Blog post by Tag McCormick, Project Manager at Superior Controls Tag McCormick

As we first discussed in an earlier blog post, Superior Controls is proud to be part of the team working with Acorda Therapeutics to bring an expanded manufacturing process online.

As Superior Controls’ involvement in the project is coming to a close, Project Manager Taggart McCormick describes the process components that Superior Controls automation engineers designed to bring Acorda Therapeutics’ manufacturing online.

Superior Controls implemented a control system for the expansion of the Acorda Therapeutics facility in Chelsea, Massachusetts. The control system is used to automate process and cleaning steps for the Feed and Spray Drying Systems, the clean-in-place (CIP) System, and the supporting Ethanol Supply, USP Purified Water Supply and Waste Systems using four PLC processors. The control system coordinates CIP recipes with a SQL database, and interfaces with various equipment vendor-supplied systems over Ethernet. The control system stores alarms, process data and user actions, and provides a user interface for the operation and visualization of automated sequences and equipment.

The system also consists of a number of equipment vendor-supplied control systems and an expansion of existing Controlled Area Monitoring System (CAMS). The control system provides Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA), recipe management, historical data collection, and reporting.

The following equipment is located in the process area:

  • Feed Train 1&2 Aqueous Formulation Tanks
  • Feed Train 1&2 Aqueous Blank Tanks
  • Feed Train 1&2 Solvent Formulation Tanks
  • Feed Train 1&2 Solvent Blank Tanks
  • Spray Dryer Drying Chamber
  • Spray Dryer Bag House

The following equipment is located in the utility areas:

  • Spray Dryer Heaters and Condensers
  • USP Purified Water Storage Tank, Heater, Distribution Pumps and Distribution Loop
  • Clean-In-Place Skid and Distribution Loop
  • Condensate Receiver Tank
  • Temperature Control Units
  • Autoclave
  • Parts Washer
  • Clean Out of Place Washer
  • Clean Steam Generator
  • Vacuum Pump and Receiver Tank

The following equipment is located in the tank farm:

  • Ethanol Storage Tank, Heater and Distribution Pump
  • Waste Storage Tank and Transfer Pump
  • Process Vent Carbon Adsorption Drums

The control system is a PLC- and SCADA-based system utilizing Allen-Bradley ControlLogix L73 and L75 processors with 1719 Ex Series intrinsically safe I/O, 1734 Point Series I/O, Festo solenoid manifolds, and Allen-Bradley PowerFlex VFDs. The I/O is distributed between 18 control panels which are interconnected with Ethernet/IP networks. The control system communicates over Ethernet to the various equipment vendor-supplied systems.

A separate Emergency Stop system monitors for Master, USP Purified Water, CIP, Spray Dryer and Tank Farm safety stop conditions and shuts equipment down via hard-wired interlock circuits.

The SCADA servers are a set of virtual machines hosted on redundant physical servers. The virtual machines consist of a Directory server, redundant HMI servers, redundant Data servers, a Terminal server, an Engineering Workstation server, a Historian server, an Engineering Development server, an Asset Management server and a View Only server.

The operator interface consists of nine fixed thin client workstations located throughout the process and utility areas, two dual thin client fixed workstations located in the control room, and two large monitor thin client displays located in the control room.

The following software packages were used as part of the control system:

  • SCADA – Rockwell Automation Software FactoryTalk View Site Edition
  • Historian – Rockwell Automation Software FactoryTalk Historian
  • Asset Management – Rockwell Automation Software FactoryTalk AssetCentre
  • Reporting and Trending – Rockwell Automation Software FactoryTalk VantagePoint
  • Alarm Notification – Exele Information Systems TopView
  • Thin Client Management – Rockwell Automation Software ThinManager
  • Alarm/Event Storage – SQL Server
  • Diagnostic Log Storage – SQL Server
  • CIP Recipe Storage – SQL Server

Tag reflects on the talented group of 12 automation engineers who have worked on the project. “From a personal standpoint, the team I’m working with here at Superior is one of the most talented groups of people that I’ve ever worked with in my career.  It’s been extremely rewarding being able to work with this group, and everyone is doing an amazing job.  We’ve got a really good combination of very experienced engineers, and we also have some new engineers who are really enthusiastic, eager to learn and apply themselves, and who are also extremely intelligent.  It’s been a great experience.”