Visualization platform for Merck (Sigma Aldrich Production GmbH)

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Starting situation

Production systems at Merck often have a life cycle of over 20 years. Updates are necessary if the hardware components in use are no longer available or the software no longer conforms to current requirements.

Objective of the project

The entire visualization platform was to be replaced on eight systems and simultaneously the range of functions was intended to be updated to the current level of other systems. The control systems were to remain unchanged.

The production systems for GMP products must function reliably during 24/7 operations. The control concept and functions were to be based on the latest generation of systems and provide the basis for future systems.

Technical implementation

The existing Mitsubishi control systems were already more than 20 years old and were connected to the new process control system using the latest “OPC UA” communication standard. The modern visualization platforms were created with the IMT Enterprise Application Framework, based on Microsoft .NET and WPF. The VMware virtualization environment was simultaneously upgraded and the back-up infrastructure was modernized.

Results

By using the IMT Enterprise Application Framework we were able to provide a modern and flexible visualization platform in a short time. Functions of the existing process control system, such as user administration, batch records, alarming, and audit trail, were fully integrated. The project was implemented and approved in accordance with current FDA guidance because the affected systems are used for the production of GMP-relevant products. Thanks to the use of desktop virtualization and independent control terminals in the EX-zone, long-term, reliable operations could be ensured.

«We consistently embrace new technologies and use widely adopted standards to remain compatible over the long term.»

Franz Egle, Development Team Manager, Senior Software Engineer

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