New taskforce will help pharma and medtech groups use tech to boost manufacturing

West Pharmaceutical Services says initiative can make Ireland ‘a powerful exponent’ in new digital technologies

A new industry-led taskforce has been established to help multinational pharma and medtech companies in Ireland to make the most of new digital technologies to improve their manufacturing processes.

The taskforce, named the Visual Cognitive Manufacturing Group, will help companies to take advantage of technologies such as artificial intelligence to boost their competitiveness globally as part of an Industry 4.0 network, it said on Tuesday.

Industry 4.0 refers to the combination of advanced manufacturing techniques and the internet to create systems that are not only interconnected but also communicate with each other, as well as analyse and use information to drive further intelligent action back in the physical world.

The launch of the strategy took place on Tuesday at Limerick-based Digital Manufacturing Ireland (DMI). The industry-wide event also involved Enterprise Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland, third-level institutions and world-leading vendors.


Working within the DMI, the group will support the industry to deploy new technologies to improve the manufacturing processes for Irish-based medical device and pharmaceutical companies competing at a global level.

The group includes companies such as West Pharmaceutical Services, Boston Scientific, Medtronic, Abbott and Johnson & Johnson. There are also a number of academics involved.

West Pharmaceutical Services said the initiative can help position Ireland as “a powerful exponent” in new digital manufacturing technologies.

Bill O’Leary, director of global operations, manufacturing digitalisation, at West Pharmaceutical Services, said it was “critically important” that companies are “outward-facing and engaging with the best practitioners and exponents in these areas”.

“We have significant in-house expertise in some of these areas, but the benefit of dealing with shared challenges together with other pre-eminent medical device companies is one that must not be overlooked,” he said.

DMI chief executive Domhnall Carroll said: “The reason for establishing this centre of excellence is to support our activities in placing Ireland at the forefront of next-generation manufacturing.

“This is where AI-based technologies, in particular computer vision systems, will be fundamental to both the long-term sustainability of Ireland’s manufacturing base and to the ability to increase our value add in global supply chains.”

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson is an Irish Times reporter