EIF 2023 Review – Automation in Spain

Author photo: Thomas Menze and Constanze Schmitz
ByThomas Menze and Constanze Schmitz
Industry Trends

ARC’s European Industry Forum, part of the successful series of worldwide conferences in Europe, America and Asia, has been held in Sitges (Barcelona), Spain on May 15 - 17, 2023. The event offered exclusive presentations and workshops on strategies and case studies in line with this year’s topic “Managing Industry Evolution in Times of Global Disruption” to its 160 international participants from 20 countries.

Automation in the Spanish Pharmaceutical Industry

The objective of the Spanish track was to discuss with suppliers and users from the pharmaceutical industry in Spain, determine the status of their automation and to consider which digital concepts can be used in the future. The focus was on Module Type Package (MTP) and Industrial Cyber Security.

Most pharmaceutical plants in Spain follow the classic approach of the automation pyramid. Five hierarchical levels in the automation pyramid control the plants. Additional digital methods are rarely used. The integrity of these plants is high because few interfaces are used for external networking. In this configuration, cyber security management is handled by the IT department.  In the medium term, however, there is a risk that these plants will lose competitiveness in a global comparison. This applies to the areas of energy efficiency, flexibility in production and vulnerability to attack by cyber criminals.

Therefore, it can be said that the concept of modular plants has not yet established itself in the Spanish pharmaceutical industry. Concepts such as "Plug&Produce", i.e. pre-tested apparatus are used, but this is not yet true modularity. Nevertheless, local users are watching the trend closely, because sooner or later this will be an important criterion for keeping plants in Spain competitive in a global comparison.


In the discussion with the Spanish users, the following points in especially were rated as important for the future:

  • Pre-tested modules shorten commissioning and Time-to-Market.
  • Scalability of plant technology in terms of production capacity and flexibility.
  • Cost reduction through reuse of modules.
  • Multivendor automation with one central operation.

As issues, in the introduction of modular plants, the following points were mentioned:

  • Prior knowledge of modular plants.
  • IT / OT - responsibilities in the company.
  • Cybersecurity situation is difficult to assess.
  • Local support in Spain.


ARC’s European Industry Forum & Platform

We like to thank our sponsors, who supported the ARC EIF 2023, and all our speakers and presenters, who made the event interesting, exciting and memorable.`

To complement the Forum, ARC Europe offers its online platform https://arc-industry-forum-europe.arcweb.com/en/, accessible 365 days a year. Its goal is to maintain the flow of information, and to foster network opportunities. On the platform you will find information concerning relevant economic developments and information on automation markets, as well as our quarterly industry webinars. 

Materials and presentations from the Forum will be made available on our platform https://arc-industry-forum-europe.arcweb.com/en/ after registration, depending on the package chosen. Forum attendees can download presentation slides, view video recordings and receive further materials on the platform.

For more information, please contact Ann-Kathrin Blech (mailto:ablech@arcweb.com).



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