October 9, 2012

Pfizer Creates Virtual Lab Across Two Sites with BioNet DeltaV

As the older control system in its bioprocess R&D labs became obsolete, Pfizer sought a replacement in its quest to create the lab of the future. The new system would be used to control bioreactors in the company’s labs in St. Louis, Mo. and Andover, Mass.

“We wanted to streamline data acquisition and introduce auto sampling for integrated off-line and in-line process analytics,” said Geetanjali Sondhi, a scientist with BioTherapeutics Pharmaceutical Sciences, Bioprocess R&D at Pfizer. “We also wanted to do remote control of the reactors from home and share data across sites. Plus, we wanted the new control system to be OPC compatible.”

After gathering responses from the stakeholder groups involved in the process, Pfizer was able to narrow its search for a new control system down to five vendors. The vendors gave Pfizer loaner units to test for three months at its St Louis site. Testing involved a single experiment design to test hardware and software looking at single cell line cultivation in a variety of tests, including temperature and pH control. Pfizer’s existing control system ran as a control unit for the tests.

BioNet DeltaV ranked highest of the five systems tested in terms of performance. “But we also considered the maturity of the technologies tested, flexibility, remote control capability, and company stability,” said Sondhi.

Now being phased in at the two Pfizer sites over a five-year timeline, BioNet DeltaV will be used to control more than 100 bioreactors by 2013.

“With the BioNet DeltaV system now nearly in place across both sites, we have advanced PID control and loop tuning capabilities; precise control and measurement of gas and mixed-gas delivery; and can save control strategy and experiment templates for re-use and rapid experiment setup,” said Sondhi. “DeltaV platform-based process development lab automation delivers unmatched ROI and productivity gains. We now have a virtual lab running across two sites 1,000 miles apart.”

Pfizer worked with Broadly James (a manufacturer of sensors and bioreactors) to customize its implementation of the DeltaV system to include glucose feedback control, automatic pH standardization, data strategy/storage, and advanced process control for high-end pH control, control of variable speed pumps and zone control.

Sondhi noted that using the DeltaV system with auto-sampling has “changed how our scientists do day-to-day activities. They don't have to spend time with hardware changes or timing parameter setpoint changes. This means that they can spend more time on data analysis and process development.”