Case Study: FactoryTalk Batch Integration into a Control System for a Pharmaceutical Company
A large pharmaceutical company was commissioning and testing a new control system that was limited to providing only manual control of Equipment Modules. In some cases, manual control of Phases was available, with these Phases operating as coordination Equipment Modules but not having the infrastructure capable of interacting with a standard sequencing engine. To run a Batch Process the operators were required to manually enter recipe values and capture report information via an HMI, while tracking all activities in the various units. This allowed significant opportunities for operator errors (errors in setting parameters, errors in running the Equipment Modules in the correct sequence, or, in some cases, the physical inability to run multiple Equipment Modules at the same time).
ECS Solutions recommended and subsequently undertook the addition of a sequencing engine that not only stores the recipes (which contained the order in which the phases should be executed) but also stores all pertinent Parameter Values. With this modification, the operator is required simply to select a recipe together with all the equipment needed to run the batch. The batch engine is responsible for coordinating all the activities, including the parameter value transfer and Report information capture. The system also has the capability to prompt the operator regarding those tasks that require operator interaction. The installation of the addition did not interfere with any existing activities and all the existent code and functionality was preserved, with no changes being required.
ECS Solutions proposed the integration of FactoryTalk Batch to provide an automation layer that reliably sets Equipment Module and phase parameters, at the right time, every time. The commissioning activities related to the Equipment Modules and phases were able to proceed while FactoryTalk Batch was implemented. An area model was created in FactoryTalk Batch by ECS Solutions, with the model representing the equipment in the existing process area. The phase classes and phases represented the (existing) individual PLC Equipment Modules and PLC phases. ECS then created the wrapper logic required to allow FactoryTalk Batch to properly control these existing equipment modules and phases. This provided a control system capable of executing recipes without an operator having to manually enter parameters or start equipment. The reliability and repeatability of the existing control system were dramatically improved by the elimination of the opportunities for human error.
The existing FactoryTalk View ME (Machine Edition) client application was migrated to a networked FactoryTalkView SE (Site Edition) application. ThinManager was also integrated into the control system, and the existing PanelView displays were replaced with ThinManager compatible VersaView panel displays. These changes allowed for central management of all clients, significantly reducing the rollout time for any changes that needed to be made to the HMI display.
A major challenge facing ECS Solutions in providing this solution was the synchronization of onsite and offsite activities, as the site engineers worked on testing and commissioning the various Equipment Modules. On occasion, changes to PLC architecture required that certain Equipment Modules and Phases be moved from PLC to PLC. At other times Equipment Modules, under review by the onsite team, required functionality changes that necessarily were passed to the (off-site) FactoryTalk Batch solution development team. All wrapper logic for the phases was written generically to allow an easier rollout of that logic to all instances of a modified Equipment Module or phase class. Although a significant effort was underway onsite, the installation and startup of the FactoryTalk Batch layer were completed without impacting or hindering those activities. ECS Solutions coordinated these efforts and installed the FactoryTalk Batch control system without significant interruption to the ongoing commissioning activities.
The addition of FactoryTalk Batch to the control system has allowed the pharmaceutical company to author version-controlled, electronic recipes that execute consistently from batch to batch. FactoryTalk Batch has also enabled a wealth of historical data to be logged in the form of batch records and reports, including electronic signatures at key times in the process. The modification has allowed the company to maximize the utilization of its equipment. Using eProcedure prompts allows operators to review and respond, providing them with detailed photographs of equipment for absolute clarity. Furthermore, using FactoryTalk Batch recipes to drive CIP processes not only simplified the use of the CIP system but also established repeatable, consistent cleaning cycles. This has dramatically accelerated the commissioning and validation of those systems.
In the future the company may consider (1) integration of a Campaign Manager to interface with an ERP system such as SAP or Oracle, and/or (2) the integration of material management and tracking components to capture material information such as lot number, quantity, etc.