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Discover Digital Excellence

Advancing toward Pharma Production 4.0

Pharmaceutical production is about to complete its next major advance. Today digital tools already enable manufacturers to reduce downtime, boost the productivity of their machines and increase flexibility. The next phase of this development involves the intelligent networking of machines, data and knowledge. Two factors are decisive here: open technical systems and the ability of all actors to cooperate with one another. Excellence United is now taking the offensive on Pharma Production 4.0 with solutions that aim to meet these requirements. The technical basis for this is a joint development, the IoT Hub.

Since the alliance was founded in 2011, the Excellence United partners have advanced various joint projects. Among other things, this involves close cooperation in business operations with service centers all over the world and a jointly managed Service Portal. The next step now is the networking of components, machines and lines.

At ACHEMA 2018, Excellence United was presenting fully integrated, digitized best-in-class solutions under the motto “Discover Digital Excellence”. At their core is the Excellence United IoT Hub, a modern platform for the software development and system integration of entire pharma production lines. Excellence United was showing the architecture of the IoT Hub and selected applications for the first time on its joint exhibition space.

Excellence United IoT Hub

Core component for system integration

The Excellence United IoT Hub is an open and modular platform for software development and system integration. The IoT Hub enables users to network together not only the machines of Excellence United partners, but also those of third-party manufacturers. The IoT Hub is conceived as a non-hierarchical middle layer and uses standardized interfaces, including OPC UA, which is seen in the industry as the standard data communication protocol.

IoT Hub 2

In practice, this means that sensors, machines, peripherals and programs can be directly connected with the platform independently of the system level. Instead of having to develop an interface with a higher system (e.g. MES, ERP) for every individual machine, one interface in the IoT Hub is sufficient to network the systems and link them to business processes.

Data transfer between the machines and with the end user takes place over secure connections – either on the spot at the customer’s site or using the infrastructure of the Excellence United. Machine networks that cannot be completely secured are decoupled from applications. This means that it is impossible to gain access to all the data through the machine interfaces.

The IoT Hub is scalable as result of its open architecture and modular structure. Users can deploy it efficiently not only on individual machines, but also on larger systems; it can also be expanded with new interfaces and apps that are developed especially or jointly with customers.

IoT Hub EN

Operations 4.0

The entire life cycle at a glance

Digitalization also opens up new opportunities in the services sector. One of our goals is comprehensive user support through all phases of the machine life cycle.

Condition Monitoring

Better Decision-Making in Real Time

One key area of the digital services offered by Excellence United is Condition Monitoring – in other words, the continuous record of information generated by the machine. Users gain permanent access to the machine and process parameters of all the equipment in a line or an entire production facility through the IoT Hub.

Among other things, the system makes it possible to assess and analyze current and past data and compare different components and machines. These form the basis for the real-time optimization of production efficiency. The system increases process reliability during the operation of a continuous production line because it becomes clear early on which components need to be maintained or replaced.

Preventive Maintenance

Information Rather Than Intuition

Reliable information about the durability of critical production components is often unavailable. Maintenance is frequently not carried out on the basis of real data, but individual estimates. Among other things, this leads to unplanned machine downtimes as a result of component failures or the premature replacement of parts that have not yet reached their wear limit.

With the IoT Hub Maintenance Center, users can document the wear of individual parts, create an overview of all planned maintenance activities and plan future measures in relation to the production schedule. This increases process reliability, reduces downtime to a minimum and simultaneously forms the basis for the low-cost, demand-oriented storage of spare parts.

Service Portal

Swift help from afar

The Excellence United Service Portal plays a double role in combination with the IoT Hub. On the one hand, the IoT Hub uses the portal’s existing architecture as a secure infrastructure for data transmission. This is only the case, however, if customers agree to it. On the other hand, customers can also use the Service Portal separately.

However, the combination of both solutions offers many advantages. Over 600 customers are now already connected to the Service Portal. Users can use it around the clock to reach expert service engineers from the respective machine manufacturer. A live video signal can also be sent via the portal’s Conference Center. This can help overcome not only software problems, but also mechanical breakdowns and process errors.

Experience has shown that almost 80% of all service requests can be immediately resolved in this way. As a rule, the remaining requests depend on how fast the necessary spare parts are available. Users benefit from much simpler and faster processes and lower costs. A link with the IoT Hub makes it possible to exchange all data between the different applications and thereby optimize processes even further.

Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality – New Dimensions of Service and Training

Excellence United’s range of VR- and AR-based solutions is opening entirely new dimensions for users.

Innovative hardware like VR Powerwall and Microsoft Hololens enables pharmaceutical manufacturers to offer their operating personnel targeted training before the installation of new machines. Later, during operation, these systems can provide support in quickly identifying and eliminating faults or in carrying out routine tasks like format changes.

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Learn more about the products and topics of Excellence United partners

Read more about the digital solutions and services offered by Excellence United partners in the we connect magazine.

Do you have any questions?

We look forward to hearing from you and will be happy to answer your questions.

Maren Peter
Business Coordinator Excellence United
phone: +49 7191 501-5081