Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Case Study: Implementing Edge Computing

Stratus support played a vital role in the journey.

Stratus support played a crucial role in the journey.

  • Stratus Edge Computing is a game-changing concept for the modernization of Chemi’s pharmaceutical plant.
  • Ensuring business continuity while upgrading the DCS system and IT infrastructure.
  • Ensuring data integrity and validation.
  • Adopting standard and high-performance technologies for all facilities.
  • Ensuring operational autonomy for operations.
  • Implementing a system suitable for future expansion.
  • Adoption of Rockwell Automation’s PlantPAx DCS.
  • Environment suitable for ThinManager.
  • ftServer 4910 with VMware virtualisation.
  • Standardised fault tolerant DCS infrastructure for all facilities.
  • Flexible utilization and optimal performance of the production lines.
  • Transition from old to new system in just three days.
  • Immediate usability of the new application.

Chemi, a subsidiary of the Italfarmaco Group, is a prominent pharmaceutical company with multiple facilities in Italy and worldwide. It specializes in manufacturing and marketing active pharmaceutical ingredients and ethical pharmaceutical products, which it also produces for third-party clients.

Fact sheet

Solution: Rockwell Automation’s PlantPAx DCS, ThinManager, ftServer 4910, VMware virtualisation

Industry: Pharmaceutical manufacturing

Provider: STB SYS Automation

User: Chemi

Chemi’s Patrica site in Frosinone, Italy, recently upgraded its production control system as part of a modernization project. The existing distributed control system (DCS) had undergone several process implementations over the years and had become limited and obsolete. Chemi chose to replace this outdated system with a next-generation architecture that could deliver improved performance, adhere to good manufacturing practice (GMP) guidelines and align with the requirements of a modern smart factory.

Renewal based on diverse IT infrastructure

The project originally aimed to enhance the technology and performance of existing plants. The Stratus ftServer platform proved to be the ideal choice for this.

“Upon discovering Stratus, we were impressed by the technical capabilities of their solutions, specifically designed to ensure business continuity of critical applications,” explains Francesco Cecconi, CEO of STB SYS Automation. “While we had previously relied on virtual machines configured on server clusters, once we understood Stratus’ technology, we quickly decided to adopt it for the Chemi project.” During the planned upgrade activities carried out by STB SYS Automation, a significant portion of the automation hardware within the plants was retained. The main focus of the project was on rewriting the control program while preserving the functionality of the existing logic.

However, the IT infrastructure underwent a complete overhaul as well, leveraging the capabilities of the Stratus ftServer. The ftServer is a fully integrated and continuously available fault-tolerant edge computing platform, which guarantees uninterrupted execution of critical software applications, even in the face of component failures, with no risk of data loss.

The project began in early 2022, outlining a roadmap divided into three phases, each focused on activities in the three synthesis departments of the Patrica plant. These three departments are highly adaptable and can be configured freely to handle various types of production. The production environment’s agility allows the 14 multifunctional reactors to process batches of different substances.

After the successful completion of the first phase of plant work, the project schedule faced an unexpected revision due to Chemi’s decision to construct two new plants.

Consequently, Chemi chose to equip the new facilities with an additional DCS control system. This led to the postponement of the second phase of the project, which is now expected to be completed by the end of 2023.

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