Biopharmaceutical manufacturing is currently evolving with the progression of Industry 4.0. Industry 4.0 refers to the ongoing Fourth Industrial Revolution, which is currently transforming modern manufacturing and production practices through the use of ‚Äúsmart‚ÄĚ technology. This is especially appealing to the biopharmaceutical industry, where production can be a long, meticulous, complex processes, and optimizing manufacturing procedures is critical for success. As a leading supplier of single use technology for the biopharmaceutical industry, PendoTECH has recently explored how its products can be easily integrated with an industrial platform and the opportunities that this creates.
At the heart of the platform that enables PendoTECH sensors and instrumentation to be conveniently adapted to a digital highway is an intelligent automation platform (IAP). An IAP typically has analog inputs, and digital inputs/outputs, for communicating with all unit operation devices essential to manufacturing (sensors, transmitters, monitors, etc.). The IAP then uses its industrial communication capabilities (e.g. Ethernet, WiFi, RS485) to communicate with a centralized controller in the required language (MODBUS, PROFIBUS, OPC UA, etc.). This gives flexibility to the manufacturing facility to enable the correct equipment to be used when and where it is needed.
In order to demonstrate the potential of integrating a bioprocessing system with an IAP, PendoTECH assembled a sample system that measures and controls important parameters at the process instrument level. This setup is able to monitor pressure, conductivity, flow, temperature, UV absorbance/turbidity, pH, air in tube detection, weight via a scale, while also controlling pumps and valves. The system is very versatile, as everything connects seamlessly in a compact, DIN rail mountable setup.
Through research and customer interactions, PendoTECH selected an IAP with onboard WiFi, RS232, Ethernet, and RS485 connections, which can be configured to communicate in MODBUS, with OPC UA, and other popular languages. The PendoTECH equipment communicates directly with the IAP through analog and digital signals, which require additional I/O modules. Specifically, 2x analog input modules were used for reading the 4-20mA analog outputs of the transmitters and 1x digital I/O module for reading an air detector and sending commands (e.g. taring) to the applicable devices.
In summary, Industry 4.0 is creating new opportunities for automation and optimization that will continue to transform biopharmaceutical manufacturing. The example industrial system designed with PendoTECH‚Äôs single use sensor technology described above only scratches the surface of the potential of Industry 4.0 for biopharmaceutical applications. For example, there are other modules (e.g analog output module or a PID control module) that would enable further functionality, such as precise TMP control, alarm monitoring, and pump speed control. Not only can these industrial solutions reshape biopharmaceutical manufacturing, but they are easier to implement than ever before. The example industrial system above is just one of many ways to adapt PendoTECH products to a digital highway.