Productivity for Pharma


Optimal Automation has highlighted its ability to automate and improve the productivity of fluidised bed dryers, following the upgrade of a legacy control system to a PLC and networked SCADA system on a large FBD, for a major blue chip pharmaceutical client. By closely working with the client, in relation to optimising the efficiency of plant operation, Optimal have been able to deliver a staggering 50% increase in productivity for the FBD.

"We automate and improve the performance and productivity of all types of FBD: large and small, fully automatic and semi automatic, new build and refurbished, solvent and non solvent based," said Martin Gadsby, a Director of Optimal. "Using a range of automation vendor hardware and software, the systems we have supplied range from those with very traditional push button controls, through to systems with HMI interfaces, to those with full-blown Client Server SCADA and even DCS."

The replacement of a legacy control system, in the most recent of Optimal's FBD projects, involved a control strategy that encompassed not only tower automation, but also all the batching of raw materials, including dispensary control, together with tracking of raw materials and finished product in IBCs. The system supplied by Optimal to achieve these objectives has a Siemens PCS7 at its heart, in a server arrangement with four clients and an engineering station. The PCS7 has a fully integrated recipe system, and produces batch reports that are used as part of the total batch release documentation set. The investment by the pharmaceutical manufacturer in the Optimal solution has been paid back swiftly, via the 50% increase in productivity that has been achieved.

In another recent project, a leading manufacturer of pharmaceuticals installed Optimal's synTQ® PAT (Process Analytical Technology) Data Management system on a fluidised bed drier. The initial objective of the installation was to determine if positive gains could be made, in terms of the consistency of quality and in terms of reducing processing time, by using real time moisture monitoring and control to reduce the cycle time and determine in real time the process end point.

In this project, synTQ® was used in combination with a 3rd party multivariate analysis (MVA) product and a NIR instrument.

The project was not however just simple end point determination - by building Orchestrations (PAT Methods), Process Models, and gaining process understanding, the client was able to determine - in real time - the drying phases that were occurring in the drier. He was then able, by means of the Orchestrations within synTQ®, together with a 3rd party control system and the OPC connection from synTQ®, to design an application that controlled the drying temperature in line with the stage of the process, as determined by synTQ®, and introduce real-time dryer end point control. The system has proved to be very successful, and has, once again, delivered a short payback time, maximising ROI.

This was a relatively simple 1st PAT project for the client, however having started with a simple project that proved the worth of PAT, the client has gained PAT deployment experience and skills, and they have proved to themselves that the technology works and can deliver very real benefits. They now intend to optimise other aspects of their processes by using PAT.

Photo Captions

Picture 1: An Example of Data Management system on a fluidised bed drier.

Picture 2: Optimal Automation is now one of the leading developers and integrators of Process Analytical Technology (PAT) solutions for the Life Sciences and Chemical sectors using its own in-house developed synTQ® data management software.