Pharmaceutical Manufacturing: Inside an Industry on the Frontline of Change

From U.S. and global politics to pioneering scientific advances, there’s not much happening in the world today that is not having an impact on pharmaceutical manufacturing. As a result, what has historically been an industry resistant to transformation is now undergoing change on all fronts.

Following are a just a few of the pressing changes and challenges most affecting pharmaceutical manufacturing today:

  • Higher consumer expectations
  • Increase in number of prescriptions
  • Increase in consumer acceptance of generics
  • Increase in challenges to patents
  • Need to focus on emerging markets for growth
  • Inability to sell high-price drugs in markets essential for growth
  • Possibility of less regulation
  • Upcoming new regulation
  • Technological advancements
  • Protest and court battles over price increases
  • Decrease in potential for blockbuster drug
  • Increase in the need for specialization

The question is: How must pharmaceutical manufacturers adapt – not merely to respond to these changes and challenges in order to survive, but to leverage them for a competitive advantage and greater overall success?

Here’s what companies on the frontline of change are doing to succeed in what has always been an extremely complex manufacturing environment:

Revisiting the Business Model

Traditionally, pharmaceutical companies have relied on regular price increases to bolster sales growth and remain attractive to investors. But public outcry (along with a couple of high-profile lawsuits), increasing numbers of prescriptions being written and rising consumer confidence in generics, have all resulted in a new focus on volume over price in order to achieve sustainable growth.

While focusing on volume makes a much stronger case to investors who generally prefer to fund growth based on something substantive, this potential shift is only one of many aspects of the pharmaceutical business model worth reexamining. What makes doing this especially challenging is that the culture, strategies and methods on which pharmaceutical manufacturing companies have long relied have already been surpassed by new ways of working. This means that – just as in every manufacturing industry operating today – it will be those companies willing to invest the most in taking on the future that will rise above.

Reinventing Inventory Management

Successfully entering emerging markets for new sources of revenue, along with addressing drug-specific challenges such as temperature control for biologics, meeting the fast-approaching serialization regulations and much more, are requiring pharmaceutical manufacturers to apply new thinking to inventory management.

From ensuring each geographic region served has the least overhead possible and consolidating their ERP footprint to realizing end-to-end visibility and employing blockchain technology, pharmaceutical manufacturers are exploring all kinds of ways to be on the cutting edge of inventory innovation. And, of course, it is impossible for them (or any manufacturer) to bring inventory management to the next level without also transforming the supply chain.

Activating the Supply Chain

There is a great need for pharmaceutical manufacturers to activate their supply chains, enabling them to make predications and take appropriate action independently. Supply chain automation tools that rely on and apply cloud, big data and machine learning promise serious return on investment and have pharmaceutical manufacturers more ready than ever before to put the future of smart technology to work for them today.

Unlikely Partnerships

High-tech drugs and drug delivery systems are becoming ever more important aspects of patient safety, as well as essential players in ensuring scientific breakthroughs are able to be implemented in the first place. As a result, pharmaceutical manufacturers are becoming more and more dependent on advances in medtech to help them remain competitive – and this is leading to some very unusual new partnerships.

Thanks to collaborations with unlikely partners such as mobile device manufacturers, for example, pharmaceutical manufacturers are now developing holistic products that not only treat patients but also help with diagnostics, monitoring and compliance.

The Bottom Line

In the face of significant pressure to change from multiple directions and in multiple ways at once, the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry provides a great example for all manufacturers seeking to thrive in today’s complex, uncertain and competitive environment.

In fact, what’s happening in pharmaceutical manufacturing provides ample proof that the future is indeed approaching fast and being prepared to respond (and being one of the first to do so) may truly be the deciding factor of survival for many manufacturers over the next decade.

While publications and conferences in all manufacturing sectors have long been providing forums for discussing the future, action is what’s needed now.

It’s no longer viable to wait to employ new technologies, increase efficiency and reduce risk – and it will be those who make the commitment to always remain on the frontline of change that consistently realize the biggest return.

Helping manufacturers determine the best path forward and implement the equipment, processes and systems that will allow them to seize opportunities, increase efficiency, reduce risk and achieve next level growth is our strength. If you’re a manufacturing company seeking a partner you can count on, contact Jim Solich at

We hired EFI Group to help us figure out a project and scope it, and I felt confident they would keep a keen eye on it. They had to deliver quickly and they did it well. They are especially good at project management when you don’t have the resources to do it internally. Reliability is the word I would use to describe EFI Group.
— Coatings Industry Professional
EFI Group is timely. We’ve had a lot of situations when we’ve been in a time crunch and they’ve responded very quickly. They are detail oriented and efficient. They’re a good group of people who also have a lot of strength in pre-engineering — the thought process to get to preliminary design and making sure we’ve investigated all the potential asks of a project to ensure we didn’t miss anything. They have great attention to detail up front which is very important to any project because having that detail-oriented deep dive into the pre-engineering phase sets the stage for the success of the rest of the project, making the process smoother and making it much easier to keep the project on schedule and on budget.
— Mike Quigley, Engineering & Maintenance Manager, Food Industry
I’ve worked with EFI Group for a while, so I know they have a good, knowledgeable staff. We know we’re going to get the results from them we expect. From my interactions with all the different EFI team members I’ve worked with, I know they have knowledge across many industries. Equally, I never have to follow up with EFI Group and, in some cases, they keep me on track.
— Ryan Fredsall, General Manager, Pacer Minerals LLC
We view EFI Group as a team that can dimensionalize our capability to execute projects. We can articulate what it is we want to do and they can take that input and run with it without much intervention from us. They’re able to move a project along independently and only engage us when it’s time to bring us up to speed or get more input to drive a project to conclusion. That’s one of the reasons I view them as an excellent contractor.
— Environmental Engineering Industry Professional
EFI Group has good engineers and good customer service. We know when we get an EFI engineer on a project, we’re going to a get a good job from them and it’s been a productive relationship for both of us — I genuinely like the people.
— Corporate Director, Project Management in Food & Flavors Industry
Previous slide
Next slide

Get Our


Go Inside Industry

Get manufacturing news, resources and updates.


We value the opportunity to talk with you about your manufacturing initiatives and how we can support you in achieving your goals. To schedule a conversation, simply fill out the form and we’ll be in touch to schedule a time that’s convenient for you.

Go Inside Industry

We periodically share manufacturing news and helpful resources. Join our list to receive our updates.

Thank you for your interest in EFI Group.

To download our Capabilities One-Sheeter, simply fill out the form: