Digital Twins for Primary Packaging

The companies Gerresheimer and Merck want to optimize supply chains in the pharmaceutical sector with the help of newly developed digital twins.

Gerresheimer, a supplier of pharmaceutical and cosmetics packaging as well as drug delivery systems, and the pharmaceutical company Merck have jointly developed a solution for the use of a so-called „digital twin“. This is designed to optimize the traceability and reliability of data at critical points along the pharmaceutical supply chain. According to the companies, digital twin technology for primary packaging has the potential to transform the pharmaceutical supply chain from the ground up. Through a single network, those involved in the process are expected to benefit from full traceability and digital reliability. Process automation could lead to cost savings, quality improvements and even new business models, they said.

„We are convinced that our primary packaging will become the key to enable supply networks across organizations and lead to faster process operations and data-informed decision making,“ said Daniel Diezi, Vice President, Digitalization & New Business Models at Gerresheimer.

Primary packaging contains „key“

With the jointly developed solution, the physical primary packaging is provided with a secure „key“ through which the connection to the associated digital twin is established. During their „journey“ through the supply chain – from production to the patient – primary packaging, such as syringes or ampoules, connect and collect important data linked to their unique identifier. They thus become a valuable source of information, containing data from different digital ecosystems and enabling more efficient collaboration between different organizations within the supply network.

The new solution applied to Gerresheimer’s products uses a blockchain-based platform and multi-patented authentication technologies from Merck to securely anchor physical objects in the digital world. Combined with Industry 4.0 standards, this is a highly robust and reliable solution, the companies emphasize.

The joint Gerresheimer and Merck project includes syringes with secure and unique identifiers, a smartphone app and access to the digital twin’s functions via Merck’s digital platform. The smartphone app is accessible to authorized stakeholders such as brand owners (marketing authorization holders) and quality assurance representatives at the manufacturer. After authenticating the syringe and scanning the unique identifier, authorized individuals can access the stored quality and root cause analysis data as well as processing functions for customer complaints.

Further partners sought

Gerresheimer and Merck announced their intention to involve further process participants in order to develop additional seamless multi-party solutions to realize the full potential and fully cover traceability from production to point-of-care. Once other parties such as contract manufacturers, logistics service providers and regulatory authorities also adopt this solution, the uses of the automated business logic can be extended, for example to M2M applications that enable the automated creation of certificates and their exchange between different organizations.