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Anthem Biosciences bets big on integrated DCS, IT & OT convergence

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You cannot just wish your organisations’ operations to get digitally transformed. An arsenal of levers are pulled tighter and wires fused together to get the right set up and setting up this right foundation is the cornerstone to digital affluence. But the ingredients, just right for that infinite possibility of scalability, flexibility and agility is what Bangalore based pharmaceutical company, Anthem Biosciences manoeuvres best, treading on industry 4.0.

The dose of IT and OT convergence

Anthem Biosciences has already converged IT and OT (process automation technologies) project about four years to achieve extreme synergy and efficiency. “It is a first-of-kind in the industry and at that time it was quite unique in the pharmaceutical space. After the IT and OT confluence, the next significant step was to make the manufacturing systems a part of the IT which is not so in most of the organisations today. Starting our digital journey in 2015, we went on converting or automating the entire process in the organisation. Today most of the CIOs in most of the organisations are looking up for the kind of solutions we have implemented,” said Ravi Kalla, Head, Information Technology, Automation and Instrumentation at Anthem Biosciences Private Limited.

Easy Check with Integrated DCS and secure datacenters

A major highlight of the company’s digital endeavour is the complete centralisation of the data centre. The information of the process equipment (upstream and downstream), clean and other utilities such as reactors,  dryers, hydrogenators, nutrient dosing, media preparation, Buffer vessels, fermenters, bio-reactors, TFF, chromatography systems, lyophilizers, process water, plant steam generation and distribution systems, solvent distribution system are automated and are connected to the datacentre.

“We have seen that in many organisations, the data is in silos or even if they are interconnected at some places they are not part of the IT. Since we are connected in IT, we can view all the parameters sitting in a centralised space, unlike in PLC or SCADA systems where there are separate systems and this enables us to be independent and not depend on the vendors,” informs Kalla.

The centralised aspect at Anthem Biosciences ensures enhanced visibility. “This leads to a less number of batch failures. While manufacturing, in certain processes, there are neuro-testing of the batches. In such a case, sometimes in a batch of 100, 99 are successful, while one may be a failure. The inconsistency in the batches may be due to the raw materials used, or improper storage conditions. There are over hundreds of parameters that need to be considered for drug manufacturing.  It was cumbersome to do that manually and was also not full proof. This in turn requires a deeper forensic analysis.  But with automation what exactly went wrong can be easily gauged in two to three clicks.” explains Kalla.

In the pharmaceutical industry, collating all the data in the data centre is a massive task. It takes around four-five years. At Anthem Biosciences, there are about 480 vessels and over 400 AHUs. All in all – the integration, cleansing and customisation of data – is a big bucket. However, with all the data centralised, implementing AI and ML is seamless for the organisation.

The right IoT treatment and the way forward

Anthem Biosciences does not have separate systems for multiple buildings, instead, it is a single building management system covering 10-15 buildings. For that, the company has used the IoT concept. Sensors transmit data wirelessly thus eradicating the cob of cables running from data centres to the buildings.

By November this year, the company is going more robust on supply chain, ensuring how the supply chain can be more digitally aligned. Also, it is on its way to implementing eBMR project in next two years. “The entire organisation is going to be on the digital platform by the year-end,” claims Kalla.

Cure for COVID

In this COVID situation, the top and the mid-management can monitor plant operations remotely on PC or mobile phones. Also, VDI has been used extensively for this purpose and the data is not at the employees’ local device, but on the central server these by mitigating risk of data security threat.

“In manufacturing, people are ideally required to come to the site. But we have significantly cut down on this requirement by using technology. Employees involved with QA and QC and compliances are not required to come to the site, they can do the review at their place and command for a printout at the office, as simple as that,” concludes Kalla.


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