Rockwell Automation Fair Rocks the Life Sciences

There is quite nothing like a trade show that provides complimentary lunch, snacks, and beverages to keep you charged as you plow the show floors. With an orange juice and muffin in hand I spent the morning at the Life Sciences Industry Forum of the Rockwell Automation Fair where manufacturing success was the topic of conversation. Industry professionals spent the day discussing the ways in which integrating manufacturing and information systems can help achieve operational excellence in the life sciences. Highlights: Alan Thomas, vice president of Jacobs Engineering, began by addressing the recent global trends in life sciences manufacturing. He touched briefly on increased investment of manufacturing in particular India and China and the challenges the industry faces in terms of quality control with production handled in developing countries. Thomas also discussed the effect of fewer blockbuster drugs on the development and expansion of manufacturing facilities. Drug manufacturing facilities need to take an integrated approach to their new facilities and/or expansion of current plants, he said, and sustainability needs to be at the forefront of life science development. Scott Sommer, automation technology manager at Jacobs Engineering followed with a presentation on automation trends that can optimize manufacturing. Sommer focused on measuring the value of each manufacturing application to determine its yield. Defining data requirements and utilizing "master data" in the initial production phases can help to assess an application's long-term value, he said. In regards to automation systems, Sommer discussed how maximization of value should bear far greater importance than minimization of cost. Value should be the factor by which all automation and manufacturing applications are measured for success. MES was later discussed by Jim Labonty, associate director for automation and systems engineering at Wyeth Biotech. He warned of the dangers of using an MES solution on all process areas as a 'one size fits all' mechanism. Numerous automation systems must have varying levels of MES integration in order for the system to be profitable at each level, he advised. "Different Horses for Different Courses," he stressed (fittingly also the title of his presentation). These presentations in full will be posted to in the upcoming weeks. On the show floor, companies such as burkert, Cognex Corp., Hoffman, Matrikon, Stratus, and many more displayed their latest and greatest. For product information from the show, please visit our New Product section. MV