A More Measured Move to the Pharma Cloud

by , | Sep 30, 2021 | Control & Safety Systems, Digital Transformation, Industrial IoT, Life Sciences & Medical

Todd Walden

Author and Blogger

There is little doubt that the recent explosion in available cloud technologies has been a boon for manufacturing across a wide array of industries. Pharmaceutical manufacturers are no exception, and organizations are now carefully considering where leveraging cloud technology makes the most sense to improve business and operational success.

In his recent article, “Slow Rush to the Cloud” in Pharma Manufacturing, Emerson’s Bob Lenich extolls the virtues of cloud technologies while reminding readers that not every plant system is quite ready to move off-prem. Bob explains,

“As organizations consider which systems to move to the cloud and which to keep on-prem, they must consider how to protect both data and process control, while still making it easy to get critical data out of the system to enable enterprise-wide business decisions.”

Expanding access to affordable IIoT devices and edge and cloud technologies has recently shaken up the Purdue Model, the industrial control systems architecture reference model that engineers have relied on for years. Today,

“manufacturers rely on data sharing between different levels of the organization and need an architecture to support data flow. The best solutions are tiered—with a mix of local, cloud, and hybrid architectures—driven by the needs of plant systems and functions.”

Bob breaks the tiered system up into three layers:

  • On-prem Control: Because incidents at the control level have a very high impact on safety and production, components at this level should be hosted locally with a low-latency, high-speed, and fully redundant network backbone.
  • Hybrid Production: Pharma production systems relying on real-time production data should be hosted locally; however, many of these systems also need fast and intuitive connectivity to enterprise systems in the cloud. These solutions can be hosted locally on virtual machines to deliver reliable performance while still providing background cloud connectivity.
  • Cloud Enterprise Layer: Full-cloud implementation is best for enterprise systems that perform less time-sensitive tasks. These systems can typically withstand outages without adding risk to safety or production.

Many new technologies such as edge gateways are available to bridge the gap between cloud and on-prem systems. Organizations using these solutions can easily gather process data passing through the control layer and securely pass it to the cloud for better business decisions.

“With the wide range of cloud, hybrid, and edge solutions available, it is easy to find the right mix of hosting technologies to improve performance, throughput, and speed to market—while still protecting key elements of development and production such as quality, runtime, and security.”

To learn more about the three-tiered architecture for more successful cloud implementations and to see suggestions for some of the specific technologies in each layer, you can read the article in its entirety on pages 22-27. In addition, feel free to comment below on how you’re taking advantage of cloud connectivity in your facility.

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The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the authors. Content published here is not read or approved by Emerson before it is posted and does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Emerson.