By Craig Correia
Major Trends in Processing and Packaging Automation
There is a major trend underway to develop flexible plants capable of producing multiple products in smaller batches, rather than building a plant based on a single blockbuster drug. The need for modularity and flexibility changes the way customers use automation, and also the solutions Festo must develop for the market. An example of this trend is the growth in the single-use bioreactor market. A bioreactor is a stainless-steel vessel in which the chemical reaction occurs--the heart of a biological manufacturing plant. Traditionally, large biotech companies would build bioreactors as large as 20,000 liters dedicated to a single product. As an alternative, single-use reactors are becoming more prevalent today because their primary benefit of fast changeover makes the plant more flexible. Whether in drug development phase or a multi-drug manufacturing plant, a single-use reactor allows the plant to change drugs in hours or days, instead of weeks. This trend impacts everything around the company's floor plan. It might start around the reactor but continues all the way through final packaging. This change can put more demand on packaging (OEMs) in terms of the end-user specification demands. Festo helps OEMs meet these requirements by offering highly configurable products, as well as providing custom-built controls.