest warranties, a European repair centre and a local network of engineers for peace of mind.

TOUGHBOOK G2 screen being cleaned by a hand wearing a latex glove

A touchscreen that works with wet hands and gloves

Touchscreen devices typically don’t respond well when wet from being regularly santised or when used with gloves. So, buyers should look for devices that are built for operation in this environment. For example, our capacitive touch screens are designed to be easily used when wet, and by gloved hands or with a Digitiser Pen – avoiding user frustrations and inaccuracies.

 

Tailored to their specific needs

Mobile computing devices in the pharma industry are used for many purposes and carrying around multiple devices just isn’t an option. So, another important consideration is the ability to adapt and integrate the device with any peripherals that might be needed. For example, barcode readers for ingredient logging or supply chain purposes and smartcard readers for security identification. Alongside this capability, Panasonic also has a team of in-house engineers available to work with you to create any specific professional solutions that might be required – from new integrations or application development, right through to device colour and branding choices. 

Designed for use in extreme temperatures

Many pharma production environments require products to be kept at extremely low temperatures, just like some of the vaccines. So, ensuring that your chosen devices can also work in extreme temperatures is key. Panasonic TOUGHBOOK devices are ideal for extreme working, able to operate in temperatures ranging from -29° to 60°C.

 

Our experience of working with major pharmaceutical companies and manufacturers over the past 20 years has provided us with the insight to understand just what mobile workers and their IT support teams require from a mobile device. We collaborate with our customers, discuss their challenges and developing our products to meet their needs. It’s an essential list of ingredients that not every manufacturer can provide. If you have a pharma mobile computing challenge, why not see if Panasonic has the cure?

Drill down into the TOUGHBOOK solutions for Pharma on our dedicated Pharma Manufacturing resource page.

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If you would like to discuss any of the topics featured on this blog or want one of our experts to get in touch to see how we can help with your IT mobility challenges, then please use the Contact Us button to get in touch.

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