Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Documentor 2.0 Goes Global – SharePoint Gets an Upgrade

Talk about the power of the web! We got our first international order for our Documentor 2.0 package just the other day. We worked jointly with Emerson in Europe and beefed up the capacity of Documentor to meet their customer’s needs.

Who knew a single Procedure could have over 3000 recipe parameters? So keep those cards and letters coming (actually, any and all opportunities for DeltaV Phase and Recipe documentation). Check out the Documentor 2.0 product datasheet at

We were cutting edge (well, at least I think we were) when we started using SharePoint for our project collaboration sites. And while these sites have been highly successful and well appreciated by our customers, we’ve been using the same underlying platform (WSS 2.0) for 4 years now.

So I’m pleased to say that we’ve taken the first step in upgrading one of our servers to Windows SharePoint 3.0. Even though Microsoft has made SharePoint Designer (the replacement for Frontpage) available free of charge, some of the customizations I’ve been able to do in the past just aren’t possible with the new SharePoint version.

But that’s not to say there aren’t some really cool features – a Gantt chart view is available, built in to the Task list. The available 3rd party web parts is quite impressive, many available free of charge. And lots of them use Microsoft’s Silverlight technology, including some impressive charting web parts for dashboard components.

Check out, Microsoft’s open source project hosting site.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Batch Events and 10.3

We’ve just finished successfully upgrading our DeltaV batch demo system to version 10.3, so I thought I’d share my hands-on experiences with some of the new and enhanced features.

So one of the first one’s I was excited about was the ability of the batch executive to have “significant batch events” flow to the event chronicle. And while I’m sure OSI is happy about this one, everyone should be.

Let’s be clear as to what “significant batch events” are – it’s NOT everything that’s currently in the batch journal, but all events associated with creating, starting, ending, and unloading of procedures, unit procedures, and operations get to the event chronicle.

Note in the screenshot below how the batch ID is displayed – you get both the ID entered by the operator and the internal ID DeltaV uses for tracking in the historian:

Now, silly me, I thought that once I upgraded to 10.3, I’d just run a batch and BAM, the data would be in the event chronicle. Well, I should have known better – you have to enable it. Where you might ask? About the last place I’d look, but now that I’ve found it, maybe I’ll save you some time.

Launch the Batch Application manager, and on the Batch Executive tab, select the Advanced tab, then select the Configuration Settings tab – here you’ll find all sorts of BE trivia selections. Scroll down to the Enable Alarm and Events Journaling, and double click it:

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

PAT, QbD, and the ISA

The Process Analytical Technology (PAT) guidance from the FDA has been out for several years now. And the concepts of Quality by Design (QbD) are certainly nothing new. Interestingly, some of the references associated with the rollout of PAT had to do with the marked differences in fundamental process understanding between the pharma/biotech world and the rest of manufacturing.

I’ve taken a keen interest in all things PAT related (I’ve written about this before), because I truly believe we folks in the automation industry can provide the technological muscle, hard and soft, for the pharma and biotech industries.

So I was really pleased by the cover story of the March issue of InTech magazine from the ISA titled “If you build it in …”

It brought into the mainstream of process control and automation the challenges and potential rewards of PAT in providing better process understanding. This understanding translates into increased yields, shorter production cycles, less “bad batches”, and ultimately, lower manufacturing costs.

And I guess there’s somewhat of the proud grandfather complex in me (thanks, Larry Wolfe), but checkout the section in the article labeled “Real-time quality by design” and Talecris Biotherapeutics in Clayton, NC. The water system monitoring and control described was our first DeltaV installation at Talecris and has been one of early PAT wins by any company in the industry. While some of the innovative principles have moved on (Joydeep Ganguly is now at Biogen Idec and Gerrit Vogel is back in the Bayer family), Phil Culberson continues to drive innovation at Talecris as they expand the PAT and QbD concepts, leveraged by their use of DeltaV.