How Does Continuous Processing Align to Industry 4.0?
August 14, 2019
In my previous blog, where to next with continuous processing, I proposed that process integration and intensification were key drivers for continuous bioprocessing and there is alignment to Industry 4.0 and artificial intelligence (AI). I would like to expand some more on that today.
We hear the term ‘Industry 4.0’1 often these days and this seems to have morphed into bioprocessing 4.0 in the biopharmaceutical sector. The term Industry 4.0 originated several years ago, from a project in the high-tech strategy of the German government, which promoted the computerization of manufacturing with Industry 4.0 being driven by:
- Digitization and integration of vertical and horizontal value chains
- Digitization of product and service offerings
- Digital business models and customer access
The trend is towards automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies which includes the Internet of Things (IoT) and ‘Digital Twins’. With this backdrop, I see several areas of alignment with continuous processing including:
- Automation, control and data management are key aspects of future new continuous bioprocesses
- In-line or at-line analytics support the drive to improve product quality and patient safety as well as overall facility throughput
- Use of virtual reality (VR) to design facility layout and optimize equipment usability
- Create digital twins to evaluate various continuous production scenarios and create risk mitigation strategies
So, what do we mean by a digital twin? Originally developed to improve manufacturing processes, digital twins are being redefined as digital replications of living as well as nonliving entities that enable data to be seamlessly transmitted between the physical and virtual worlds. Digital twins facilitate the means to monitor, understand, and optimize the functions of all physical entities and for humans provide continuous feedback to improve quality of life and well-being2. So, a digital twin may be described as follows3:
- A digital replica of a living or non-living physical entity
- By bridging the physical and the virtual world, data is transmitted seamlessly allowing the virtual entity to exist simultaneously with the physical entity
- Digital twin refers to a digital replica of physical assets (physical twin), processes, people, places, systems and devices that can be used for various purposes
By applying the Solution Builder platform from Hakobio4, we can create digital twins of a continuous bioprocessing facility and through virtual reality (VR) can enter the facility to taker a tour. We can rapidly design a continuous bioprocessing facility and optimize layout and footprint utilization, equipment usability and the operating environment. An example of a continuous manufacturing facility is:
If we effectively enter the continuous facility then we can appreciate the scaled layout of the operation:
This approach can be taken a stage further and virtual reality enables an individual to effectively enter the facility using a specialized motion-sensitive video screen covering your eyes. The user can then move throughout the facility and around all the equipment as if he/she were in the actual production environment.
With virtual reality, the impact of adding or moving equipment within the facility can be assessed to optimize facility layout within any footprint constraints while enabling the most effective operator usability.
Looking ahead with the adoption of such digital approaches it should be possible to create digital twins to evaluate various continuous production scenarios and create risk mitigation strategies such as:
- Surge bag strategies
- Consumable replacement
- Safeguarding critical process steps
With this move towards digitalization of continuous processing what is the added value to be gained? This is a question I am frequently asked and the answer is I don’t know! In fact, nobody does as we are looking to the future rather than reporting history! However, I did read an interesting white paper by PTC5, entitled “Quantifying the Value of Digital Transformation in Manufacturing”. that addresses this issue and may give you some insights into where the potential savings are and the value that adopting these new practices may bring.
More to follow next time.
- Digital twins: The convergence of multimedia technologies, Saddick, A. El (2018) IEEE Multimedia 25 87-92
- Quantifying the Value of Digital Transformation in Manufacturing, White Paper, PTC Inc, 2019
Peter Levison – Executive Director Business Development
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