How Geistlich Pharma tackles Industry 4.0

Could 3D printers be used to produce bone replacements, precisely and just in time, at whichever hospital in the world they are needed? Paul Note, CEO of Geistlich Pharma and speaker at Exporter Demain, the event for exporters from Romandie, explain how his middle-sized Swiss life science company is taking on the challenge of the fourth industrial revolution.
About the digitization challenges facing Geistlich Pharma AG
Paul Note, CEO Geistlich Pharma.

Mr Note, What does Industry 4.0 mean for your company?

Industry 4.0 affects different sectors in different ways. Let me give you a couple of examples. Application techniques and new 3D print technologies are being evaluated for tissue and bone replacement solutions. Possibilities are being tested all the time and corresponding developments followed up. Web shops are playing a growing role in certain markets and for users who are already familiar with products. A specific labeling system and a packaging tracking system are currently undergoing testing. These should help to quickly identify imitation products and meet the impending regulatory requirements.

Geistlich Pharma is increasingly using social media for communication and bringing digital communities into the discussion. Corporate topics, service and product innovations and "soft news“ all have their place here. Recruitment of suitable experts is being targeted through channels such as LinkedIn. Increasing interaction across these channels shows that the service is meeting a need. Geistlich has had a very favorable response to the provision of webinars offered in cooperation with high-profile key opinion leaders from dentistry. A large community of up to 400 people per webinar used the service.

How will digitization affect international collaboration?

Geistlich Pharma has developed a wide network with its relevant partners. More and more, whether these are partners from universities or industry, dialogue between cooperations is taking place on a digital level. Employees and partners are therefore able to easily participate in the generation of knowledge.

An ongoing initiative relates to education at Geistlich Pharma. This may be important in developing trust and distinguishing us from our competitors. A newly formed team evaluates customers’ needs and takes care of topics and platforms. Much of Geistlich’s product range requires explanation and training. This is where the Training & Education business unit plays an important role. E-learning, new media and interactive tools are also important – animated films for clinicians and patients, for example. Generally speaking, today’s customers are hungry for knowledge and furthermore make every effort to publish their knowledge. Customers are highly visible and extremely familiar with new media and their uses.

“Digital transformation”, “the fourth industrial revolution” or “Industry 4.0” are buzzwords describing complex transformation processes that affect more than IT or production. When tackling such a change inside, where should companies start?

From Geistlich Pharma’s point of view it is imperative to wait for the right time to take the appropriate measures. Is a development a short-term trend or a trail-blazing innovation? Qualified, experienced specialists are of great benefit to us in making these distinctions. Employees must be prepared and willing to contribute to the change. Of course know-how is also decisive for implementation and our company has set in motion appropriate change processes.

About Geistlich Pharma AG

Geistlich Pharma AG develops, produces and markets medical products for restoring bones, cartilage and soft tissue, as well as medicines. The Swiss company, which has three business units - Geistlich Biomaterials, Geistlich Surgery and Geistlich Medical – based at Wolhusen and Root in Switzerland, has been owned by the same family since 1851 and is part of the Geistlich Group. Geistlich Pharma AG has established a global distribution network through its ten subsidiaries and 60-plus distributors. The steadily growing company employs around 450 people worldwide. For many years the company has been the global market leader in dental medicine.

Numerous departments and groups have adopted initiatives in the context of Industry 4.0. Some have identified the areas for action, others have already proposed a solution. In recent years Geistlich Pharma has initiated numerous measures and projects to lend its support to the industry’s digital transformation. Over the years the profile of Geistlich’s product consumers has also changed, from purely science-orientated medics, to technology-savvy, networked business partners. Both areas within the firm are affected, with a particular impact on Research & Development, Logistics & Sales, Training & Education and Information & Communication.


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