Creating tomorrow’s bioprocessing lines that run efficiently and reproducibly because of remote control is underway today. “You’re looking at an evolution that could take 10 to 15 years,” said Darren Verlenden, head of bioprocessing at MilliporeSigma. “It will take the convergence of multiple disciplines.” Scientists and engineers, though, are already working on many of the pieces.

Verlenden and his colleagues envision this concept as a facility of the future—a tomorrow-land place of bioprocessing. They’ve been working on this idea for almost a decade, and, Verlenden said, “It won’t happen overnight.”

To make everything on a bioprocessing line—from development and materials through production to testing and analytics—run as a digitally managed system, all of the platforms must be integrated and controlled with automation and software. When asked about the biggest challenge in getting to the facility of the future, Verlenden said that it’s the software.

To keep it all in context, Verlenden and his colleagues think of the 4 Cs: control, connect, collect, and collaborate. The facility of tomorrow must include control of the operation of all units, which must be connected to “try to start to orchestrate the individual operations together,” Verlenden explained. Also, collecting data provides the needed insights to make decisions on the bioprocessing line. Plus, cloud-based collaboration will be involved across essentially all features of this facility. “There are lots of bits and pieces,” Verlenden said, “and we’re making sure we can do this seamlessly.”

To make an effective facility of the future, it takes evolution to get there and ongoing adaptation to survive. Consequently, Verlenden added, “We’re trying to build an ecosystem of products based on life science and pharmaceutical applications, and less about customized installations.” Only then can a remotely operated and controlled bioprocessing line keep up with the changing demands of producing biopharmaceuticals.

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