Food and Pharmaceutical Industries Division (FPID) Symposium report

  • March 21, 2016
  • ISA
  • News

March 21, 2016 - Nearly 240 professionals within the automation and control field and the pharmaceutical and food industries gathered last week in Cork, Ireland to explore solutions to automation challenges in food processing and drug manufacture and distribution.

The 2016 ISA Food and Pharmaceutical Industries Division (FPID) Symposium, held 14-15 March, outlined best-practice approaches in automation to leaders of pharmaceutical and food processing companies seeking to improve quality, safety, reliability, profitability, cost control and production throughput. The turnout nearly doubled the attendance of last year’s event, which was held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA.

This year’s technical program featured 40 technical presentations and the perspectives of 33 subject matter experts. Particular attention was given to how automation can help solve key, front-and-center challenges—such as meeting regulatory requirements, reducing manufacturing costs, and countering security threats—and the role of automation technology and innovation in addressing longer-term global dynamics and demands.

“This was truly an internationally focused event because it tackled the significant issues and trends in automation affecting the food and pharmaceutical industries on a global scale,” emphasized Andre Michel, President of Efficient Plant, Inc., and the Director of ISA’s Food and Pharmaceutical Division. “The technical presentations and content honed in on the vital concerns of attendees and how they can be overcome.” Michel added that ISA’s Ireland Section played a key role in promoting the event locally and attracting a large base of attendees. 

Billy Walsh, chair of ISA’s Assembly of Operational Department Vice Presidents and a member of the Society’s Executive Board, said the event brought together a wide range of global experts—across end user and vendor communities and from industry research and development—that were eager to "exchange leading-edge viewpoints and ideas.” 

Conference sessions covered a wide range of essential topics, including:

  • Serialization
  • Track and Trace
  • Data integrity
  • Digitization
  • Cybersecurity
  • Automation/biotech
  • Process optimization
  • Automation to Survive – Industry 4.0
  • Equipment effectiveness
  • Alarm management

Other highlights of the event included:

Featured presentations by two visionary experts in automation and control: Paul McKenzie, Ph.D., Senior Vice President of Global Biologics Manufacturing & Technical Services at Biogen; and Peter Martin, Ph.D., Vice President and Fellow at Schneider Electric Company. Dr. McKenzie’s presentation, titled “Driving Change through Innovation and Standards,” discussed the importance of process and product innovation geared to customer value and standards-based thinking on product lifecycle management and partnership models. Dr. Martin’s presentation, titled “Innovation and a Future Perspective on Automation and Control,” investigated: the different levels of innovation; why industrial automation and control may be at an inflection point leading to inspirational innovation; and the prospects of performance improvements for food and pharmaceutical companies.

A welcome address to attendees given by Cork County Mayor Councillor Claire Cullinane.

A vendor exhibit featuring the products and services of 28 leading companies. Eleven sponsors and eight media partners supported the symposium.

The on-site instruction of two high-value ISA courses:Introduction to the Management of Alarm Systems (IC39C) and Introduction to Industrial Automation Security and the ANSI/ISA-62443 Standards (IC32C)

The opportunity to gain professional development hours (PDHs).

ISA’s 2017 FPID Symposium is tentatively scheduled to take place in Boston, Massachusetts during March of next year. Symposium organizers are already recruiting volunteers, participants and speakers for the event. For more information on how you can get involved, contact Rodney Jones, Manager, ISA Sections and Divisions, at

“Given the great success of this year’s event, many of the attendees, speakers and exhibitors I met with are very much looking forward to the 2017 symposium in Boston,” said Declan Lordan, Marketing and Sales Director at Douglas Control & Automation and a long-time ISA volunteer leader in Ireland.

About the ISA Food and Pharmaceutical Industries Division (FPID) The Food and Pharmaceutical Industries Division (also known as FPID) is organized within the Industry and Sciences Department of the International Society of Automation (ISA). FPID expands awareness and understanding about the latest technologies in automation, sensors, instruments, other equipment, computer systems and software application for the Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) and Pharmaceutical Supply Chains (PSC).

The FPID retains a knowledge base of design, engineering, system, software, process automation, validation, quality, research, and scientific professionals. Division members: share and enhance their personal expertise in CPG product manufacturing and packaging, pharmaceutical R&D, clinical trials, and the manufacturing of tablet formulations, parenteral and biotech products; help  provide global leadership at the US Food and Drug Administration and other international regulatory bodies; and furnish valuable knowledge and input on controversial issues regarding instrumentation, analysis automation, equipment and system validation, and testing for regulatory compliance.

.About ISA

The International Society of Automation ( is a nonprofit professional association that sets the standard for those who apply engineering and technology to improve the management, safety, and cybersecurity of modern automation and control systems used across industry and critical infrastructure. Founded in 1945, ISA develops widely used global standards; certifies industry professionals; provides education and training; publishes books and technical articles; hosts conferences and exhibits; and provides networking and career development programs for its 40,000 members and 400,000 customers 

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