Italian Pharma co selects Emerson to enable a digital transformation…

FIS – Fabbrica Italiana Sintetici, a leading active pharmaceutical ingredients manufacturer, has selected Emerson to digitize operations and work processes at three manufacturing sites in Italy. With these $20m (€16.1m) contracts, Emerson will provide automation technology to help create a fully electronic manufacturing environment for increased efficiencies, quality and regulatory compliance.

“It is vital that FIS develops the right relationship to help it expand operations in a measured and prudent manner,” said Franco Moro, general manager of FIS. “Working with Emerson provides FIS with a trusted partner as we digitize work processes and invest in automation to improve production and efficiency.”

As part of its growth strategy, FIS constructed a new $123m (€100m) unit at its Termoli site, doubling capacity to produce active pharmaceutical ingredients. Emerson will implement its Syncade manufacturing execution system at the Termoli site, as well as the Montecchio facility, providing automated workflows and paperless procedures and record-keeping. Paperless manufacturing improves production efficiency and offers widespread benefits in compliance, product quality, inventory and document control, which are critical in the highly regulated pharmaceutical industry.

These two leading companies have partnered before; Emerson provided its DeltaV distributed control system to monitor and control manufacturing at the Termoli site in 2017. As part of this latest agreement, Emerson will expand the automation system to incorporate additional measurement and control instrumentation. By standardising on DeltaV across its Termoli, Montecchio and Lonigo sites, FIS aims to improve efficiency and ensure consistent operations.

“This project reinforces Emerson’s strong relationship with FIS, and, as a trusted advisor, we will continue to support its business objectives on a long-term basis,” said Mike Train, executive president of Emerson Automation Solutions. “Our expertise will help FIS further automate work processes and boost profitability across these three sites as part of a company-wide digital transformation strategy.”

The contracts are part of a 10-year strategic framework agreement signed with Emerson for the supply of its DeltaV and Syncade systems, measurement instrumentation and control valves, as well as a 10-year service agreement that covers the control systems at all three sites plus the new MES systems at Termoli and Montecchio.

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Cybersecurity and Biopharma in Ireland

Cyber-attacks are an inevitable part of modern life, so cyber-security is a major focus for process control and automation systems on plants everywhere, and particularly in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry. The ISA in Ireland is organising a one-day conference in Cork in April, to explore the solutions and concerns which uniquely affect control and automation systems used across Ireland today. The conference will also cover automation systems within the manufacturing, transportation and other critical utilities.

ISA Ireland has assembled some of the world leading speakers on this topic including those from some leading Control and Automation suppliers.

SIEMENS – ROCKWELL – EMERSON – YOKOGAWA – ABB

They all agree that the growing threat from cyber-attacks on the control systems running your manufacturing plants and critical infrastructure is not going to go away, and the threats are continually evolving. Such systems that cannot be shut down when under a cyber-attack need extra levels of protection.

This ISA Ireland conference will be held at the Rochestown Park Hotel, in Cork, on 13th April. It is focused on preventing or mitigating the damage that a cyber-attack will have on your control and automation systems. We will highlight the nature of the threat, how your systems and infrastructure can be better protected, and methods used to minimise attacks on your business. The presentations will give you an understanding of how the control system manufacturers are designing protections into the existing and future control system to reduce these threats, and explain practical steps that can be used to design-in safety measures.

Emerson biopharma investment at NIBRT Dublin

Emerson Automation Solutions is providing automation software and Delta distributed control systems valued at USD 1 million to Ireland’s National Institute of Bioprocessing Research and Training (NIBRT) to help train next-generation workers on the latest technologies designed to optimise pharmaceutical production.

Mike Train, executive president of Emerson Automation Solutions, explained “NIBRT is leading the way in helping Ireland, its universities, and Europe meet the demand for the skilled biopharmaceutical manufacturing workforce the industry needs.” This collaboration with NIBRT follows a 2016 NIBRT study of the biopharma manufacturing industry in Ireland that found more than half of respondents have a high degree of difficulty recruiting and developing bioprocess engineers.

The planned Emerson Room at the NIBRT facility will simulate an innovative bioprocessing environment and feature a fully operational DeltaV system to provide real-life training in a safe environment.  Martin Shanahan, CEO of the IDA Ireland, said: “The biopharmaceutical industry is extremely important to Ireland, and is worth over €uro40 billion in annual exports. It is essential that we continue to provide the appropriately skilled workforce capable of operating these state-of-the-art processing plants for many years to come. Emerson’s significant investment will help us support this continuously evolving industry.”

NIBRT and Emerson Picture Conor McCabe Photography

Dominic Carolan of NIBRT; Mike Train of Emerson Automation Solutions; and Martin Shanahan,  of IDA Ireland, at the NIBRT facility in Dublin

SAW technology for Bürkert flowmeter

This review of Surface Acoustic Wave (SAW) techniques was first published in my regular column in the December issue of the journal “South African Instrumentation and Control” (SAIC), published by TechNews.co.za

The SAW (surface acoustic wave) technique offers fascinating opportunities for many different styles of monitoring sensor. The first example seen many years ago really impressed me: it was called TorqSense, a torque measurement sensor applied onto a drive shaft, with no external electrical connections to the shaft needed. This used a SAW device mounted on a quartz substrate: the input and output sensors for the acoustic waves are separated by the length of this substrate, which changes as the quartz is deformed by the torque. Feedback creates a high-Q resonant circuit, and the resonant frequency changes as the quartz is distorted. RF excitation and monitoring of this resonance from an external unit gives a measure of the torque: this has been offered commercially by the UK based Sensor Technology for over 10 years.

Since then SAW techniques and sensors have been studied and researched by many universities, and sensors have resulted that measure temperature, pressure, viscosity, humidity, and even chemical concentrations. The idea is to choose a substrate or acoustic delay-line material between the acoustic transducers that is influenced by the environment to be monitored, such that it is stretched, or the acoustic path length changes in some other way. A recent market status report, by Mordor Intelligence, suggests that the total market for all such SAW sensor systems will be almost $4Bn by 2018.

The clever part in creating a sensor is to modify the acoustic properties of the piezoelectric material between two sensors in some way. Chemical and biochemical sensors for monitoring liquids have been created using a lithium tantalate piezoelectric with a micron thick coating of PMMA or cyanoethyl cellulose, which is sensitive to the chemical target, and keeps the surface waves near the surface, which are therefore influenced by the liquid properties.

Industrial flow applications

After collaborating with such university research for some years, in 2014 Bürkert saw the opportunity to develop a liquid flowmeter using SAW transducers, which could give major advantages particularly in hygienic applications – one of its key market areas. In this case, the SAW transducers were to be used to launch the ultrasonic pulse into the pipe wall of the flowmeter, which then leads to transmission of the signal diagonally across the fluid flow. The pipe wall and the moving liquid create the variable length acoustic delay line between opposing pulsed sensors, and fluid movement creates the change in this delay.

Burkert261_FLOWave_SAW_flow_sensor_pic1_PR2548_58253Effectively, Bürkert was using the SAW transducers as the upstream and downstream sensors for a time of flight type ultrasonic flowmeter. But also there is no intrusion into the flow tube, so the meter is suitable for ultra-pure applications like pharmaceuticals, water for injection and so forth, as well as food and beverage applications.

Development and field testing has covered the last two years, with a careful product release for suitable applications – typically initially used on low conductivity clean liquids, such as water for injection (WFI) in the pharmaceutical sector. Indeed one field test unit was installed in the supply line of a production filling system for infusion bags. Now, the Bürkert FLOWave range of flowmeters, covering DN15 to DN50 pipe sizes, is fully available for sale. This range of sizes covers the smaller bores typical of industrial requirements, in contrast to the larger ultrasonic flowmeters available from other suppliers. FLOWave is designed for hygienic use, and certified to EHEDG and 3A standards. The pipe has hygienic style end connections, and is internally finished to 0,8 or 0,4 microns: it is fully CIP and SIP tolerant, and indeed has been used to control CIP cycles, as the unit also provides a temperature measurement of the flowing liquid. It uses four SAW transducers, two on each side of the sensor pipe section, therefore acting as a dual path flowmeter. Flow measurement performance over the range 1-10 m/sec flow velocity is 0,4% of reading.

9639_1490711459657_PF

The latest development work has introduced density measurement and an acoustic transmission monitor parameter, which allow indications of the viscosity, bubble and suspended solids content of the liquid. This is useful in CIP process control, and also for monitoring milk in the dairy, during filtration. Bürkert claim an advantage over other styles of flowmeter, in that the unit is small and light in weight when used on a skid. Other applications now being investigated are for wort concentration monitoring in breweries, and homogenisation control in paint manufacture. Highly viscous liquids, such as glue, are also being monitored, where the full bore obstruction-free design is important.

Diabetes plant for Novo Nordisk chooses Emerson

Another Novo Nordisk greenfield pharmaceutical project has chosen Emerson Automation Solutions to achieve a fast project start-up: this Emerson release gives the following information.

Emerson advises: “Global healthcare company Novo Nordisk has awarded Emerson a $40 million automation systems and services contract for a new US-based drug manufacturing facility to help battle the global diabetes epidemic. The largest project in its history, Novo Nordisk’s new $2 billion plant in Clayton, North Carolina, will leverage Emerson Project Certainty methodologies and automation technologies to help ensure the plant achieves a tight project construction schedule to meet a construction target of 2020.

The new 825,000-square-foot production facility will help the Danish drug company increase manufacturing capacity and meet its goal of doubling production of diabetes drugs over the next decade. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 29 million Americans are living with diabetes, with another 86 million living with prediabetes.

“Our extensive experience in the life sciences industry and integrated offering for capital projects and automation perfectly positions us to help Novo Nordisk deliver its largest project in history,” said Mike Train, executive president, Emerson Automation Solutions. “Together we can design and deliver this world-class manufacturing facility to be ready on time, and to quickly deliver these important diabetes medicines.”

Novo Nordisk will implement elements of the Emerson Project Certainty approach to help reduce project complexity and achieve the tight project schedule. This transformational approach leverages automation technology, which serves as a central nervous system in a plant, and new methodologies, to reduce costs and complexity and accommodate late-stage project changes.

Novo Nordisk selected Emerson’s integrated portfolio of automation technologies and services, including its DeltaV distributed control system (DCS) and Syncade manufacturing execution system (MES). Emerson will also provide smart automation technologies including valves and measurement instrumentation.”

The value of Specialist Automation Suppliers

Engineers around the world are looking at how to benefit from the various solutions to the IIOT on offer: the article posted on 2 February entitled “How DCS Vendors see their IIOT future” covered the approaches being adopted by some of the major DCS vendors. This follow-up article, written for and first published in South Africa, in the Technews South African Instrumentation & Control Journal, March 2017, covers the approach of some of the smaller, specialist suppliers to their own selected sectors of the process industries.

While the major DCS suppliers try to work out how to provide revenue earning services from the growth of the IIOT, there are many specialist engineering product and systems suppliers who are investing in making their products easier for engineers to use in networks, and operate within the IIOT.

Most of these specialists are primarily focussed on the production of their valves, sensors, controllers or drives: this is their business – and they need their products to work with any interface the customer requires. Their expertise in interfacing their own products is the best available, they have an in-house systems knowledge base and capability. Most now offer this capability to their would-be product users as a service – offering a custom designed system incorporating the products. So look to these suppliers to offer the best engineering at an economic price, within their specialist field.

Typically these single-minded companies were set up by a design engineer with a good original product idea, and this has been developed and refined over the years. Often the company is family owned – and engineering / R&D investment takes precedence over profit distribution. Some such companies still exist in the USA, and a few in the UK, like JCB and Rolls Royce. Several specialist engineering product examples are found in suppliers originating from Germany, Scandinavia and middle Europe, where the culture seems to have encouraged their survival.

Beckhoff Automation

Arnold Beckhoff started his company in 1953: Beckhoff Automation now has a turnover of Euro 620 million, and employs 3350 people. The company implements open automation systems based on PC control technology, scalable from high performance Industrial PCs to mini PLCs, I/O and fieldbus components, plus drive technology and automation software. Supplying systems to many industries, Beckhoff works with and supplies components for over 15 major fieldbus systems. Motion control solutions solve single and multiple axis positioning tasks, and their servomotors offer combined power and feedback over a standard motor cable.

The Beckhoff TwinCAT 3 engineering and control automation software integrates real-time control with PLC, NC and CNC functions in a single package, and then all Beckhoff controllers are programmed using TwinCAT in accordance with IEC 61131-3. While the built-in TwinCAT condition monitoring libraries allow the on-site controllers to monitor the status of the sensors, to reduce downtime and maintenance costs, it also allows wider comparisons with connections to such cloud services as Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services. Other data connections are available, for example a smartphone app enables immediate local and mobile display of a machine‘s alarm and status messages.

Bürkert Fluid Control Systems

Bürkert was founded in 1946 by Christian Bürkert: it now has sales of Euro 412 million and employs over 2500 people. The product base is gas and liquid control valves, systems for measuring and controlling gases and liquids, plus sensors for monitoring such fluids, extending to complete automation solutions and fluid systems – this capability is known as their ‘Systemhaus’. While their products are now applied across many industries, their particular specialisations have been in sanitary, sterile and hygienic applications (food, beverage, biotech and pharmaceuticals), micro applications (medical, inkjet and beverage mixing/vending), and water treatment industries.

From the UK operation, Bürkert provide locally engineered solutions and systems for their pharma, food and brewery customers in particular. Locally made craft beers are a major growth area in the UK, and most start small, with no real automation. One example was Stroud Brewery, who needed to expand production by a factor of 5x, and preferably not increase their staff numbers: Bürkert designed a PLC system and intelligent control panel, which automated the temperature control of the cold and hot liquor tanks, and in the mash pan. In addition a system for controlling the run-off rate from the mash tun simply uses three separate Bürkert level sensors.

Bürkert also have developed their own ‘Device Cloud’, they call this ‘mySITE’. This collects data from Bürkert sensors around the world, using an on-site interface known as mxConnect – which can also accept data inputs from other sensors.

National Instruments

National Instruments was only started in 1976, in the USA, by Dr James Truchard and a colleague, who are still involved in the business. Now sales are $1320 million, and they have 7400 employees worldwide. Their declared Mission is to “equip scientists and engineers with systems that accelerate productivity, innovation, and discovery” – and their focus has always been to supply research establishments and engineers with open, software-centric platforms with modular, expandable hardware. This gives its own logistics problems, with 35,000 customers served annually.

It is difficult for me, as an outside observer, to relate the NI systems to an oil refinery or chemical plant application: but it comes into its own when the data handling grows in complexity – for example in pharmaceutical and biotech applications, and the sort of plants where engineers have a major input in monitoring the application. Mention cyclotron or Tokomak, CERN or the Large Hadron Collider, and NI and its LabView are embedded in their engineering control systems. All 108 collimators on the LHC are position controlled using LabView.

National Grid UK, which controls the distribution and transmission of electric power round the country, has adopted a control system based on the NI CompactRIO for the whole network. With many new power generating sources, HVDC connections, variable inputs from solar and wind farms, and the phasing out of major fossil fuelled plants, National Grid found that traditional measurement systems did not offer adequate coverage or response speed to handle these new challenges and risks. They adopted a platform, based on the CompactRIO, to provide more measurements – and also adapt with the evolving grid for generations to come. This interconnected network includes 136 systems, with 110 permanently installed in substations throughout England and Wales and 26 portable units that provide on-the-go spot coverage as needed.  The associated software systems provide their engineers with customized measurement solutions that can be upgraded in the future as new grid modernization challenges arise.

In terms of IoT developments, NI has just opened an Industrial IoT lab at the NI Austin HQ in the USA, to focus on intelligent systems that connect operational technology, information technology and the companies working on these systems. Many other companies are co-operating in this venture, like Cisco and SparkCognition, and the lab intends to foster such collaboration to improve overall interoperability. In addition NI has partnered with IBM and SparkCognition to collaborate on a condition monitoring and predictive maintenance testbed: this will use the SparkCognition cognitive analytics to proactively avoid unplanned equipment fatigue and failure of critical assets.

(c) Nick Denbow 2017

Radio system for simple temperature sensors

Signatrol, the Tewkesbury (UK) based manufacturer of the SpyDaq wireless temperature and humidity data logging system, has been awarded a UK patent for some of the communications aspects of SpYdaq, that make their system reliable, yet simple and cost efficient for pharma and food industry monitoring.

Initially designed to monitor and record temperature and humidity in buildings and storage areas, SpYdaq enables easy compliance with HACCP, EN12830, FDA CFR21 Part 11 and other relevant standards – where careful inviolate monitoring of storage conditions is required for quality reasons and to comply with legislation.

Unlike other similar systems on the market, SpYdaq features a unique high redundancy data package, specifically designed by Signatrol and it is this that has been recognized by the Patents Office and the award of UK Patent number 2479520.

SpYdaq monitors key parameters and transmits them, via a licence-free radio band, to a base station which then makes the data available via bespoke display and analysis software, using either an Intranet or the Internet. Using sensors linked by radio means that installation is quick and easy. The transmitters ‘sleep’ and then wake up at defined intervals to transmit the data. Using this method means that the transmitters are purely transmitters and not transceivers, thus reducing the cost and complexity of the system.

SpyDaq wireless from Signatrol

SpYdaq base station and sensors: this unit uses mobile phone links to the cloud for data monitoring and recording

A potential problem would arise with this approach when two or more transmitters try to transmit at the same time, and signals collide, resulting in loss of data. Signatrol has developed its unique communication system to ensure that in the event of a collision no data will be lost. In fact, for a fully populated system, the likelihood of losing a single reading is once in every 67 years.

Brian Turner, Managing Director Signatrol commented: “I am pleased that, although it has taken quite some time, our unique and innovative SpYdaq data logging system has finally been recognized with the grant of Patent. Many customers are already benefiting from this system and the patent will give added confidence to new adopters”

Indeed the Signatrol website quotes many well known names in the pharmaceutical and food industries as their customers: these are the major targets for Signatrol. Included are the NHS, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, GSK, and in foods Cadbury, Kellogg’s, Premier Foods and British Sugar.

The base stations can collect data from up to 16 transmitters, which can optionally also receive an external input signal, as well as monitor temperature and humidity. There is no info about the radio system employed, or the operating range, but various base stations offer local or intranet alarm set points, and there is also a unit that transmits data to the Signatrol cloud system for further recording and control actions. The base stations start at around GBP500, and the sensors at GBP130.

(c) ProcessingTalk.info

The new Process Atrato ultrasonic flowmeter

A new flowmeter for small bore liquid flows has been introduced Titan Enterprises, an enterprising British company, who are a long established manufacturer of liquid flowmeter systems. Their first ultrasonic meter was introduced in around 2010, after a long development programme in co-operation with Prof Mike Sanderson at Cranfield University, and was called the Atrato. This unit was launched for the typical markets served by Titan, of laboratory testing, drinks dispensing, cooling systems, pilot plants, fuel cells, pharmaceutical applications and OEMs – and offered a 200:1 turndown, 1% accurate obstructionless straight through meter with a 4-20mA output. Materials were mainly PEEK and borosilicate glass or stainless steel for the flow tube, but the BSP or NPT male fittings were available in stainless steel. A very clever and high performance flowmeter for flows up to 20 Litres/min.

The Launch in 2010

Regrettably, while having worked with Titan for many years prior to 2010 on their PR and promotion, a high flying expensive agency was brought in to promote the Atrato, so it disappeared off my radar. I should not say much about whether it has been seen by anyone else since then, because I don’t have any info: but why are you reading this?

Now a new launch has been announced by Titan, of the Process Atrato flowmeter: a new version of the basic flowmeter, now ‘packaged for the process and control environment’.

The Titan Atrato for the Process Industry

atrat

This unit is built from 316 stainless steel and PEEK, plus an elastomer seal to suit the application, and has the on-board electronics sealed to IP65. From the photo you can see that the threads into the stainless steel process connection (at the top of the flowmeter) are female. The lower screw thread is for an M12 four pin electrical connector. The unit is suitable for 65 Celcius and 25 bar process conditions: the non-process Atrato can operate up to 110C if the electronics is installed remotely, so presumably this might be a future development. Flow range covered is 2mL/min to 15 Litres/min, using four flowtube sizes.

Each of the four models covering the different flow ranges is configured to offer the same pre-set ‘K-factor’, which is quoted to assist OEM use and interchangeability: but it also highlights that the electronic output available on these “process units” is a PNP and an alternative NPN pulse train, quoted as a ‘frequency’ output. Presumably this relates back to the pulse output style as was provided by the other Titan turbine and positive displacement flowmeter sensors. A separate power supply, from 8-24VDC, is used to power the unit.

A few criticisms

The other surprise for me was that the meter is pictured, and obviously intended for installation, ‘upside down’, with the electrical connections and housing below the flow line. When this Process Atrato is really an equivalent to a thermal mass style gas flowmeter application, but on liquids, you would think it would be sensible to have it looking similar to these other, well-known gas flow devices. The reason for this cannot be that it needs to allow entrained air to escape, as the flow tube is just a straight tube, with no complicated connections which might trap anything.

For the engineers who can see through these confusion factors, the device is a very effective flowmeter, 200:1 turndown, +/-1% accuracy over 2-100% of range, while working with viscous as well as non-viscous fluids – with the standard Atrato features of linearity, no moving parts and fast response time. Plus the PR says it will offer a ‘reduced cost of ownership’, but does not specify what this is compared with…..surely the point is that there is not much else on offer to provide this performance, except maybe a micro-Coriolis meter.

If Only….

The pity is, ever since launching the Bestobell Doppler flowmeter in 1976, and the Platon Kat in 1998, I’ve been looking forward to being involved in the launch a decent ultrasonic flowmeter for clean liquid process applications…..