Step-By-Step Fit For The Digital Future

Richard Howells

The pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry must ensure process security, comply with strict global regulations, and quickly react to new market requirements. This is a challenging conundrum.

This is definitely true for Swiss-based Ypsomed Group, a leading developer and manufacturer of injection and infusion systems for self-medication and a renowned diabetes specialist with over 30 years of experience in the marketplace.

The company name reflects its expertise: “ipso” means “self” and “med” stands for medication. Hence, this perfectly illustrates its core business: to market innovative, high-quality, and reliable products and services that allow millions of people with diabetes worldwide to administer their own medication in a safe and simple way and enjoy the best possible quality of life.

We recently had the chance to discuss Ypsomed’s strategy for digital transformation with the company’s head of IT services, Fernand Portenier.

Digitization as a differentiator

Q: How do you see your company leveraging digitization?

A: Early on, we realized that we needed transparent end-to-end processes, complete and paperless documentation, as well as reliable tracking and tracing of materials and equipment to strengthen and expand our competitive edge, especially in a high-wage country like Switzerland. Digital processes are only efficient when the necessary material and product data are available in a digital and appropriate format.

Q: How did you decide where to start the journey?

A: A step-by-step approach appeared appropriate. The first step to digitization was the introduction of an integrated document management system. Materials, work plans, equipment, and functional locations can now easily be mapped to business processes as purchasing, order management, manufacturing, maintenance, and others, so that employees can organize, classify, and quickly retrieve them without delay. As the documents are only maintained once in the IT system, they can be used for multiple other processes via referencing.

Q: How did you build on this foundation?

A: Once the documents were digitized, we started to create digital twins of equipment. This allows more efficient product development and was the prerequisite to be able to offer innovative products and services. Just like other enterprises, the company builds on a three-tier digital twin model – the “how to be a twin,” the “how it is a twin,” and the “how it runs as a twin.”

Q: What technologies did you use to create these digital twins?

A: To organize data and enable us to create digital twins within the equipment lifecycle, we decided to leverage a product lifecycle management (PLM) solution along with an engineering control center (ECTR) integration platform. For us, the PLM is the organizational frame for a successful implementation of digital twins and for the digitization of our entire enterprise.

We integrated the construction data from our CAD systems into the PLM via the ECTR platform. This allows us to implement individual solutions in an easy, fast, and economical way.

Q: What is next in your digital journey?

A: Further expansion of the digital twins is without question, such as for products and production tools, 3D-navigation in ERP, and augmented reality scenarios.

Today, there are numerous digital equipment lifecycle projects underway, including products, tools, machines, equipment, shop floor, and buildings.

Ypsomed also sees improvements in patient care enabled by new Internet of Things (IoT) scenarios. For example, in the future, the company plans to offer products that monitor therapies and alert patients in case of anomalies or other health-related implications. Seeing the huge achievements we have made so far, we will continue our journey to digitization. We are convinced that this will be highly beneficial for our customers, employees, and business partners.

Digitization enables a path into a more secure future that supports Ypsomed’s mission: deliver innovative, reliable, and easy-to-use products to contribute to maximum therapy success and improved quality of life with modern patient-care concepts. Moreover, it opens up opportunities to establish IoT scenarios.

To learn more about how to drive sustainable supply chain processes, download the IDC report Leveraging Your Intelligent Digital Supply Chain.”


About Richard Howells

Richard Howells is a Vice President at SAP responsible for the positioning, messaging, AR , PR and go-to market activities for the SAP Supply Chain solutions.