Leveraging predictive data to drive value and maximize manufacturing uptime.
Manufacturers in the pharmaceutical industry are facing numerous operational challenges as they seek to increase manufacturing capacity to meet growing demand for their products. Water is often a key component of the manufacturing process and having water systems that reliably deliver quality water to meet manufacturing needs is a high priority.
Improvements in digital technology have enabled manufacturers to access critical operational data in order to monitor water quality and system performance. However, legacy water monitoring systems are often limited to local alarms and emergency response. In these scenarios, the water quality problem has already occurred, impacting production uptime.
Evoqua Water Technologies is changing the paradigm by leveraging Artificial Intelligence (AI) to detect process anomalies long before an alarm is set off. This proactive solution can significantly improve water production uptime and operational efficiency by solving issues before they occur. The following case study illustrates some specific examples where Evoqua’s technology was applied at a medical device manufacturing facility.
The Challenge: Maintaining water quality with growing production demand
A leading multinational medical device manufacturer needed a solution for ensuring water quality while increasing capacity at their plant. With a shortage of employees possessing water system expertise, the company found it difficult to maintain uptime of their USP purified water system and to control operating costs. The company reached out to the water experts at Evoqua for help.
The Solution: Sophis™ Digital Services
Evoqua partnered with the manufacturer to implement Sophis™ Digital Services. Sophis Digital Services captures critical water quality and operational data from the manufacturing line, such as feedwater and product conductivity, membrane pressure, and permeate flow. The data is analyzed remotely by an Evoqua Subject Matter Expert (SME) to ensure the factory water system is maintaining optimal performance. At the same time, continuous analysis is conducted using a variety of proprietary AI models that were developed to identify and resolve problems from start to finish.
When a process anomaly is detected, such as a reverse osmosis permeate conductivity trend that could impact production, the AI platform automatically flags the issue. An Evoqua engineer evaluates the anomaly, determines the root cause, and provides a recommended course of action to the local Evoqua service branch. All of this happens before an alarm setpoint is triggered, addressing a water quality issue before it occurs.
The Result: Water system optimization
Once Sophis Digital Services was implemented at the manufacturing site, Evoqua was able to provide several recommended actions to optimize water production and ensure that water performance goals were met.
1) Eliminating false alarms
The manufacturer had an alarm system in place to monitor continuous electrodeionization (CEDI) concentrate, which was triggered by low water flow. However, the alarm would sound even when the water system was working correctly, diverting plant resources to investigate and resolve the issue.
Evoqua analyzed the water flow data and identified that the parameters triggering the alarms were incorrect and did not correlate to system operations. The CEDI alarm operating set points were adjusted, and the false alarms were eliminated, saving the plant time and money.
Numerous false alarms were also found to be related to ozone concentration levels (see Figure 1 below). A physical review of check valves for proper bleed and heating up of the slip stream eliminated these alarms.
2) Efficiently upgrading water capacity
The medical device manufacturer was looking to increase water capacity and was considering the purchase of a new process water generation system. Sophis™ Digital Services provided a comprehensive analysis of the manufacturers water usage and determined that an additional water storage tank would provide the necessary capacity. This eliminated the need to spend over $1M on a new process water system and provided a lower cost solution to upgrade water capacity.
3) Improving ozone and tank control
With Sophis Digital Services, Evoqua also identified an issue with the manufacturer’s water tank oscillations and erratic ozone control. Low tank dips were triggering an alarm that shut down water production and thus impacted the whole manufacturing line. Evoqua recommended installing tighter tank control set points and utilizing recirculation mode during high production to avoid startup times that affected tank oscillations. Water production was maintained while the issue was being resolved to prevent production shutdown.
The implementation of a digital intelligence program, Sophis™ Digital Services, significantly improved operational efficiency and performance for a leading multinational medical device manufacturer. The digital analytics and SME support helped the manufacturing plant to optimize their water system and maintain water quality as the manufacturer increased device production to meet market demand.
About the Author
Karen Meidlinger, PhD, is the Director of Digital Innovation at Evoqua Water Technologies.