Different Strokes for Different Folks

Written by: Trevor McClay (June 28th, 2019)

Industrial automation is adopted at different rates by different companies and at Actemium Automation we focus on the customer’s expectations in terms of the pace of their automation journey.  An excellent example is a current project delivered by our Nathan Bowles who has just successfully completed the Factory Acceptance Testing (FAT) phase of the project with excellent feedback from the customer and very few changes required.

The project is in relation to a Life Sciences company who manufacture under GAMP 5 (GAMP stand for Good Automated Manufacturing Practice), a standard defining a set of industry best practices to enable compliance to all current regulatory expectations.

The customer originally had a fully manual system of manufacture where the operators were responsible for every part of the process and the recording of every input and output of the process.  The products are manufactured in batches and hence the standard modern approach would employ a fully automated batch system that uses recipe data to automatically control and sequence the manufacturing process.  This would have been a giant leap for the customer and so the initial project involved the automation of the various phases of the project where a phase would be a series of actions carried with specific sets of equipment and ingredients to move the product to the next stage of manufacture.

With the various phases now automated the responsibility of the operator revolved around running the various phases in the correct sequence and recording the information associated with each phase.

The next phase we are just completing has delivered the automation of the overall batch processing operation i.e. we start the various phases automatically based on a defined sequence that is dependent on the product being manufactured and the operator now simply selects and starts a ‘batch’ which will then run automatically to completion of the production run and prompt the operator when manual intervention is required.

Collation and recording of batch information is still largely a manual task at this point but the next phase of the project is intended to address this aspect and provide automated batch reporting.

This is not a typical approach but is necessary to move the customers operations and the operations personnel to an automated, efficient production process at a pace that is manageable for the customer and demonstrates Actemium Automation flexibility in being able to tailor solutions to match the customer requirements without inflicting major disruption.