Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have been successfully adopted by some industries and have helped them benefit from significant productivity savings, increased ‘right first time’ rates, and reduced training efforts. Importantly, these technologies have also made it easier for frontline users by providing them with the information they need when they need it.
Unfortunately, AR/VR adoption in the biopharmaceutical manufacturing environment has been slower because the available software does not meet GMP requirements, and the hardware is not suitable for use in the highest grade of cleanroom environment. Additionally, the whole ecosystem in which hardware and software can be managed through their lifecycle to help fast track the adoption has not been fully considered.
BioPhorum is speaking to these issues with a new paper that will help manufacturing environments support good practices and regulated processes by using AR/VR. It will also help them take advantage of opportunities in areas such as operator training and the execution of key business processes – especially those that would benefit from being hands-free and require operators to move around the shop floor while completing their job.
The User requirements for AR/VR biopharma manufacturing paper outlines biopharmaceutical AR/VR hardware and software requirements that will stimulate collaboration between biomanufacturers and technology vendors. It will also help these vendors to construct roadmaps to unleash the potential of this technology in GMP environments.
The paper looks at hardware requirements from the angle of a specification for AR/VR devices that seeks to minimize contamination risks for that device used in classified manufacturing areas.
“This AR/VR user requirements document, which consists of a collective voice from the biopharma industry, will help AR/VR hardware and software vendors better understand our industry needs and what to address in their current offerings,” said Suelyn Lee, Product Director, Manufacturing Workflow, GSK. “We hope that this targeted approach will enable a faster adoption of AR/VR technology in our industry to make it easier for our users to do their job.”
It also considers general workflow and software requirements that should be supported by the AR/VR device supplier, a third party or the customer enterprise supplier of choice. There are also specific requirements for using AR/VR devices in clean rooms.
Comprehensive appendices then provide extra information and cover issues such as a sample of industry and regulatory expectations/requirements for items used in classified manufacturing areas. There are various challenges to using AR/VR in the biopharmaceutical industry, which are partly due to how the AR/VR market has originated and developed over the years, e.g., hardware devices are not built for use in aseptic environments. With this BioPhorum paper those challenges can be met by driving collaboration between biomanufacturers and AR/VR vendors to overcome them and help industry reap the benefits of this exciting new technology.