Author: Martin Dittmer, Product Manager, Rockwell Automation
The move to an electronic batch record (EBR) system has been beneficial for most biopharma producers. By replacing paper-based workflows with computer-based workflows, they have reduced the risk of human error and sped up compliance processes.
But EBR systems can do far more than digitize paper-based workflows and recordkeeping.
When integrated into a scalable manufacturing execution system (MES), EBRs become more dynamic and can support your operations in new ways. This is especially true as you move your operations toward a Connected Enterprise, wherein your production and business systems are fully connected and can seamlessly share information.
When an MES with EBRs is brought into a connected ecosystem, it can begin to access enterprisewide information, deliver role-based instruction to workers, and provide exception-based reporting. This can help speed up your time-to-market, cut costs in multiple areas, and ease or even improve your demonstrated compliance.
An MES that offers modern and dynamic EBRs can help accelerate your time-to-market in multiple ways. In the words of one pharma producer: “An EBR solution is the GPS of manufacturing operations. It guides the user to the desired destination, finds the shortest trip, alerts one to dangers, and feeds them back in real time.”
Quality assurance (QA) teams can use an EBR’s review-by-exception functionality to spot deviations much faster than scanning every record line by line to find them. This can speed up documentation review times and reduce how long a product must sit in a warehouse waiting for release. It also can improve batch accuracy and consistency.
Real-time information access also creates opportunities to speed up processes throughout your production cycle. For example, gauge data can be automatically collected versus requiring a worker to physically walk to each gauge and record their readings. The ability to collect and review process information also allows you to identify and eliminate unnecessary tasks, such as redundant material checks.
And the time savings only become greater in a Connected Enterprise. The ability to connect your EBR system to mobile devices, for example, can give workers faster and more convenient access to information anywhere on the plant floor.
Time-consuming compliance activities and human errors drive up your production costs. But an MES with dynamic EBRs can help you bring these costs down.
First, it can uncover new efficiencies to help you optimize your total cost of production. The mere act of adopting EBRs for compliance purposes immediately eliminates the time and costs associated with storing physical documents. Dynamic EBRs can expand on those savings – for example, by using automated QA functions to reduce the cost of researching process deviations.
Second, an MES with EBRs can reduce the likelihood of human errors. The ability to create enforceable workflows, for example, helps ensure workers follow established processes and procedures. This can prevent production or recording errors that lead to wasted product or, even worse, product recalls.
Finally, faster turnover helps reduce inventory costs. Specifically, the ability to automate processes and review exceptions as they happen, rather than after the fact, reduces how long your product must wait for release.
Compliance is non-negotiable in biopharma. But there are ways you can minimize its burden on your business.
By integrating EBRs into an MES, you can automate manual documentation processes to reduce the likelihood of errors, such as miscalculations and incorrect records. The ability to integrate recipe and order information in a Connected Enterprise can help get the right information to workers as efficiently as possible. Prevalidated recipe building blocks can be used to speed up deployment times. And EBR features, such as role-based access, can help restrict production activities to authorized personnel.
Also, the same software used for your MES and EBRs can serve as the core for your serialization system. This can help you comply with anti-counterfeiting regulations requiring product traceability and authentication, and eliminate the hassle of creating, deploying and managing a standalone pharma-serialization system.
An MES combined with dynamic EBRs can have a substantial impact on your operations, but the systems themselves do not need to be difficult and expensive to maintain or upgrade.
An MES solution that aligns with industry standards, such as ISA88, will help simplify integration from the ERP system down to the automation layer. An open-content architecture can give you a highly configurable and easily upgradeable MES, allowing workers to make changes without impacting the system’s core.
So, with the full range of operations and integration benefits now in mind, ask yourself: Are you ready to take your EBR system beyond its basic paper-on-screen capability and realize its greater potential?