Dispensing systems may be as simple as a user interface to a connected scale.
More often, however, they interface or are integrated with higher level systems such as a Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) or Manufacturing Execution System (MES).
Integration provides contextual information, including:
- Control of what scale is used (e.g., test status, max. load, scale resolution)
- Support for more sophisticated weighing methods (e.g., pallet weighing)
- Compensator calculations based on active ingredients
- Real-time validation of weighing results (e.g., against planned quantity, tolerances)
- Recording of final weights within the context of the higher level system
Integrated with EBR, Dispensing Systems Provide Even More
Electronic Batch Recording (EBR) is essential in pharmaceutical industries. Its enhanced information capabilities simplify and speed review times to ease compliance.
Typically, when MES suppliers integrate dispensing features into EBR, what they really do is implement a specific dispensing ‘component’. This component is used to complete process steps that involve dispensing material using a scale, mainly built for central dispensing.
Rather than integrate a component into EBR, however, isn’t it better to run an EBR that also is a dispensing system, because it has the native ability to dispense? Because the dispensing system is an EBR system, pharmaceutical manufacturers can leverage key advantages provided by EBR.
- Proactive planning
I have seen many MES programs that focus on dispensing only, without considering that they’ll likely implement a comprehensive EBR in the near term. By integrating dispensing with EBR now, a full EBR implementation later will be seamless.
- Clear recipe design
Dispensing processes can be extremely complex, often as complex as EBR itself. This is especially true with regard to inline weighing and weighing of produced material. It’s critical to model all EBR processes in the same manner and to have a clear and easy-to-understand way to describe the intended behavior of a recipe.
- Standard yet flexible modelling approach
While there are best practices regarding how to dispense material on the shop floor, processes still vary. These variances demand a high level of flexibility during design of a dispensing process. Dispensing with EBR fully supports reuse of standard process designs, yet still provides the required flexibility to accommodate variances easily.
- Optimized user interfaces (UIs) and usability
State-of-the-art EBR systems provide operators on the shop floor with clean UI designs and clear, step-by-step guidance that help them to remain focused. When the dispensing system is also an EBR itself, this optimized user experience is consistent across the entire shop floor. Moreover, for high-throughput dispensing, scanner-driven operation of EBR provides a next level of optimization to speed execution even further.
- Facilitates ‘review by exception’
Because dispensing systems that are also EBR systems promote consistency, they reinforce ‘review by exception’ methodology by their very nature.
As you can see, running a dispensing system that also is an EBR system optimizes activity in several important ways.