Pharmaceutical Automation Roundtable (PAR) - 5 Part Article Series

Pharmaceutical Automation Roundtable (PAR) - 5 Part Article Series

 
By Bill Lydon - Editor, January 2011
 
This 5 part article series is based on the recent Pharmaceutical Automation Roundtable (PAR). Automation professionals from leading life sciences companies gathered together to discuss MES, visualization, software development, system life-cycle planning, executive governance, electronic testing, wireless and more. The individual PAR group members have a wealth of practical knowledge and knowhow to share with other participants, truly learning from each other.
 
I had the privilege of attending the Pharmaceutical Automation Roundtable as an observer this last November at Pfizer's Andover, Massachusetts biotech facility. The PAR was co-hosted by Jim LaBonty and James Galloway, both from Pfizer’s central engineering group. Over 30 automation lead engineers from various parts of the world attended the invitation-only, two-day event. In my opinion, this was likely the most knowledgeable group of automation professionals gathered in one place at any one time focused on discussing automation issues. Life Science companies represented in the PAR include Abbott, Alcon Labs, Allerga, Amgen, Bayer, Biogen Idec, BMS, Boehringer Ingelheim, Centocor, Cook Pharmica, Dow, Genentech, GenMab, Genzyme, GSK, Imclone, J&J, Eli Lilly, Lonza, Merck, NNE Pharmaplan, Novartis, Novo Nordisk, Pfizer, Roche, Sanofi-Aventis, Schering Plough, Talecris, and UniLife.
 
The PAR was founded about 15 years ago by Dave Adler and John Krenzke, both with Eli Lilly and Company at the time, as a means of benchmarking and sharing best practices for automation groups among peer pharmaceutical companies. The group specifically does not discuss confidential or proprietary information, cost or price of products, price or other terms of supply contracts, plans to do business or not do business with specific suppliers, contractors, or other companies.   
 
This year’s PAR topics covered the following items:
 
  • Manufacturing Execution System Projects - Benchmarking
  • Control System Virtualization Approaches
  • Governance Organizational Structures
  • Software Development Environment & Configuration Management
  • Control System – Automation Lifecycle Management and Long Range Planning
  • Electronic Testing Tools & Validation
  • Wireless Networks
  • Disposable Technology and Automation Implications
  • Control Loop Operating Modes – Operator use of Auto & Manual modes relative to Safety
In opening remarks during keynote address, a key point made by George Skillin of Pfizer was that in these days of shrinking investment when capital spending is down, the goal is to do more with less and take full advantage of what is already in place. By using the systems and platforms in place, learning more about processes, and using data to solve problems, automation engineers are really good at process optimization. By working hand in hand with production, manufacturing, and process engineering groups, the automation people can optimize processes and squeeze out costs to lower the overall cost of medicine for all. 
 
The structure of PAR is to discuss a topic and then attendees respond to 3 - 5 questions.  Use the links below to review the article series: