Along with managing basic material and formulation issues, pharmaceutical manufacturers must maintain precise temperature and humidity levels. These levels are required by their validation rules and documented and inspected by the United States and other national governments from countries that sell their products.
Environmental management systems (EMS) and building management systems (BMS) typically manage these temperature, humidity and associated parameters, but these stalwart systems can wear out over time.
Aging, Obsolete Systems
For instance, the GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) plant in Zebulon, North Carolina, was built in 1984 and makes 30 brands and 500 products in temperature- and humidity-controlled environments to ensure product integrity.
However, the 30-year-old plant had a 20-year-old EMS and an aging BMS, so GSK engineers sought an upgrade solution they also could bring online without affecting required production or regulatory compliance negatively.
“The old EMS was basically obsolete, and we couldn't even find people to work on it anymore,” said Jeffrey Leverton, automation engineering manager, GSK. “We were also risking big downtime to our production and potentially having to restart multiple power systems. Our infrastructure is critical to our manufacturing, but we also had multiple disparate systems, so we wanted to integrate them into one system.”
Leverton, Omar Bahader, senior application engineer at GSK, and Daniel Homan, engineering manager for industrial HVAC and central utility plants systems at Rockwell Automation, presented “Converting a Legacy BMS to a PlantPAx System” on the opening day of the Rockwell Automation Process Solutions User Group (PSUG) on November 16 before the opening of the 2015 Automation Fair® event.
In addition to upgrading its EMS and BMS without hindering production, GSK wanted to enhance its operational data, optimize production for leaner manufacturing, merge the formerly separate EMS and BMS sides, increase its energy savings, increase data visibility and access for operators and automate its restart process.