Automated Process Control for the Development Laboratory - - BioPharm International


Automated Process Control for the Development Laboratory

BioPharm International
Volume 19, Issue 3


It is often essential to bridge the gaps between different subsystems within the bigger process picture, not only to share and communicate with the reactors and other instruments directly involved in fermentation and cell culture experiments, but also to bring the upstream, downstream, and side subsystems into the picture. When a sample from a reactor is taken aside for specialized analysis, valuable results will be calculated there. Those results provide critical information about the success of the process and quality of the product, and those results should be integrated into the records and control decisions for the on-going process. If the sampling, analysis, and results of the various subsystems can be automatically integrated, you have a more efficient process and a higher-quality product.

For example, at one facility, the same bioreactor automation system is controlling a high-pressure liquid chromatograph and recording results of chromatography runs for samples taken from the bioreactors upstream. At another, an in-situ microscope with attached camera takes images of cells in the bioreactor. The system controls the camera and microscope, displays and stores images, and automatically analyzes certain cell features in the images. The open architecture of the automation software allows these kinds of subsystems to be integrated into the larger process.

Once the entire process is linked and unified, bridges can be built to other parts of the business enterprise, such as laboratory information management systems (LIMS). Whenever data from one system must be manually entered into another, there's an opportunity for automation. Of course, it is best to focus first on building bridges across gaps in the system that must be crossed on an hourly or daily basis, then address the more infrequent data transfers.

Meg Kay is director of process control products at Jova Solutions (formerly WireWorks West, Inc.) , 965 Mission Street, Suite 600, San Francisco, CA 94103; 415.348.1400; fax, 415.348.1414;

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