Thinking differently about process control strategies

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It’s time to think differently when looking at upgrading ageing distributed control systems.

Gaetano Micera
Director Life Science Industry Europe
Yokogawa Europe

In the past, upgrading a Distributed Control System (DCS) typically involved ripping out the old system and replacing it with a new one from a different vendor, or undergoing a hardware or software upgrade.

While DCS reliability and total cost of ownership from different vendors can vary, there is a lot less variation today in the overall functionality offered by DCS suppliers and this poses a challenge in more mature European process industry – such as in the pharmaceutical sector – where the transition towards smart manufacturing has become key to survival.

An increased appetite for production flexibility and agility means wellestablished industries must strive for greater readiness to embrace new technologies, standards and trends.

Today, pharmaceutical production plants must embrace more flexible production and faster process implementation to reduce time to market for new product developments

They also need improved supply chain management to ensure better product quality and more stable/reliable product supply, and they need to reach target yields faster.

The issue of relatively little incremental functionality and (economical) value of replacement DCS systems is a major constraint for achieving these goals as companies seek to digitalise their operations, achieve smart manufacturing, and advance towards more autonomous operations. This is because the DCS is effectively a closed system, so cannot integrate easily into other systems.

Moving forwards

In moving towards autonomous operations, horizontal and vertical integration between and across systems is critical. Horizontal integration refers to the integration of the different on-premise systems.

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