Pronova BioPharma Recognized with PlantWeb Excellence Award

Oct. 1, 2009
Emerson Presents 2009 PlantWeb Excellence Award

The 2009 PlantWeb Excellence Award has been presented to Pronova BioPharma and NNE Pharmaplan for its innovative application of the Emerson PlantWeb digital architecture in a recently completed, $300-million biopharmaceuticals facility in Denmark.

"This was a large plant, designed to produce 1,200 tons API—active pharmaceutical ingredient—per year of Omega 3 products for cardiovascular disease control," said Jørgen Beck, automation specialist with NNE Pharmaplan. "We are proud to say that we brought the project in six weeks early and on budget."

Beck, together with Michael Christensen, plant support manager with Pronova Biopharma, presented lessons learned during this fast-track project in their Wednesday presentation at this week's Emerson Global Users Exchange, "Fast and Reliable Implementation of Large DeltaV Solution."

According to Beck, "Pronova decided to build the plant in Denmark, not in their home country of Norway, so a new organization had to be built under Danish laws and codes, even though the plant had an aggressive timeline—19 months from decision to first product.

"We are proud to say that we brought the project in six weeks early and on budget." Disciplined project management allowed Pronova BioPharma and NNE Pharmaplan to get the company's new plant up and running in only 19 months. Emerson's Terry Krouth (right) presented the 2009 PlantWeb Excellence Award to Michael Christensen, Pronova Biopharma (left) and Jørgen Beck, NNE Pharmaplan (center). "Beck and Christensen insist that this was not the wildly risky project it appears to be on the surface. "We had continuity in design personnel across all the project phases," Beck said, "with a clear interface between the responsibilities of the team members and an interdisciplinary approach to design. Our team's key personnel had more than 10 years experience in process control system design, as a team too. And we were in constant contact with Pronova engineers and plant personnel."

The designers froze the design early in the project and used a highly structured ISA88 and GAMP5 approach using the unit-driver concept with generic phases. "As an example of the utility of generic phases," Beck said, "all 27 pipe CIP—clean-in-place—processes in the plant are using the same logic."

This had a strong impact on the DeltaV configuration. "DeltaV configuration should be configuration, not designing or guessing what the process engineer meant," Beck insisted.

Every design team leader had at least one international DeltaV expert dedicated to programming in his team. Prototyping was done concurrently with the design, and the control modules were developed based on the existing systems at Pronova in Norway.

And, in what would appear to be a step change increase in the project's risk factor, the production of the graphical displays was outsourced to NP China.

Not so, Beck explains. "We have outsourced two DeltaV projects to China. The company, NP China is a subsidiary of NNE Pharmaplan, so we had excellent controls. NP China worked through Citrix on our DeltaV Server in Denmark, and we have the IT infrastructure that makes it possible to use the same applications/databases."

The other key element was the pre-design of HMI rules, so that any screen looked like the same design as any other, regardless of who did the implementation.

NNE Pharmaplan and Pronova did rigorous testing on three different DeltaV systems and produced product on the new system in Denmark before handover. "The design and the software were never out of control," Beck and Christensen declared. "Errors that could only be found running live media were found earlier and corrected, which led to a much faster path to process validation."

"Close cooperation was critical in this project," Christensen said. "The time used in the early stage of the project on a well-structured design comes back many times on site, and the continuity of ‘design responsibles' participating in all project phases with an overall responsibility for the automation system in his area was also a critical success factor. Finally, test production before hand-over was important to ensure stability of the plant, and to assure us that we were getting what we wanted."

Six weeks early, produced on budget, and the plant produced actual product prior to handover. Fast, good and cheap. If you plan and execute properly, you can have all three.