Article | November 22, 2023

Using OEE To Improve Batch Processing In Pharmaceutical Manufacturing

By Steve Zarichniak, Honeywell Technical Solutions Consultant

Capsule Production Line GettyImages-1138523291

Pharmaceutical manufacturers face significant challenges in today's competitive economy, striving to increase availability, enhance performance, and improve product quality. The need to optimize batch processing adds an additional layer of complexity, presenting unique challenges not found in other manufacturing processes. Key performance indicators (KPIs), such as Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE), offer an effective strategy to not only address these issues but also identify and close productivity gaps in batch processes.

Operator efficiency is crucial in this context, as operators oversee multiple stations and are responsible for ensuring the smooth progression of complex production lines in this highly regulated, batch-oriented sector. Through all of these functions, uninterrupted sequences and processes are the ultimate goal. Any deviation from standard operating procedures (SOP) in this industry, where proof of consistency is critical, can jeopardize the entire process as well as the delivery and use of the product.

In many cases today, operators lack a comprehensive view of past, present, and future batch procedures, hindering their ability to identify the root cause of variations or deviations. This can lead to process inefficiencies, increased operator stress, and a potential impact on the quality of the final product. To address these inefficiencies, companies can leverage OEE data as a foundational element for dashboards, providing operators with critical information. Further enhancements can be achieved by incorporating automation, visualization, simulations, mobility, and data analytics, to improve batch process efficiency.

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