Batch process manufacturers are continuously looking for new ways to improve processes and production techniques and to be more efficient to remain competitive. Manufacturers see new technologies as a key to improving their operations and want batch systems to have flexibility and options to better fit and adapt to the needs of the process.

As batch users in the food and beverage, pharmaceutical, and chemical industries seek to implement or modernize their existing batch systems, the three core capabilities they should look for in their new control and information technology are mobility, enhanced controller integration, and information-enabled decision making.

Bottling automation.
(Image source: ISA.org)

Mobility

A batch system with mobile capabilities frees workers from time-draining activities. A mobile platform allows operators, supervisors, and maintenance technicians to perform a range of actions—such as running schedules, viewing logs, and troubleshooting diagnostics—from a mobile device regardless of their location. This reduces steps and improves workflows in batch operations to keep production running and minimize downtime.

Enhanced controller integration

A modern batch system should provide flexibility regardless of the infrastructure. Depending on a facility’s specific architecture and process needs, the correct solution could be controller-based, server-based, or a combination of the two.

A modern batch system truly differentiates itself by easily allowing server-based and controller-based architectures to work together and create a unified user experience. Consider the example of a clean-in-place skid for a pharmaceutical operation. Traditionally, end users receive the skid from the equipment builder and then have to reprogram it for integration with the batch control system. Not only are the end users paying for unused engineering, but they also have to spend additional time rewriting the skid’s code and redoing the testing and commissioning. Building the batch operation into the controller eliminates the need to rewrite coding, because the skid can be seamlessly integrated into the larger control system. This helps end users reduce startup and commissioning times by as much as two months, while also minimizing or even eliminating redesign and engineering costs.

Information-enabled decision making

Modern batch software allows end users to configure, view, and obtain batch-sequence data stored in the controller. This increases visibility and accessibility to all stages of production. In a connected enterprise, batch and process data can be seamlessly shared via industrial-process and enterprise systems to support better decision making at all levels of an organization.

>>Read more by Dan UpDyke, InTech Magazine, Sep-Oct, 2016

Modern batch control