J. Morcillo-Bellido1 and R. Merino-Fuentes2

1 Universidad Carlos III. Av. de la Universidad, 30, 28911 Madrid, Spain.

2 GMS Management Solutions, S.L. Pl. Pablo Ruiz Picasso, 1, 28020 Madrid. Spain.

morcillo@ing.uc3m.es, ramon.96.merino@gmail.com

1. Introduction

The term Industry 4.0 (I4.0) refers to a new industrial model based on the digitization and monitoring of the operational processes [1,2,3]. There are several specific factors that lead I 4.0 development, the main one could be a change in the demand behavior according to which the consumer is asking for greater specialization and personification on products and services.

2. Objectives and Methodology

Given the nature of the topics to be investigated, it was decided to carry out a case study, a method that according to Eisenhardt (1989) is suitable for topics that have to do with business management strategic decision [4]. Six leading companies in the worldwide pharmaceutical sector have been studied (Pfizer, Roche, Novartis, Johnson & Johnson, Merck and Sanofi).

3. Case Study Analysis

3.1- Pharma Sector Introduction

Large pharmaceutical companies have currently business models based on mass production while new pharma therapies are moving to customized models.

3.2- Case Studies

During the study authors analyzed several case practices related to I4.0 in a sample of six important companies within worldwide pharma sector (see table 2).

Company Industry 4.0 related projects
Pfizer Project with IBM to transform and improve the efficiency of diagnostic tests and data capture for the Parkinson’s treatment. A system of sensors and mobile devices monitors the symptoms of the disease continuously.
Roche Company is managing an automated warehouse in Kaiseraugst, Switzerland, based on a SAP environment, controlled by a material flow and storage management system.
Novartis It has developed Chimeric Antigen Receptor T cell therapy project, based on artificial intelligence.
Johnson & Johnson Through the use of sensors, devices and protocols based on the IoT, information collection is carried out both from patients and from manufacturing processes in real time.
Merck Sharp & Dohme It has applied Hadoop, a cloud-based tool, to find an efficient solution to low yields quantities in vaccine manufacture. This solution is based on Big Data technology.
Sanofi Plants combine various technical and technological initiatives, such as the incorporation of collaborative robots to manage daily tasks.

Table 2. Industry 4.0 projects identified (Source: authors own elaboration)

4. Discussion and Conclusions

Analyzing the different practices included on the cases, it is possible to infer that I4.0 is being broadly implemented at pharma industry, nevertheless projects are still at an initial implementation phase (most of them still could be considered at pilot projects). Considering that this sample of companies represents to the most innovative pharma companies it is feasible that in a near future most of the relevant pharma companies follow same path in term of I4.0 implementation.


  1. Agrawal, M., Dutta S., Kelly, R., Millán, I.: COVID-19: An inflection point for Industry 4.0. McKinsey & Company (2021).
  2. Rojko, A.: Industry 4.0 Concept: Background and Overview. International Journal of Interactive Mobile Technologies, 11(5), 77-90 (2017).
  3. Thahjono, B., Esplugues C, Ares, E., Pelaez, G.: What does industry 4.0 mean to supply chain?. Procedia Manufacturing (13), 1175-1182 (2017).
  4. Eisenhardt, K. M.: Building theories from case study research. Academy of management review14(4), 532-550 (1989).


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Proceedings of the 15th International Conference on Industrial Engineering and Industrial Management and XXV Congreso de Ingeniería de Organización Copyright © by (Eds.) José Manuel Galán; Silvia Díaz-de la Fuente; Carlos Alonso de Armiño Pérez; Roberto Alcalde Delgado; Juan José Lavios Villahoz; Álvaro Herrero Cosío; Miguel Ángel Manzanedo del Campo; and Ricardo del Olmo Martínez is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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