Displaying items by tag: COPADATA

Thursday, 14 October 2021 10:20

Let's not waste time and energy

~ How the operational management of photovoltaic power plants succeed at the first attempt ~

The climate crisis requires urgent action as we need to significantly reduce our CO2 emissions to curb climate change and limit the average temperature increase to about 1.5°C. Here, Austrian ORF meteorologist, Marcus Wadsack writes: We are the first generation to feel climate change and the last to do something about it. We have the technology and the money, it would be negligent if we do nothing.

Nature itself provides climate-neutral energy in abundance. Year after year, the sun alone supplies more than 10,000 times the annual energy demand of the entire human race. The task of photovoltaic power plants is to convert the sun's rays into electricity. But the optimal management of the huge number of components like PV panels, converters or switchgear requires advanced techniques and methods.

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Using the sun's energy with automation
Whether small solar PV systems with an electrical output of 1MW or large ones with well over 100MW, they should all be operated as close as possible to the optimum and must therefore be monitored. In addition, when such large outputs are fed into the power grid, they must be continuously reported to the entity responsible for the grid. The feeding point is usually a substation with special features in terms of switching reliability and remote monitoring. But not only online monitoring and control is important, retrospective monitoring of key indicators should also be possible. After all, the operator wants to know what return his investment is delivering or where there is a need for optimization.

To meet all these requirements, COPA-DATA has developed the Solar PV Application Set based on its zenon software platform. An Application Set is an application template that helps integrators and operators alike to create a specific process visualization quickly and easily.

For solar PV systems, the Application Set offers the ideal overview, summarizes all relevant components such as PV modules and strings, combiner boxes and inverters and clearly displays their operating status. In a solar heat map, the service engineer can immediately see which parts of the system are shaded or dirty or have other deviations or errors. This allows continuous maintenance work to be carried out in a simple and targeted manner, but also with foresight.

Another great advantage lies in the integrated reporting functions of zenon. Meaningful statistics can be created based on value archives of any duration and pre-compression. Thus, for example, causes of alarms can be analyzed, or yield figures and benchmarks — for example, according to IEC 61724 — can be formed. The possibility of uncomplicated reporting in zenon, based on an integrated database, means an invaluable advantage in the strategic optimization of system operation.

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Accurate forecasting and balancing of the yields in real time is another important aspect of the automation of solar power plants. Corresponding outputs or surpluses must be precisely coordinated with the grid operator. On the other hand, specifications must be received from the grid operators. The data exchange required for this can take place via various industry protocols such as IE C 60870, DNP3 or OPC-UA as well as via REST or MQTT-based web protocols (XML, JSON) and must in any case fulfill a sufficient degree of robustness as well as cyber security.

Switchgear or substations form the bridge between the local power plant and the next higher network level. Here, expensive high-voltage components must be reliably orchestrated and monitored. Several specialized switching and protection systems from different manufacturers are typically used here. Here, zenon provides a comprehensive overview by means of the topological real-time representation of the networks. Powerful functions for the safe execution, but also recording and playback of complex switching operations can be easily used with the zenon software platform.

The possibilities of modern solar PV operation management
The consistent use of renewable energies for the purpose of mitigating the negative consequences of climate change must be made a top priority, especially in view of the effects that are already being clearly felt. Photovoltaic power plants are a supporting pillar for a carbon neutral energy economy.

Intelligent automation helps to fully exploit the potential of photovoltaic power plants and to optimize yields over many years. The zenon software platform covers a unique spectrum of tasks for the operational management of photovoltaic power plants as well as surrounding switchgear or substations. The Solar PV Application Set in zenon effectively combines important functions and thus creates the ideal prerequisite for the perfect use of the valuable energy that our sun offers us.

Visit the COPA-DATA website for more product information, or click here to contact  directly.

About COPA-DATA
COPA-DATA is an independent software manufacturer that specializes in digitalization for the manufacturing industry and energy sector. Its zenon® software platform enables users worldwide to automate, manage, monitor, integrate and optimize machines, equipment, buildings and power grids. COPA-DATA combines decades of experience in automation with the potential of digital transformation. In this way, the company supports its customers to achieve their objectives more easily, faster and more efficiently.
The family-owned business was founded by Thomas Punzenberger in 1987 in Salzburg, Austria. In 2020, with more than 300 employees worldwide, it generated revenue of EUR 54 million. www.copadata.com

Published in Power & water
Tagged under

Industrial software supplier COPA-DATA is launching a webinar series to offer practical advice and guidance on digital transformation for production and plant optimization in the food and beverage industry. The series will take place over three weeks in November, with one 30-minute power session taking place each week. COPA-DATA UK managing director, Martyn Williams will introduce the first webinar in the series on Thursday, November 11, 2021. To secure a place, register on the COPA-DATA website.

The webinars will explore areas of digital transformation in the food and beverage industry and discuss how businesses can use tools, like zenon, to optimize their production, with a focus on innovation, digitalization and sustainability. Led by COPA-DATA’s specialists, attendees can expect a valuable guide to transformation with industry insights, expert advice and customer case studies.

The power sessions will be delivered by COPA-DATA food and beverage industry manager Emilian Axinia, the COPA-DATA food and beverage industry manager. Emilian has over 20 years of experience in engineering and automation projects in the food and beverage industry. Since joining COPA-DATA in 2007, his focus has been to develop the business in this area using his comprehensive knowledge of the unique challenges it faces.

The first of the sessions will be held on Thursday, November 11 at 10:00am (GMT). The webinar, entitled “From Pilot to Rollout, for optimizing packaging processes” will introduce transformation in the industry, along with how the implementation of a line efficiency system has benefited brewery group, Molson Coors, in their operations. Attendees will learn the key areas for product and process innovation for fluid supply chains and how they can apply the processes used in the case studies to their own business.

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Session two, “A digitalization tree growing on production data humus”, will take place on Thursday, November 18. The webinar will also examine the benefits of leveraging manufacturing data through a case study about how drink and brewing company AB-InBev leverage plant floor data to improve processes, and the lessons in optimization that can be learned from this for other companies.

The series will conclude on Thursday, November 25 with “Why software frees up teams’ creativity for improvements”. This webinar will discuss how using platforms such as zenon can enable companies to dedicate their creativity and skill to driving growth. This session will cover the final stage of your transformation journey and the industries commitment to carbon-neutral operations, focusing on a study on how Carlsberg targeted CO2 neutrality in their operation. Sustainability is an increasing priority for many industries, and this case study will explore how food and beverage businesses can become more efficient and environmentally friendly.

Expert Insights

Each session will also include a Q&A, where attendees will have the opportunity to consult COPA-DAT’s experts on how zenon may support them on their journey. Martyn Williams will introduce the sessions, drawing on his years of experience in business management and his background in field sales and engineering to give attendees insight into how they can transform their business.

“These webinars offer a fantastic opportunity for food and beverage companies to learn more about successful digitalization. We use case studies focusing on real world success stories in this industry with proven results to illustrate the impact digital tools can make to a business,” explained Martyn. “The online platform also makes these sessions accessible to anyone working in the industry who might benefit”.

Industry COPA-DATA experts contributing to the webinar series include Alexander Fröhlich, a food and beverage industry, who has been with the company for over a decade, applying his skills in technical product management and application package creation. Also joining the sessions will be specialist Andreas Grün, to help attendees to plan and execute their transformation journey using his knowledge of the food and beverage industry. Finally, Head of key account management Bernhard Ebert will also be in attendance, offering advice and guidance on digitalization.

The Trail of Transformation webinar series offers a unique opportunity to learn more about key areas for digital transformation specifically aimed at food and beverage. Ready to learn more? Register for the webinar series here. The first event will take place on November 11, 10:00am (GMT).

About COPA-DATA

COPA-DATA is an independent software manufacturer that specializes in digitalization for the manufacturing industry and energy sector. Its zenon® software platform enables users worldwide to automate, manage, monitor, integrate and optimize machines, equipment, buildings and power grids. COPA-DATA combines decades of experience in automation with the potential of digital transformation. In this way, the company supports its customers to achieve their objectives more easily, faster and more efficiently.
The family-owned business was founded by Thomas Punzenberger in 1987 in Salzburg, Austria. In 2020, with more than 300 employees worldwide, it generated revenue of EUR 54 million. www.copadata.com

Published in Food & Materials
Tagged under

Automation expert, COPA-DATA is expanding its technology offering to provide digitalisation software to small breweries. The software developer, which launched its automation platform zenon back in 1987, has long assisted in the digitalisation efforts of food and beverage manufacturers worldwide. Now, COPA-DATA UK will support the growing number of small and microbreweries in the UK with a bespoke technology offering for brewers.

Britain’s brewing industry has changed drastically in the last decade, with independent, small and micro-sized brewers enjoying sizable growth. According to the SIBA British Craft Beer Report 2020, this shift can be attributed to consumer demand for craft beers from independents rather than large and global manufacturers.

However, the small brewing market has begun to reach its saturation point. Of the 2,278 breweries recorded as active in the UK in 2018, 1,978 of these were microbreweries. According to data presented by Statistica, over 80 per cent of these microbreweries recorded falling sales in April 2020.

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To support small brewers in an increasingly saturated market, COPA-DATA’s zenon for breweries has been developed to help them compete in this arena and also solve some of the common challenges breweries face. Using COPA-DATA’s digitalisation and manufacturing expertise, these pain points focus on using data to manage operations, handle recipes and apply data to production.

“zenon is the ideal software choice for small brewers with big goals,” explained Martyn Williams, Managing Director of COPA-DATA UK. “The platform can be used to manage all data produced in a brewing environment, including energy management, security and recipe handling. As an intuitive platform, zenon allows users to create and execute new recipes, including beer types and new products, in a completely flexible way — without changes to hardware and machinery and no previous experiences or competencies required.

“Crucially, zenon allows maximum flexibility and can adapt to the needs of the brewery. As a fully scalable platform, zenon can support brewers with small projects, or grow with the business and form part of a complete software solution,” continued Williams.

“In the most highly scaled example, zenon can be deployed as a complete automation package for brewing and beer production, as well as the site’s enterprise technologies and even the building management system (BMS). In fact, this is exactly how zenon operates for users in largescale manufacturing facilities, of which we have long supported food and beverage, pharmaceutical and automotive manufacturing organisations.”

As part of the new offering, COPA-DATA promises to support small brewers to gain a competitive advantage. Using zenon, breweries can enjoy shortened time-to-market and insight on how to improve production through real-time data.

The platform’s data collection processes can also support with effective batch control, delivered in accordance with ISA-88, a standard for equipment and procedures related to batch production. Similarly, zenon’s real-time data collection and analysis allows brewers to identify problems in production as they occur, with a Process Recorder module available to review historical errors in production.

To find out more about COPA-DATA’s offering for brewing, download the brochure here.

About COPA-DATA

COPA-DATA is an independent software manufacturer that specializes in digitalization for the manufacturing industry and energy sector. Its zenon® software platform enables users worldwide to automate, manage, monitor, integrate and optimize machines, equipment, buildings and power grids. COPA-DATA combines decades of experience in automation with the potential of digital transformation. In this way, the company supports its customers to achieve their objectives more easily, faster and more efficiently.
The family-owned business was founded by Thomas Punzenberger in 1987 in Salzburg, Austria. In 2020, with more than 300 employees worldwide, it generated revenue of EUR 54 million.

Published in Food & Materials
Tagged under
Wednesday, 22 September 2021 12:34

Brewing’s journey into automation

~ If craft brewers did software ~

Britain’s brewing industry has expanded from a modest 1,218 breweries in 2012 to a colossal 3,018 in 2020 – with small and microbreweries accounting for over 80 per cent of this figure. With the industry reaching a saturation point, Martyn Williams, managing director of COPA-DATA UK explains how digital tools can help small brewers compete in a bubbling market.

Small breweries face many challenges that reinforce their tendency to stay small — one of which is consistency. As with any consumable product, brewers must ensure there’s an accurate audit trail, ingredients are traceable, and that recipe management ensures every batch is the same.

Then, there is the challenge of achieving high enough throughput to yield a profit. According to data from Statistics Canada, a nation that has seen comparable growth to the UK’s craft beer explosion, just 50 per cent of Canadian breweries actually make a profit.

Automation is an obvious option to help small brewers raise their bar. However, unlike the AB InBev’s of the brewing world, most smaller brands cannot invest in expensive digitalization tools — or at least, they aren’t aware of the options accessible to them.

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Process control
Brewers taking their first steps into larger volume brewing do not need an all bells and whistles automation tool. Fundamentally, small brewers want to improve operations to a point at which profit becomes inevitable. To achieve this, process control is crucial.

Take the lautering process as an example. Before fermentation begins, the lauter tun is used to separate liquid from spent grain. The vessel continually filters the mash through a bed of malt grist, runs it through a sieve and, in some breweries, rotating blades cut through the grist to loosen it. The ultimate output of this process is the wort, the liquid that determines the taste of the beer — something that must remain consistent to keep quality checkers, buyers and ultimately, beer drinkers happy.

To control this process, digital software can be deployed across equipment to monitor its performance. Providing the software can communicate across several protocols — as are often present in brewing facilities — the operator can keep an eye on the operations of the sieve, blades and peripheral equipment, ensuring there are no discrepancies.

Advantages of automation
COPA-DATA’s zenon for small brewers can make this possible without the hefty investment typically associated with brewing software. The tool allows operators to visualize brewing and know what’s happening at all times. Using this system, they can react to emergencies and prevent errors before they occur. What’s more, this isn’t just possible on a single machine, but can be scaled across the entire brewery to ensure all aspects are controlled effectively, including timings, temperatures, and quantities.

Collecting real-time data not only allows brewers to create a historical record of production, but can also provide a tamper proof audit trail. In zenon, the module known as the Process Recorder allows operators to ‘play back’ a live process and identify errors, enabling them to identify root causes of issues and adjust processes accordingly. The ISA-88 complaint zenon batch module assists small brewers to meet the standards demanded for consistency and quality. These features also support small brewers achieve regulatory compliance, such as the Weights and Measures Regulations.

zenon is already used by many breweries, large and small. However, with many of Britain’s small and micro brewers taking their first steps into automation, how can they ensure investment is low risk, high reward?

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Keep it scalable
Automation is met with some tension in the small brewing world. This is somewhat related to the romanticism associated with brewing, but often there’s a misunderstanding of the degree of automation required to improve profitability.

Small breweries needn’t overhaul their existing processes or invest extensively to achieve good results. Instead, software can provide a way for brewers to dip their toes into automation in a scalable way. For instance, this might begin with automating the management of one production line and eventually scale to multi-line, energy management or even vertical integration with other areas of a facility, such as enterprise systems.

Like small breweries themselves, software for brewing processes should be able to expand and develop over time. However, to enable growth from the 15,000th barrel to the 150,000th — and to compete with the other 2,414 small and microbreweries in the UK — beginning the journey into automation is key.

About COPA-DATA
COPA-DATA is an independent software manufacturer that specializes in digitalization for the manufacturing industry and energy sector. Its zenon® software platform enables users worldwide to automate, manage, monitor, integrate and optimize machines, equipment, buildings and power grids. COPA-DATA combines decades of experience in automation with the potential of digital transformation. In this way, the company supports its customers to achieve their objectives more easily, faster and more efficiently.
The family-owned business was founded by Thomas Punzenberger in 1987 in Salzburg, Austria. In 2020, with more than 300 employees worldwide, it generated revenue of EUR 54 million.

Published in Food & Materials
Tagged under

Pharmaceutical manufacturers are faced with a complex juxtaposition medicines are developing at a rapid rate, while physical production lines are lagging behind. Here, Alexandra Hughes, Industry Sales Manager at automation software supplier, COPA-DATA UK, explains how technology can be used to improve equipment agility in pharmaceutical manufacturing.

The global vaccine effort in response to the COVID-19 pandemic is a clear example of the change of pace in pharmaceutical manufacturing. Vaccines aside, time-to-market is an increasingly important factor for the development of all types of pharmaceutical products. Not only is increased agility crucial to beating competitors to market, but also to keep production as streamlined as possible and enhance the throughput of a facility.

Throughput capacity is particularly important for today’s market. Unlike facilities of several decades ago, which may have focused on producing just a handful of medicines — typically of the same form, such as tablets, liquid medicines, or vaccines — today’s manufacturing lines are expected to adapt for multiple different products. This expands to accommodate the manufacture of personalised medicines and small batches.

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Pharma’s inflexibility problem

One of the greatest barriers to achieving this level of agility is the inflexibility of current pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities. As many of these factories operate with legacy machinery that is several decades old, producing new, novel medicines at the drop of a hat often is not feasible. At least, not without significant investment.

That said, the cost of introducing new equipment to a site can be colossal. From the initial cost of the machine through to programming and integration, facilities managers can rack up millions in costs for the sake of a small batch. When considering the factory footprint required for some pharmaceutical equipment too, this option is often impractical.  

Digitalization for agility

Implementing digital tools is one method to overcome this challenge. Legacy equipment can often be retrofitted with software to prepare it for the introduction of new product lines, or to allow it to communicate with other pieces of equipment.

Consider a 1990s liquid vial filling machine as an example. This could be updated to communicate seamlessly with a conveyor — despite being manufactured 30 years ago and coming from a different original equipment manufacturer (OEM). Using the right software platform, allows these machines to continue to provide value and they can be updated and designed to move and fill vials in a choreographed manner. What’s more, by adding more machinery to the mix, the entire process can be completed in a faster way than would be possible independently.  

To achieve this, manufacturers must consider the communication protocol of the equipment and whether this is compatible with the software in question. To share data effectively from multiple protocols, independent software that is suitable for facilities with multiple equipment types is essential.

Modular pharma

In addition to enhancing equipment communication, many pharmaceutical manufacturers are implementing modular production to meet the demand for personalised and small batch medicines. Modular production describes a production line that is broken into smaller modules, allowing manufacturers to isolate or combine specific modules to create new lines.

Digitalisation software can also make this possible, even with legacy equipment. What’s more, Module Type Packages (MTPs) can make modular production more straightforward. In the case of COPA-DATA’s zenon, a software platform for pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities, the tool can map out modular automation while maintaining full connectivity and control of the facility. For pharmaceutical manufacturers using zenon, this allows them to make otherwise inflexible production lines far more agile.

The pace of change in the pharmaceutical industry is faster, fiercer and often more urgent than ever before. While R&D teams are storming ahead, manufacturing facilities themselves cannot adapt at the same rate. When the deployment of new physical equipment is out of the question, digital tools must be considered to retrofit production lines and equip them with greater flexibility, dexterity and in turn, possibility.

About COPA-DATA

COPA-DATA is an independent software manufacturer that specializes in digitalization for the manufacturing industry and energy sector. Its zenon® software platform enables users worldwide to automate, manage, monitor, integrate and optimize machines, equipment, buildings and power grids. COPA-DATA combines decades of experience in automation with the potential of digital transformation. In this way, the company supports its customers to achieve their objectives more easily, faster and more efficiently.
The family-owned business was founded by Thomas Punzenberger in 1987 in Salzburg, Austria. In 2020, with more than 300 employees worldwide, it generated revenue of EUR 54 million.

www.copadata.com

Published in Chemicals
Tagged under
Tuesday, 10 August 2021 10:40

Regulation-ready software at 3P Innovations

Pharmaceutical compliance is no easy feat. To support 3P Innovation in its development of production equipment for life sciences, COPA-DATA provided flexible, regulation-proof software for the creation of an ultra-compact fill-finish platform.

3P is a life sciences engineering and custom automation company. The organization works collaboratively with pharmaceutical and medical device businesses to develop new products through the design, manufacture and support of production equipment.

Based in a brand-new purpose-built facility in Warwick, UK, 3P services a multi-national customer base with machines installed right across the world.

3P‘s offering includes aseptic processing machines, powder and liquid filling technologies, custom device manufacture, as well as assembly and testing. For this project, 3P used zenon to develop an automated, ultra-compact and highly flexible fill-finish platform.

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Fill-finish platform

As a life sciences organization, regulatory compliance is high on 3P’s agenda, and a project to create a new fill-finish platform was no exception.

The project’s desired outcome was the creation of an improved fill-finish platform — fill-finish platforms are used to manage the process of filling vials, syringes, cartridges, and bottles with a vaccine, medicine or ingredient. Naturally, these platforms must be aseptic, precise and in an ideal world, fully automated.

The goal was an automated fill-finish process that could be used in either single or multi-container formats. The technology would help 3P’s customers to manufacture pre-clinical and GMP clinical batches quickly and cost effectively and crucially, would reduce end user’s engineering time.

As a product for the life sciences sector, this technology also needed to comply with FDA 21 CFR Part 11 and EudraLex Annex 11 — regulations covering the pharmaceutical industries in both the United States and Europe.

Meeting industry standards

In the pharmaceutical sector, regulatory compliance is largely reliant on accurate record keeping and audit trails. However, as many pharmaceutical and life sciences organizations move away from paper-based records, compliance against FDA 21 CFR Part 11 also has specific requirements for electronic record keeping.

The regulation requires organizations to provide evidence that electronic documents and signatures are authentic. FDA 21 CFR Part 11 compatible software is the most effective way to ensure compliance and COPA-DATA’s pharmaceutical automation software, zenon, provides this reassurance.

zenon is an industrial software platform with specific advantages to the life sciences sector. While it can be used at the application level for operating projects, it can also be used in the engineering environment to create projects. Most importantly, for 3P, zenon is developed specifically to meet the FDA 21 CFR Part 11 criteria and carries compliance against the regulation throughout all its modules.

For 3P, choosing zenon as a software platform could ensure compliance for the fill-finish process through built-in recipe management, accurate audit trails and user administration functionality.

Developing new tech

The objective of 3P’s new fill-finish technology was to minimize the risk involved in filling and finishing processes. The new platform needed to be flexible, scalable and allow end users to integrate a wide variety of different pump brands and technologies.

Notably, 3P needed the platform to be compatible with both rotary piston and peristaltic pumps to ensure it was suitable for different types of end users.

“At 3P, many of our machines are uniquely configured for a client application or are even a completely bespoke machine,“ explained Chris Webber, control systems manager at 3P Innovation. “This requires us to generate new HMI screens for each project and all of those must enable operators to intuitively operate a complex piece of automation. COPA-DATA‘s zenon software allows us to quickly evolve our HMI designs during the development phase, synchronising our in-house design styles with the new functionality needed on each machine and incorporating feedback from operators.”

By choosing to develop an ultra-compact platform, 3P’s technology also needed to fit easily into existing insulators, bio-safety cabinets and other containment equipment. The design of the platform also included multiple tools on the same machine; liquid fill, nitrogen flush, check-weigh, stopper and cap.

Developing such a multifaceted platform required software that facilitated this level of diversity. zenon was ideal for this.

As a truly independent software platform, zenon does not limit users to specific equipment manufacturers or communication protocols. In fact, zenon allows for communication with a wide variety of manufacturers and technologies, making it truly flexible and scalable. For customers like 3P, this ensures the platform is versatile and future proof. 

Regulatory compliance is key for the life sciences industry, as well as the machinery deployed in pharmaceutical plants. Thankfully though, it needn’t cause a headache. New technology is providing easier, faster, and more effective ways to adhere to the industries regulatory hurdles.

Highlights:

[e.g. technical details or main customer benefits; 4-10 bullet points]

  • FDA 21 CFR Part 11 compatibility
  • Seamless communication with other technologies
  • Built-in recipe management
  • Scalable technology
  • Flexible user administration

 

Published in Chemicals
Tagged under

Demand for digitalization has not faltered during the pandemic. In fact, it has thrived. Automation software and digitalization expert, COPA-DATA experienced this first-hand during 2020 – increasing turnover, expanding its team, and investing in new subsidiaries. Now, the company is making a €10 million investment to headquarters in Salzburg, Austria. COPA-DATA’s momentum represents an increasing demand for digitalization in its core markets of manufacturing, energy and infrastructure, in which the company generated €54 million turnover last year. 

Despite varying economic conditions in its core focus industries, the company achieved six per cent growth from annual sales during 2020. This growth represents an increasing need for digital tools to support businesses in last year’s volatile market conditions.

copadata logoWith its zenon software platform, COPA-DATA provides customers with a tool for data capture, analysis, machine control and automation. Deployable across manufacturing facilities, energy grids and infrastructure projects, zenon can support flexibility, efficiency, and resilience.

Investing in people and places

Recruitment has also been high on COPA-DATA’s agenda, expanding its workforce to over 300 employees worldwide in 2020. This included establishing a new team to lead COPA-DATA’s latest subsidiary, based in Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, in the Middle East. The new facility stands alongside COPA-DATA’s extensive network of local subsidiaries and partners, which now spans six continents.

These achievements have driven further investment in the company’s headquarters in Salzburg, Austria. In October 2020, the foundations were laid for a €10 million low energy facility which will accommodate a further 120 employees. The state-of-the-art site will enable COPA-DATA to better support its subsidiary networks through administrative functions, while also improving the base in which zenon is developed and engineered.

Technology for new challenges

With new iterations of zenon being developed on a yearly basis, expanding COPA-DATA’s headquarters provides opportunity to invest in the company’s engineers. An important part of this investment in 2021 is the latest major release, zenon 10, which was made available in May 2021. The updated version offers customers an integrated overall solution, which has been developed to solve the unprecedented business events that occurred in the previous twelve months.

“Fortunately, we were able to support our customers and partners with our zenon software platform to overcome the unique challenges of 2020,” said Thomas Punzenberger, Founder and CEO of COPA-DATA. “Thanks to our employees and our innovative digital solutions for the fusion of OT and IT, our business has continued to grow steadily. Even in uncertain times, our credo remains purposeful: There must be an easier way!"

COPA-DATA’s investments in people, places and technology will continue in 2021 and beyond, having used the previous year’s growth to enhance the company’s offering. During 2020, COPA-DATA responded to the pandemic-induced contact restrictions by offering a wide range of webinars and digital events. Moving forward, this approach will be further extended and supplemented with hybrid training sessions so customers can choose to participate on-site or virtually.

"During the pandemic, our focus was on keeping contact with our customers and partners as well as with each other as close as possible,” added Phillip Werr, CMO and COO at COPA-DATA. “With our virtual events 'zenonIZE' held in June 2020 and 2021, we were able to inspire over 1,000 decision makers in the industry to act right now and continue to drive digitalization forward. We thus provide existing and future users with know-how on industry-specific solutions around our zenon software platform.”

More information on COPA-DATA can be found at www.copadata.com.

About COPA-DATA

COPA-DATA is an independent software manufacturer that specializes in digitalization for the manufacturing industry and energy sector. Its zenon® software platform enables users worldwide to automate, manage, monitor, integrate and optimize machines, equipment, buildings and power grids. COPA-DATA combines decades of experience in automation with the potential of digital transformation. In this way, the company supports its customers to achieve their objectives more easily, faster and more efficiently.
The family-owned business was founded by Thomas Punzenberger in 1987 in Salzburg, Austria. In 2020, with more than 300 employees worldwide, it generated revenue of EUR 54 million.

Published in Technology News
Tagged under
Wednesday, 05 May 2021 09:01

Today’s pharma manufacturing needs

Today, pharmaceutical companies are confronted with more frequent changes in production, but industry needs to ensure it is at the forefront of innovation in a time of a healthcare crisis. Here, Giuseppe Menin, Industry Manager at automation software supplier COPA-DATA, explains why modular production is crucial for enabling more flexible pharmaceutical production.

Public awareness regarding the complexity of pharmaceutical production has never been so widespread, with the effort of life science companies working at breakneck speed to develop safe and effective treatments to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic being well-documented.

Pharma facilities are being set up, or even converted, to produce the COVID-19 vaccine in several plants to help increase its availability — and the need for flexibility is clear. From producing new drugs in small batch sizes, to reconfiguring machines or equipment in already validated lines, pharma manufacturers require the ability to produce different drugs on the same production line — COVID-19 related or not.

Yet, flexibility is lacking in the pharmaceutical industry.

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Current pharma issues
Drugs are currently produced according to validated processes, following precise workflows. Once the production of a drug is assigned to a manufacturing line, the steps for production are defined in a document called Master Batch Record (MBRs).

The MBRs make it easy to repeat the production of the same drug, but changing the production  configuration or product volume requires alterations to the validated processes. Ultimately, this comes at a cost and presents obstacles to innovation and flexibility.

Here, equipment skids — like a single-use bioreactor — need to be treated as bespoke units when connected to control systems. This places automation on the critical path for facility design, build and reconfiguration, although biotech companies would exchange skids according to different manufacturing requirements.

The modular way
Ideally, pharma manufacturers should have a set of modules that perform a specific function, like a filter, a pump or more complex devices such as a single-use bioreactor or a granulator. This allows biotech companies to reconfigure the assembly line by simply connecting different modules together to make a product, before replacing them with others from a different supplier.

Providers must, therefore, enhance interoperability to reduce equipment installation time from months to weeks, or even days, depending on the installation scenario. Of course, users should also be mindful that this concept must support procedures reducing the internal validation effort.

However, this requires the following: a common communication language, a common descriptive model of the various devices, a guided procedure to make configuration changes in the system while maintaining the validation status, and software systems capable of orchestrating the various modules.

In fact, NAMUR, an international association of user companies in the process industry for automation technology, supports this plug-and-play approach by defining Module Type Package (MTP) concept. The model allows for more flexibility, by enabling the quick assembly and disassembly of systems from different vendors in the architecture. It also facilitates better scalability than previous models by ensuring that the data can be reorganized and presented in a way that is beneficial to whoever is looking at it.

Data challenges
Innovations of this kind pose considerable challenges, especially for machine builders and software technology providers.

From an automation software perspective, MTP requires a Process Orchestration Layer (POL) to communicate with automation systems from different vendors (Process Equipment Assembly – PEA). But today, classical distributed control systems (DCS) and ISA88 Batch Control engines are designed to operate within a single hardware product family, limiting the interoperability.

Using the MTP approach, PEAs from different manufacturers can instead be integrated into a single POL via an import configuration wizard. From the POL level, it is possible to create and run an ISA88 batch recipe using phases from the different PEAs, Such as an approach requiring an open, flexible and modular control system.

This approach also requires integration of IT systems. This is because it communicates in a transactional, message-oriented way with automation layers dealing with events in real time and data analytics systems, requiring large amounts of data to be stored and exchanged bidirectionally.

In this new scenario, open middleware platforms that provide process orchestration, connectivity services, message brokers, data contextualization, data modelling and data storage play a crucial role. Thankfully, COPA-DATA’s automation software platform, zenon, supports open digitalization in both green and brown fields.

In fact, it is software like this that allows pharmaceutical companies to front the more frequent changes in production required. With flexibility needed more than ever, automation software like zenon enables modular production for processes to become flexible, allowing manufacturers produce a variety of drugs on the same production line — COVID-19 or not.

About COPA-DATA
COPA-DATA is the manufacturer of the zenon® software platform, used in the manufacturing and energy industries for the automated control, monitoring, and optimization of machines, equipment, and power supplies. Founded by Thomas Punzenberger in 1987 and headquartered in Salzburg, Austria, the independent, family-owned company employs approximately 285 workers around the globe. The distribution of software on an international scale is made possible through the company’s eleven subsidiaries and numerous distributors. In addition, more than 270 certified partner companies ensure efficient software implementation for end users in the food & beverage, energy & infrastructure, automotive, and pharmaceutical industries. In 2019, COPA-DATA generated turnover of EUR 51 million.

About zenon
zenon is a software platform from COPA-DATA for manufacturing and the energy industry. Machines and equipment are controlled, monitored and optimized. zenon’s particular strength is open and reliable communication in heterogeneous production facilities. Open interfaces and over 300 native drivers and communication protocols support the horizontal and vertical integration. This allows for continuous implementation of the Industrial IoT and the Smart Factory. Projects with zenon are highly scalable.

zenon is ergonomic, both for the engineer and for the end user. The engineering environment is flexible and can be used for a wide range of applications. The principle of “setting parameters instead of programming” helps engineers to configure projects quickly and without errors. Complex functions for comprehensive projects are supplied out-of-the-box to create intuitive and robust applications. Users can thereby contribute to increased flexibility and efficiency with zenon.

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