Driven in part by the demographics of an aging population, pharmaceutical companies continually strive to do more with less, says Saroj Patnaik, director, life sciences, for Emerson's global industry solutions group. The pressures for lower-cost drugs are diverse, he explains, and come from lower-income seniors and from the movement to reform healthcare in U.S. "We need to help life sciences companies increase the throughput of their facilities, moving more batches through the same equipment to drive costs down."
A key facilitator of throughput improvements will be the industry's adoption of process analytical technology (PAT), which, in essence, entails the application of process understanding, instrumentation and process modeling in order to produce batches of predictable and repeatable quality. Rather than the "old" way of producing pharmaceuticals, which prescribed doing everything exactly the same way every time—then testing the end product to see if it came out okay, PAT implies real-time, in-process measurements of product characteristics together with model-based interactions in order to end up with the desired product quality--batch in and batch out.
Emerson Process Management, in order to bring a fully featured PAT solution to its life sciences customers, entered an alliance with Optimal Industries to implement the company's synTQ software on a global basis. synTQ integrates with a broad range of analytical instruments and laboratory information management systems (LIMS), as well as with Emerson's DeltaV digital automation system. Importantly, synTQ allows life sciences companies to implement any of a variety of third-party process models—they're not constrained to use DeltaV's native model-based control algorithms. "You can pick your analyzers, and you can pick your control model," Patnaik says.
"Emerson now has a full PAT solution," Patnaik stressed, adding that the partnership has born its first fruit: a pending implementation at Eli Lilly in Indianapolis.