• Enjoy a unique environment to meet and gain input from all stake holders on industry direction, challenges and solutions.
• Shape your strategy on the way solutions should be developed and applied in your facility
• Understand how partnering can take you further, faster and with reduced risk
• Experience hands on demonstrations of automation equipment and packages.
The invitation was interesting, and challenging. “Future.Now – Developing the Life Sciences Landscape Together” was an arresting title. It was a co-operative event between National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training (NIBRT) and Emerson. We were invited to “Boost your knowledge, gain from the experience of others and increase your professional network at NIBRT state of the art facility in Dublin!”
This correspondent was aware of the NIBRT facility but had very little idea of what it was real function or its relevance to Irish industry. This was an opportunity find out. Further looking through the programme two things became apparent. One was the calibre of personnel speaking from the Emerson organisation and then the application rather than product orientation of the various sessions.
It proved to be a very interesting two days.
Day 1: Working together towards a common future.
Presentations from NIBRT, Industrial Development Authority (IDA), GSK, Alexion, Zeton, Novo Nordisk and Emerson Automation Solutions.
After a short welcome fro Emerson Europe President, Roel Van Doren, the CEO of NIBRT, Dominic Carolan, outlined the foundation and raison d’etre of the organisation. It is a training and research in the area of bioprocessing. It is located in a new, world class facility in Dublin (IRL). As medical science advances “simple” chemistry, while still essential, is not fully capable of solving all health issues – Pharma versus Biopharma. Bioprocessing is a specific process that uses complete living cells or their components (e.g., bacteria, enzymes, chloroplasts) to obtain desired products.
Thus this facility exists to support the growth and development of all aspects of the biopharmaceutical industry in Ireland. It is purpose built to closely replicate a modern bioprocessing plant with state of the art equipment.
Making Ireland ready – a good news story.
Dr Chantelle Keirnan, Scientific Advisor with the Industrial Development Authority (IDA), described the far-seeing intuitive initiative to look at bioprocessing “before it was profitable or popular!” This state body is responsible for the attraction and development of foreign investment in Ireland and had been extraordinarily successful in attracting nine of the top ten pharma companies to set up manufacturing processing plants in Ireland. They considered at the turn of the century that bioprocessing was the way that life science was going and took steps to ensure that Ireland was ready. One of those steps was the provision of Government funding of NIBRT.
Many of the delegates – in excess of one hundred attended some from other countries – donned white coats and took the opportunity to tour the impressive facility during the event. It includes a purpose-built, multi-functional building which replicates the most modern industrial bioprocessing facility. Some idea of this facility may be gleaned from their website here.
This is a good news story. How often are decisions of state organisations regarded, not entirely without justification, with a jaundiced eye? Those that are good are “oft interréd with their bones!” The vision that saw this development in industry and the individuals who having caught the ball ran with it and brought it so successfully to fruition is worthy of equal attention and praise.
The rest of the day was an examination of the industry, processes and looking into the future. Mike Train, Executive President of Emerson spoke on the changes that are influencing industry and his company’s focus. We are facing “an evolution not a revolution” he stated, a point emphasised by other speakers throughout the day. He also stressed the importance for giving permission to change. (See full list of speakers at below.)
We then had a series of speakers from the industry, people who get their hands dirty so to speak in actual processing speaking of their experiences and challenges. Speakers from GSK and Novo Nordisk explored areas like partnership, legacy issues, building on or expanding existing plants, saving energy, wireless. There was some discussion on the cloud and its advantages and just how vulnerable it might be to security breaches.
The discussion on handling all this data and identifying and retrieving those pieces of data which are really useful to the process brought to mind the prophetic words of the American media theorist, Neil Postman years ago, “…a central thesis of computer technology – that the principal difficulty we have in solving problems stems from insufficient data – will go unexamined. Until, years from now, when it will be noticed that the massive collection and speed of light retrieval of data have been of great value to large scale organisations but have solved very little of importance to most people and have created at least as many problems for them as they have solved…” (Neil Postman: “Amusing ourselves to death:” 1985)
Peter Zornio, Chief Technology Officer with Emerson gave their philosophy in meeting the demands of “Life Science Visions.” He lauded the various discussion groups such as the Biopharma Operations Group in helping how to keep up to date with technology and fostering new ideas.
We are on a digitizing journey. Moving from manual and paper to digital recording and control.
Day 2: “New Technology, New Processes, New solutions!”
Presentations from BioPharmaChem, GSK, Infinity Automation and Emerson.
The day started with a presentation on modular flexible manufacturing – introducing the PK Controller and a little later in the day there was an exposition on DeltaV Discovery/DeltaV 14 in maintaining data and transferning and easing technology transfer through the life cycle of drug development.
In his second presentation Peter Zornio gave the business case behing IIoT. IoT is usually referring to domestic, building environment and other civil applications. But it is also useful in the industrial environment where it is referred to as IIoT. Initially it was a link up at the instrument and control area but of late it is spreading to the portfolio of sensors. Their emphasis is on “the first mile!” (This is a backward reference to the perennial problem in many, especially rural, areas of “the last mile” – the internet connection directly into the home! – a heart felt sigh from your correspondent!)
Ian Allen of Infinity Automation spoke on challenges to the life science automation world. “Don’t go backward to go forward” he said. We must use things like data integrity, cyber security, Microsoft dependencies and Industrie 4.0 as “gifts to leverage the opportunity and change!” The real challenge is not so much the technology but our use of it. We were coming back to “permission for change!”
We might perhaps use the words of the Bard of Avon, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars. But in ourselves….” The “gifts” are there. The Technology is there or on the way.
Let’s own these gifts and make them our own.