"Digital automation for powerful, cost-effective production solutions"

1st April 2013

When an Italian manufacturer of anti cancer compounds chose to update its automation systems, it turned to a supplier with a long track record of meeting FDA regulations. The result is a powerful, cost-effective solution.

Indena is the world's leading company dedicated to identifying, developing and producing active ingredients from plants for use in the pharmaceutical and health industries. It is one of the main suppliers of a potential new anti-cancer compound that has been approved by the FDA for phase 1 clinical trials.

It has just announced the successful completion of an automation project with Emerson Process Management, a leader in engineering and implementing pharmaceutical automation solutions including conformance to FDA code of practice, 21CFR Part 11.

Emerson has implemented the automation solution for Indena based on PlantWeb digital plant architecture including a DeltaV digital automation system, using FOUNDATION fieldbus technology. The Settala facility extracts the anti-cancer compound from the leaves of a plant, then supplies the extracted product to a major pharmaceutical company for processing into the finished drug.

Indena chose Emerson as a partner for several reasons: it wished to work with a large company that was able to guarantee continuous support, as well as a company that was offering a technically advanced solution based on open protocols.

Emerson was asked to supply a flexible, open system based on fieldbus technology that could be used to control the process as well as managing the instrumentation assets.

Ing Piotti of Indena believes that it is essential for modern systems to do both: "It is clear that for companies to be competitive in the future they will have to adopt a total plant vision and architecture that supports both the process control aspect and instrumentation maintenance.“

Further requirements imposed by Indena were that the supplied automation system should have an easy and effective programming interface as well as having software tools that are easy to learn. It was specified that the digital information from the field instruments should be able to be used to optimise the process as well as for predictive maintenance.

"At the moment, the PlantWeb architecture from Emerson is the best solution for complete automation,“ Piotti said. "Moreover, Emerson is able to give not only high quality automation solutions, but also loyalty ­ a new trust relationship between client and supplier“.

High-precision batches

Manufacturing at the Settala facility is based on a high precision batch operation. In order to control and manage this process, Emerson worked with Indena staff to install and configure the DeltaV digital automation system.

The DeltaV system and DeltaVBatch software are built for batch control solutions. They provide powerful functionality, and easy, cost-effective engineering and operations interface. AMS predictive maintenance software within DeltaV provides functionality that enables easy reproduction of device calibration certificates for past calibrations, documentation of test scheme changes, and AMS system administrator events.

Indena has calculated that during the installation phase of the project alone the company saved 50 per cent of the cost when compared to a more traditional approach to plant architecture. These savings were as a result of reduced wiring and installation costs as well as a reduction in time spent commissioning by utilising the digital communication capabilities of the field instruments.

In addition to initial savings, Indena expects to see savings across the whole lifecycle of its plant. The PlantWeb architecture is modular and scalable and can be expanded at low cost should future requirements demand. Savings can be made in engineering and programming time through the use of easy graphic tools, such as block program language (IEC 1131). The PlantWeb architecture is based around open protocols so that should it wish to, Indena can use instrumentation from various suppliers.

The use of AMS software can help to reduce the need for programmed maintenance. AMS monitors device status and alerts and can present the information on the DeltaV workstation, enabling a predictive approach to maintenance to be adopted. AMS can also be used to configure the field instruments as well as managing their calibration; it stores historical data allowing graphical trends to be produced that help to identify potential problem devices. The streamlined maintenance activities that are possible as a result of utilising the capabilities of AMS can help to reduce unnecessary costs as well as minimising unplanned failures. The result is increased profitability and an improved plant lifecycle.

The equipment that has been installed consists of four DeltaV controllers, with redundancy, handling 1400 I/O. They are supervised by one engineering workstation and four field operator stations. Plant expansions or upgrades are simplified by the DeltaV plug and play approach that not only means reduced installation time for new plants, but also minimised shutdowns for upgrades. Indena staff were provided with operation training in a very short time. In the future, Emerson will provide technical support by remote connection should the extensive on-line help facility not provide the answer to any problem.

More information is available from Emerson Process Management, tel 00 44 (0)800 55 6000, fax 00 44 (0) 800 085 0953, email,




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