“Making the Factory of the Future a Reality”
Philippe Luscan, Executive Vice President, Global Industrial Affairs, explains what the future looks like in the Framingham factory.
How is digital technology revolutionizing industrial affairs?
The facility is fully digitally powered from end to end and uses millions of data captured by sensors throughout the facility to continually optimize our manufacturing.
As a result of automated data capture, we have real time access to production data from anywhere in the world, while a “digital twin” allows site managers to make adjustments on the go and simulate manufacturing process changes. We also use the digital twin as a training tool where operators, managers, and supervisors can interact with the process, the equipment, and the software in this virtual environment before they do so live.
The technology in this site allows us to get an even more accurate picture of what’s going on in the manufacturing process. The “Smart Quality” technology allows us to monitor the whole process and conduct completely digital batch record reviews to ensure the highest quality for our products. The real time, data-driven supply chain tool enables us to digitize forecasting, allowing us to adapt our production and optimize stocks and logistics.
Instead of having to collect data, employees can access it whenever and wherever they need it.
Will Sanofi transform its entire global industrial network?
Framingham is just one of our production sites in the world and is the most advanced of the six pilot sites we selected to test digital technologies. What we achieved here paves the way for the transformation of our global industrial network in which we are investing €1 billion every year over the last five years. Our objective is to roll the digital transformation out globally within the next three to five years.
In addition to digitalization, we have invested in the development of our biologics production capabilities to keep pace with their growing importance in our pipeline. As a result of our investments in biologics active ingredients production, we have become one of the top companies in this field. We have also heavily invested to maintain our leadership position in injectable biologics.
The Industrial Affairs team is an essential link between R&D and patients. This is critical to support the evolution of our R&D pipeline and ensure readiness for the production of increasingly complex medicines and vaccines of the highest quality, while remaining economically accessible.
What are Biologics?
Biologics─such as antibodies, proteins or enzymes─are large molecules, often 200 to 1,000 times the size of “classical” small molecules used in chemical drugs. They are engineered by nature or by scientists, and can only be made using living cells in a fermentation process that is not unlike brewing beer. They have been largely used in vaccines and to mimic insulin, significantly improving the lives of people living with diabetes since the 1990s. People with rare genetic diseases have also benefitted from enzyme replacement therapy pioneered by Sanofi Genzyme at the beginning of the 1980s.
Currently, approximately two-thirds of its Research and Development pipeline is composed of biologics and Sanofi’s ambition is to reach 70% over the next five to 10 years. To keep pace with research advances and the growing importance of biologics─which have longer manufacturing times and more complex processes than chemistry-based drugs─Sanofi has made significant investments over the last five years to ramp up its biologics capabilities.