Process analytical technology (PAT) has opened an automation-system interoperability can of worms at Pfizer. Consulting for the big pharma, Dennis Brandl went to work automating the processes to collect and transmit the necessary multi-dimensional manufacturing data.
The Pfizer project was an implementation of PAT, the FDA-championed method of monitoring pharma processes by measuring critical parameters. Brandl's finding, as reported in a contributed editorial in Automation World, is that control system integration by interoperability fixes would cost 10 times that of the automation components themselves.
The interoperability cost factor is a big impediment to PAT adoption industry-wide, says Brandl, much as the technology promises greater process efficiency and a higher comfort level among regulators.
Brandl doesn't say how the Pfizer project turned out. But he does evangelize about OPC--open connectivity, via open standards, in industrial automation. OPC is the brainchild of the 400-member OPC Foundation, and it appears to be capitalizing on the open system architecture momentum in the life sciences and other industries.