The process of replacing an existing batch system and providing for more transparency involves developing a system capable of full batch processing but also of running phases manually if the full system becomes unavailable.
This, of course, incorporates the basic concepts of the S88 standard for batch process control but unfortunately, a strict adherence to the S88 standard does not provide all the functionality that is needed. For this implementation at a chemical plant, operators needed to have the ability to run process phases independent of the unit.
So, to complete this replacement, a system needed to be developed that included all programming levels, but allowed for more manual control of the functions in case the batch executive failed. The system also needed to fit into the graphic and operator interface standards established at the site.
The solution involved moving the configuration to the equipment module level. This provided the ability to individually start and stop the equipment modules without having to start a phase. Not only did this change help accomplish the goal at hand, it also fit in with how the current system already worked.
The new system allows for recipe parameters to be set at the equipment level in the event of a batch system failure. But, if the batch executive is running correctly, default recipe parameters are enforced and that, in turn, provides consistent quality. The new operator interface has been designed such that the operator can seamlessly alternate between running with the batch system or without the batch system.
The end result is that the system is set up for the best results possible in either situation. This type of flexibility is particularly helpful in chemical applications where the ability to react to unforeseen circumstances is critical.
Successful batch control implementations allow companies to optimize timing and run multiple batches simultaneously. With batch processing solutions, companies gain quality standardization and optimize overall equipment effectiveness. They’re able to increase throughput, reduce risk of cross contamination, and reduce risk of human error because the automated system takes the place of operator decisions. Systems can be validated and guaranteed to run the same way every time and also to present failure notifications when needed, giving greater assurance of adherence to the standards set by regulatory organizations like the FDA.
In some cases, a strict reliance upon the automated batch can increase reaction time, which, in turn, increases risk. This solution combines the advantages of a full batch system with the flexibility required to adequately react to adverse conditions.