How plug-and-play will help you glide through the biomanufacturing dance

​​It is pretty clear that automation can improve efficiency, track performance and liberate operators from mundane routines. But with it comes cost and time factors around customization, communication and validation. So, the challenge is not just how to automate, but how to do it well.

Using a ‘plug-and-play’ approach can greatly enhance the benefits of automation. By standardizing the communication framework, it can substantially cut the time and effort needed to implement equipment in a flexible, single-use technology environment.

It is pretty clear that automation can improve efficiency, track performance and liberate operators from mundane routines. But with it comes cost and time factors around customization, communication and validation. So, the challenge is not just how to automate, but how to do it well.

Using a ‘plug-and-play’ approach can greatly enhance the benefits of automation. By standardizing the communication framework, it can substantially cut the time and effort needed to implement equipment in a flexible, single-use technology environment.

 

The BioPhorum Plug-and-play technical sub-team completing interface tests using the MTP approach

Cost savings
Using a plug-and-play architecture can lead to significant cost savings, as illustrated in the table:

Activity/function Estimated person-hours saved Estimated schedule reduction Estimated cost savings
Interface integration design, development, implementation and testing 300+ hours 2–3 months $60–80k
Tools to help detect, diagnose or help facilitate communications 20–60 hours 2–6 weeks $5–25k
Troubleshooting communications 30–80 hours 3 weeks $15K
Workarounds and diagnostic tools 20–40 hours 2 weeks $8k
Licence cost of third-party solutions 16–20 hours* 1 week* $2–8k

* Time estimation for a validated environment under change management control
 
Looking ahead, interface specifications for several unit operations in a drug substance manufacturing facility should be completed by mid-2020, as will a fully functional prototype of a single-use bioreactor interface system. There are also plans for a virtual private network so that members can connect their technology without traveling.
A more detailed review of some of the value of the work of the plug-and-play team has been published by BioProcess International in an article called The Value of Plug-and-Play Automation in Single-Use Technology.

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