Information Technology

Manufacturing Culture

Life sciences company leaders need to put the right people, processes, and technologies in place to create evolutionary cultures. Such cultures would embrace advanced manufacturing process intelligence and reap related business benefits. Since the late 1990s, my software company has helped biomanufacturers improve their process understanding. In that time, we’ve seen regulatory drivers such as quality by design (QbD) and process analytical technology (PAT) guidances call for improved manufacturing process performance through better process understanding and optimization. We define process…

A Framework for Process Knowledge Management

    Process development and manufacturing for biopharmaceuticals are often disjointed activities. Disconnects between groups within an organization can be aggravated by a lack of common terminology and poor data-management practices. Implementing a simple data model based on the ISA-88 standard for batch control can help companies capture process and facility data throughout their product life cycle (1). The first half of this two-part article illustrates how translating a process description to a structured electronic format could transform the bioprocessing…

Enhancing Data Quality with a Partly Controllable System at Shake Flask Scale

    In bioprocess development, small-scale systems are used to identify appropriate cell lines, media, and feeds before applying more expensive, controlled cultivation systems at larger scales. Process development relies on data generated in such uncontrolled small-scale cultivation systems, so comparability is an issue. Shake flasks are commonly used for small-scale culture of mammalian suspensions. Incubators provide a suitable environment with carbon dioxide (CO2) supply and humidity control and ensure sufficient oxygen transfer and homogenization of cell suspension by appropriate…

Informatics Technologies in an Evolving R&D Landscape

    Over the years, bioprocessing companies have leveraged a host of information technology (IT) to help them bring innovative new therapies to market. As the needs of a research and development (R&D) enterprise evolve, however, are such systems and applications a help or a hindrance? On one hand, the increasing sophistication of IT solutions — such as those designed to help users create advanced molecular models or track thousands of compounds through the discovery process — have enabled new…

Approaches to Debottlenecking and Process Optimization

    Two major challenges associated with optimizing biomanufacturing operations remain unresolved. The first is variability: how to understand and improve manufacturing with significant variation in process times throughout all unit operations. The second is complexity: modern biomanufacturing facilities are complex and interconnected, with piping segments, transfer panels, and valve arrays, as well as water for injection (WFI) and other shared resource constraints. That complexity is becoming even greater with the need for process standardization and processing of higher (and…

Manufacturing Process Automation

When you think of futuristic manufacturing facilities and processes, robots might come to mind in a science fiction setting where humans are absent and production lines are directed by computerized drones that perform tasks we can’t even imagine today. As the pace of technology shuttles us swiftly into the real future, however, life-science manufacturers need to pause to examine the purpose of automation and how we can best steer its course. In bioprocess manufacturing and other industries, technology is growing…

Intellectual Property Protection in the Digital Age

    For most biotechnology and biopharmaceutical organizations, “business as usual” means a perpetual race to the finish line: Conceive a new invention, reduce it to practice, attain patent protection, repeat ad infinitum. But sometimes, the very technologies scientists use to expedite that chain of events (e.g., electronic laboratory notebooks and cloud-based laboratory data sharing) create security and authenticity holes. In essence, the more agile and sophisticated our work flow systems become, the more difficult it becomes to guarantee the…

Practical Considerations for DoE Implementation in Quality By Design

    It is generally accepted that quality cannot be tested or inspected into a finished product, but rather that quality, safety, and effectiveness must be “designed” and built into a product and its manufacturing process. To encourage new initiatives and provide guidance to pharmaceutical process developers, the International Conference on Harmonisation of Technical Requirements for Registration of Pharmaceuticals for Human Use introduced the quality by design (QbD) concept. ICH-Q8 defines it as “a systematic approach to development that begins…

A Smarter Approach to Biomanufacturing

    Mergers and acquisitions have long been a staple of the life sciences industry — a reality that has resulted in disparate information technology (IT) environments within and across often far-flung enterprises. The situation is particularly prevalent in manufacturing operations because a pharmaceutical or biotechnology organization may run different management systems in nearly every separate facility (especially when contract manufacturers are involved). These “siloed” information environments are hindering efforts to evaluate and improve quality and operational efficiency at a…

Biopharmaceutical Information Infrastructure 2.0

    This two-part article explores related tools and technologies that biopharmaceutical companies can leverage to build an efficient mechanism for capturing and delivering valuable information. In BioProcess International’s December 2009 issue, part 1 of the series focused on infrastructure selection and how hardware, software, and information systems form a kind of ecosystem (1). Simplicity, sustainability, and scalability can be achieved only when that trio is designed holistically. Part 1 further explored structured data capture and analysis tools, whereas this…