BRIDGING BIGGER GAPS
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;