Alert: Automation World now enhanced for the iPad and iPhone. Watch a quick video preview
Greenfield
Factory Automation
Bassett
Batch Processing
Hand
Process Automation
Reynolds
Packaging Automation
Campbell
On the Edge
Factory & Machine Automation Playbook cover
This one-of-a-kind Factory Automation Playbook is packed with best practices, practical tips and pitfalls to avoid on a wide range of topics, from defining project objectives to selecting components to implementing technologies that can make your automated systems smarter and more productive.

 

This content was submitted directly to this Web site by the supplier.

How OPC-certified components will sharply reduce pharmaceutical integration costs

Print Reprint
     
Consultant Dennis Brandl explains why OPC Foundation’s test lab is good news for Pfizer and the pharma industry.

Dennis Brandl has done a lot of work with manufacturers in pharmaceuticals, packaged goods, steel, and electronics. One of his recent clients was Pfizer, where collecting and transmitting complex, multi-dimensional data quickly became an automation headache. Integrating control systems to collect the necessary data cost 10 times the cost of the automation components themselves—all due to interoperability issues, according to Brandl.

Brandl’s work with Pfizer was in the area of process analytical technology (PAT), which refers to how to design, analyze, and control pharmaceutical manufacturing, all in the name of quality control and ultimately patient safety. In Brandl’s words, PAT is “using the knowledge of the process itself to control the quality of the process.”

PAT requires collecting data that’s more than just single-dimensional data such as temperature or pressure. Instead, data is complex and multi-dimensional. An example might be a particle size analyzer, which will return a distribution curve—e.g., a certain percentage of particles are one micron, another percentage are two microns, and so on. Knowing when a certain threshold of particles are a certain size indicates when a granulation process is actually finished, for example.

The 10x cost multiple for integrating instrumentation and control systems to collect this type of data is slowing down the adoption of PAT in the pharma industry, said Brandl.

OPC UA paves the way for providing and communicating data in a standard interface. Integrating OPC-certified components would “cut Pfizer’s time to integrate devices by a significant chunk,” said Brandl. “Instead of integration being 10 times the cost of the devices, it night only be one or two times the cost.”

End user perspective: Why certification matters

Speaking from the perspective of automation end users like Pfizer, Brandl said “We want to have assurances in place that the pieces that are supposed to work together actually work together. Before now, there was no independent way to make sure vendors implemented the OPC UA standard in the same way. That meant there was a lot of integration effort on the end user side” to iron out interoperability problems.

The advantage of OPC’s certification lab is that “If [a product] passes the test, we have a strong assurance of interoperability, and we don’t have to worry” about spending time getting devices to work with one another.

Will certification become a purchasing driver? “I think it will as certification becomes much more common,” said Brandl. “Once you get a critical mass, say 10% to 15% of vendors certified, there will be strong pressure on everyone else, it will become a stopping point” for purchasing a given product that lacks OPC certification.
“If you don't have it you may not be able to get the jobs,” said Brandl.

“[Certification] is something that has been needed,” Brandl added, “and I'm really glad to see OPC Foundation is taking the time and effort to make sure things that are supposed to work together actually work together.”

0

Add new comment

Newsletters

Don't miss intelligence crucial to your job and business!
Click on any newsletter to view a sample. Enter your email address below to sign up!
Each newsletter ranges in frequency from once per month to a few times per month at most.
This sponsored content was submitted directly to this web site by the supplier, and was not handled by the AW editorial staff. Automation World may share your contact information with our sponsors, as detailed in our Privacy Policy. Automation World will not share your information with a sponsor whose content you have not reviewed.