Business Mag's New Darling: Process Analyzers

You know that your obscure technical specialty has hit the big-time when Business Week features it. In the May 3, 2004 issue, Business Week seized on the Process Analytical Technology (PAT) Initiative as key to the Pharmaceutical Industry's drive toward upgraded manufacturing processes with real-time, in-process quality data ("Making Pills the Smart Way," p102). Pfizer cites increased process understanding as an important goal for its $10-million annual investment in PAT.

While no body actually discovered it, Business Week obviously had hidden a microphone a week earlier in the Holiday Inn Lakeview in Clarksville, Ind. The 49th annual ISA Analysis Division (AD) Spring Symposium thoroughly explored leading-edge process analyzer applications including direct on-stream measurements of crystalization efficiencies in a new Glaxo SmithKline pharmaceutical active ingredient process.


 "Pfizer cites increased process understanding as an important goal for its $10 million annual investment in PAT."


The next meeting of the PPAR (Pharmaceuticals Process Analyzer Roundtable) group will be hosted by Tina Larson at Genentech in San Francisco (Sept. 14-16). The PPAR-3 in Ann Arbor, Mich. (see Around The Loop, Nov. '03) drew almost two-dozen analyzer professionals from 10 pharmaceuticals manufacturers.

The first AD Symposium was held in Houston in 1956. Bob Saltzman see Around The Loop, Feb. '96) attended the first and most of the 48 subsequent meetings. Bob's long-time specialty is process spectroscopy, but early on (late 1950s) he attended the Chromatography Symposia (sponsored by ISA AD) at Michigan State University when this technology was in its infancy. On one occasion, he bumped A. J. P. Martin, the renowned chromatography pioneer, from a flight out of East Lansing, Mich..

The ISA AD Spring Symposium attracted 125 registrants as well as over 20 vendor hospitality suites. The Tuesday night banquet featured Dr. Norman Hunter, Professor Emeritus of Chemistry at Western Kentucky University, who offered an absorbing narrative, illustrated with his vast collection of slides, of historically important sites and apparatus in the development of the science of chemistry.

Outside the residents of the immediate area, "Thunder Over Louisville" is a totally unknown event. This festival, however, leading to the Kentucky Derby two weeks later, draws huge crowds along both sides of the Ohio River for an air show followed by a spectacular fireworks display after sunset. Walking is virtually the only available mode of transportation but the Symposium hotel was an easy walk from riverbank and, for early arrivers (Sunday workshop or just going for discounted airfares), the fireworks could be viewed from the hotel parking lot.

The 25+ papers presented covered physical properties measurements, environmental applications, sampling systems, analytical data communications, process spectroscopy, analyzer support services and more. The Gilman Thomason Fowler Award honors three early Analysis Division leaders and is presented to the best papers at the annual symposium. This year's top four papers were: "Insitu Analysis Of Nh3 Slip and Water Vapor Using a Tunable Diode Laser," Warren Dean - Siemens AAI, "Trace Analysis Of A Waste Co2 Stream For Custody Transfer Purposes," Tony Hart "Williams Energy & David Lewko "Bantrel Co., "Validation Of A Continuous Measurement System For Hf Emission Control," Hamish Adam œ Boreal Laser & J. Tulipœ University of Alberta, "The Measurement Of Hydrogen In A Changing Matrix," Stephen J. Koski œ UOP & Robert E. Preucil œ Cosa Instruments. The symposium proceedings are available on a CD. Contact Symposium Chair Jim Tatera ( or Division Director Bob Farmer.

As a final note, Dr. Walter W. Henslee is retiring after a 30-year career at Dow Chemical effective April 30. Walter has been a towering figure in Dow's deployment and use of process analytical technology. Groups under his direction have won three dozen Dow Technology Center Awards from eight Dow businesses with an aggregate rated value of over $350 million. He has chaired Dow task groups in a number of technical fields, including the global analyzer technology resource network, while also serving the National Research Council, National Science Foundation and other government and non-profit agencies.

Terrence K. McMahon, McMahon Technology Associates Fort Lee Road Leonia, NJ 07605 Tel: 201-585-2050 Fax: 201-585-1968

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