The pharmaceutical sector continues to grow at an exponential rate, fueled in part by new markets that are driving innovation, such as COVID-19, which has created the need for new vaccines and pandemic-related therapeutics. Emerging technologies such as cell and gene therapies are also gaining traction and driving expansion. As this growth continues, efficiency and a high level of productivity are becoming essential tools for pharmaceutical companies that want to remain competitive. Much of what drives these effective work behaviors begins at employees’ workstations.
To this end, ARISTA, a leading provider of computing platforms and visualization display products for pharmaceutical manufacturing environments, has developed a fully mobile workspace solution that will help employees increase productivity while keeping them free to move seamlessly from point to point without the inconvenience caused by wires.
Space today comes at a premium, with smaller equipment being created and utilized to maximize efficiency in tight quarters. One mobile workstation can replace multiple fixed workstations in a space and eliminate the need for operators to walk back and forth from fixed workspaces to perform tasks such as scanning and printing barcode labels. There are also no installation costs.
“When it comes to large support systems like workstations, the ability to move the tool from one place to another maximizes its utility and reduces equipment redundancy. In addition, using mobile workstations enables rapid and easy reorganization of the work environment and process flow for more flexible management,” says Paul Shu of ARISTA Corporation, a leading provider of computing platforms and visualization display products for pharmaceutical manufacturing environments.
“However, the problem with most mobile workstations is that they aren’t truly ‘mobile.’ While they can be moved around from one place in a facility to another, they can’t be used while in motion. Each time, all power and signal cables must be disconnected, rolled, and stowed, and then stored or transported with the units, then reconnected,” he adds.
While other mobile workstations need to be plugged into the wall to function, ARISTA’s Mobile Operator Workstation can move from place to place while in operation free of wires thanks to its powerful lithium-ion battery. This battery holds a charge of 24 hours, allowing it to be used over consecutive shifts. As well, the unit can be used while charging in a stationary location if tasks are required to be accomplished beyond a 24-hour period, keeping the unit functional while it is plugged in.
Wi-Fi capability is built into the workstations to allow for uninterrupted wireless communication in all corners of the laboratory, cleanroom, and factory. In addition, most advanced pharmaceutical facilities today have Wi-Fi-based system backbones connected to legacy subsystems, meaning the workstation can communicate directly with the facility’s server.
Communication between systems is essential to complete pharmaceutical processes correctly. With a mobile workstation, manufacturing execution systems, electronic batch records (EBR), SOP, ERP, and other back-end systems can all communicate directly with wireless connections, eliminating extra steps. Wi-Fi capability makes the unit completely wireless and truly mobile, allowing for flexibility in workflow that ultimately saves workers time and energy while minimizing equipment redundancy.
“With no cables to be disconnected, managed, and reconnected, and with no break in any live or critical connections to re-establish, pharmaceutical manufacturers can save time and significantly increase productivity,” says Shu.
The unit is completely enclosed and therefore fully compliant from a regulatory standpoint, making it perfect for sensitive pharmaceutical environments like cleanrooms. Eliminating the wires means removing integrity compromises and contamination caused by connecting and reconnecting systems to move the workstation. The unit can do everything a stationary system can do while remaining mobile, reducing both infrastructure cost and deployment complexity over a desk-based system.
There is also a barcode scanner holder on both sides of the unit to accommodate right and left-hand operation, which makes it convenient when scanning a barcode to verify or identify materials and other items.
“Some of our models have space for a label printer, so you can scan the barcode and immediately print a label. This design improves work efficiency.” In fact, some estimates suggest mobile workstations increase employee collaboration in real time and can reduce wasted time and workflow interruptions by 25% or more.
The mobile workstations feature a user-friendly widescreen display that offers touch screen capability with intuitive icons to allow for ease of use.
A range of unit options is available, including varying LCD display sizes from 18 to 24 inches and single, dual, or triple screen configurations. Three industrial waterproof keyboard options are offered to meet various facility needs. For companies that require a unique solution, the workstations can be fully customized to meet specific requirements. This process can take anywhere from six to eight weeks for minor changes to several months if customization is more extensive.
With all of the demanding, evolving, and competitive dynamics in the pharmaceutical industry today, a truly mobile, wireless, self-contained workstation powered by a heavy-duty battery is the workstation of choice for convenience, safety, and efficiency in the pharmaceutical cleanroom.Shu