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Comments on the Pharmaceutical Automation Roundtable (Part 3)

Part 1: Level of Automation and Automation Value

Part 2: Investment value and pharmaceutical automation demands

Focus on Improvements

Pharmaceutical Automation Roundtable*:
”56% of management has the opinion that automation’s contribution to meeting operational goals is on par with other functions, 15% said more than other functions, and 29% said less than other functions. What should the automation discipline focus on in the next 5-10 years?:

  • 18.4 % - Reducing automation costs
  • 17.1 % - Linkage to MES systems & fully integrated to IT
  • 11.8 % - Efficiency of operations/manufacturing
  • 10.5 % - Technical capability of automation professionals
  • 9.2 % - Simplify operator access to information
  • 9.2 % - Consistency & control
  • 4.0 % - Improving CSV (Computer System Validation) & reducing implementation time

With additional specific comments from survey participants:

  • In general there is a need to develop more cost effective automation solutions (project delivery & qualification) and life cycle management.
  • Manufacturing Execution/Electronic Batch Records integration into the manufacturing arena.
  • Enabling floor operators to visualize performance of their lines.
  • Focus on exploring innovative, advance process control such as using the real-time data from multiple sources to make smart decisions.

Broken out into a separate section 67% of Solids and Packaging thought levels of automation was too low. With areas to improve over the next 5-10 years being:

  • Simplify users and technical team interactions with systems and controls
  • Enabling floor operators to visualize performance of their lines.
  • Integration with other systems, etc. to support business goals.
  • Integration with other business systems such as SAP, Lab data acquisition systems, data warehouses, electronic batch records, etc.”

zenon: zenon’s ergonomic automation solutions are about bringing systems together to provide transparency across your facility, with a user-centric interface to the processes around them. This platform provides knowledge of the processes throughout the facility, at all management and operation levels, even direct at the machine level live KPI’s, such as OEE, can be presented for example. With high usability graphics, real-time data access, trending, reports, are all available through different interfaces such as workstation, server, tablet, machine HMI, SCADA terminal, web access. The operator is well informed, as is the manager, engineer, production management, senior management, etc. With transparent systems you can remove the requirement where operators need to continually walk up and down the machine – they can see all activity for a particular production line from each machine HMI terminal.


The zenon Product Family is configurable in nature with a significant library of functionality, providing a platform where entire solutions can be implemented in a configured environment, which reduces complexity, novelty, and risk, whilst increasing quality. Bespoke code can be accommodated, then encapsulated into this parameterization culture, whereby the code is validated once, then reused in a configurable fashion. Under the GAMP 5 guidelines, a software category 4 (configured product) significantly reduces risk and compliance requirements when compared to a programmed alternative. The zenon Product Family significantly reduces the validation and compliance efforts that need to be carried out. It also reduces the level of engineering required to design and support such a system.


We have a strong communication platform, which not only links into industrial networks, PLC’s and devices; but this continues up to the business and management layers to MES and ERP, with native interfaces to SAP, Microsoft Dynamics, and SQL; where bilateral transfer of information can take place in real-time. Our dynamic reporting server ‘zenon Analyzer’ brings information from the production environment and presents the information focused to the user’s need, i.e. with production batch reports, quality reports such as RBE, or engineering reports e.g. analyze alarm demographics. High visibility and transparency has positive influences on productivity and driving business goals. Giving real-time accurate data allows for closed loop control on business objectives, production initiatives, and engineering opportunities.


All of this increases the technical and communication capabilities of your facility, which can be integrated to your existing infrastructure without changing anything on a running system. Providing holistic knowledge and control of your processes which improve consistency to increase productivity.


Part 1: Level of Automation and Automation Value

Part 2: Investment value and pharmaceutical automation demands




*Quotes from – Management’s view of automation – Impressions of automation performance: [21.05.2013]