GE Healthcare and Rockwell Automation are collaborating on a next-generation bioprocess automation platform to help biopharmaceutical companies create flexible and scalable facilities of the future, with a focus on streamlined production technologies and adaptable manufacturing environments. GE Healthcare also joined the Rockwell Automation PartnerNetwork Program as an OEM Partner to help drive a best-in-class distributed control system offering.

“As GE Healthcare and the healthcare ecosystem move toward precision health, flexible and scalable solutions are critical for companies to efficiently manufacture smaller batches of tailored medicines,” explained Kevin Seaver, executive general manager, bioprocess automation and digital, GE Healthcare. ”Our collaboration with Rockwell Automation is an integral part of our strategy to confirm we deliver innovative solutions that meet the needs of the biopharma 4.0 era.”

“Our collaboration with GE Healthcare will help make bioprocessing operations more agile. The facility of the future reimagines what’s possible in production of biopharmaceuticals,” added Fran Wlodarczyk, senior vice president, architecture and software, Rockwell Automation. “It uses connectivity, information, and modular equipment to create smaller-scale, more efficient operations. As GE Healthcare becomes a member of our PartnerNetwork program, our joint work will help GE Healthcare bring the Connected Enterprise to life, so they can meet demands for more targeted drugs and get products to market faster.”

Greater Efficiency

According to GE Healthcare and Rockwell Automation officials, the collaboration can help companies gain greater efficiency with FlexFactory™ single-use equipment integrated with Figurate™ bioprocess automation that improves reproducibility, repeatability, and compliance, digitize batch files and processes to reduce review times by weeks and even achieve real-time reviews, and deliver instructions to workers with augmented reality to improve batch execution, operations, equipment setup and training.

During the recent Interphex meeting in New York City Mike Brimmer, solution architect at Rockwell Automation, chose an IPad to visualize data collected from a Rockwell Automation controller on a GE Healthcare bioreactor.

“The goal is to improve operators’ situational awareness as well as their ability to make better data-driven decisions,” said Brimmer, who proceeded to point the iPad screen at the bioreactor and clearly displayed several current bioreactor conditions, e.g., pH, dissolved oxygen, carbon dioxide (see photo).

“The data can be viewed in real time or historically as all the information is captured and goes into a record,” he continued. “This gives you the advantage of not having to gown up to go into a clean room to take bioreactor values. You can look through the clean room window with your iPad to see what’s going on in the bioreactor.”

Automation improves operational efficiency with reduced production risk and streamlines workflows resulting in faster times to market, said Kevin Seaver. He pointed out that the collaboration leverages the combined expertise in single-use bioprocessing with deep automation and IT knowledge to turn data insights into productive outcomes.

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