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Case Study – Delivering a hybrid API factory of the future, set for batch or continuous manufacturing

Posted on August 11, 2020 by Helena Graham

In this case study, we see how a fully automated, greenfield, API nutraceutical, ‘factory of the future’ was set up to run as a hybrid of either batch or continuous manufacturing. During this project Zenith Technologies delivered a factory of the future design with reduced production time, capital costs, improved cycle time and reduced energy costs.


factory of the futureThe main goal for this customer was to build a greenfield, API nutraceutical production facility to the highest standards and with a ‘factory of the future’ design. The facility was intended to be built and qualified to meet FDA regulatory requirements, as well as the local statutory authorities.

The production facility is classed as a hazardous environment, with Zone-2 area classification. During production, the nutraceutical product is highly viscus along with solvent addition (like MDC) and the final product produced is in the form of granules.

This project aimed to build a facility flexible enough to use a mixture of batch and continuous production technologies. To achieve this the software engineering design had to be done with a modular approach to support batch and continuous operations. It would also be the first production facility intended to operate in a fully automatic mode – prior to this all of the client’s facilities operated manually.

This new ‘Factory of the Future’ was designed to reduce production time, reduce capital costs, improve cycle times and reduce energy consumption.

The challenge: creating a factory of the future facility that was flexible enough to run batch or continuously

Implementing a complex facility of this nature brings with it, many challenges. This was the first fully automated factory for the client, with ambitious expectations and goals. The client needed help with Instrumentation, Valves and DCS selection. There were high initial costs, combined with long lead delivery times.

This facility had chosen specialised, wide-ranging equipment, alongside stringent control strategies. It also included integration of third-party equipment from different automation manufacturers. The project equipment consisted of reactor vessel, emulsification, ATFE, holding vessel, spray congealing vessel, silo vessels, vacuum system, and operation through the DCS. As well as third party systems including:  Ethernet CIP, PTS and over Modbus FBD, PUW, De humidifier, Chiller, and ABB ACS 560 series VFD.

This project needed to have flexibility built in from design and be adaptable to sustain a mixture of batch and continuous processes. This meant the potential for complex equipment designs and controls which required robust operations.

The solution: turnkey project execution for automation and instrumentation

Zenith Technologies, a Cognizant Company worked as part of the engineering consultancy team to deliver turnkey project execution for the automation and instrumentation, from conceptual engineering for instrumentation and automation for development. We were the largest engineering team during the design, construction and testing phases.

As the main systems integrator we designed and implemented Rockwell Automation’s PlantPAx DCS as the main automation platform for this project.  We deployed state of the art engineering practices, whilst meeting global standards such as: ISA S88 for recipe management.

We ensured the modularity of the programming was maintained, whilst utilising the latest technologies in support a hybrid approach of both batch and continuous manufacturing. The graphics were developed with consideration to operator effectiveness as per ISA 101. We integrated AC drives & some other devices on Modbus communications, automated process operation and CIP of all the equipment. We selected the best instruments and valves suitable for the process and area classification (intrinsically safe) whilst complying to all hygiene factors required for food grade applications.

The software engineering included FAT, SFAT, installation and commissioning of the control system and computer system validation.

Outcome: the next generation of manufacturing excellence in API  

Working in close collaboration with Zenith, the company successfully opened the new facility and was able to achieve higher levels of productivity, agility and flexibility. The hybrid nature of this facility means the production cycle times are reduced, and there is high equipment occupancy. It also minimises time between two different production campaigns.

Project delivery highlights:

  • One stop solution with one-point responsibility from consultancy to the commissioning of the fully automated plant
  • Ease of operation and monitoring from a central location
  • Data logging at centralised location
  • Online diagnosis for corrective actions and maintenance
  • Flexibility to use either batch or continuous manufacturing
  • Overall process cycle time reductions
  • Equipment occupancy and availability of next batch
  • Non exposure of the hazardous area to operator w.r.t. human safety
  • Non contamination prevention to increase productivity and quality improvements
  • This project was delivered on budget and within the project timescales

At a glance:

Brief Challenges Solution Results
  • Company: API Nutraceutical
  • Based in Pune, India
  • Factory of the future design
  • Greenfield production facility to be built to highest standards
  • Needed to meet FDA and local standards
  • Critical process operations with fine controls along with instrumentation
  • The project is aimed to build a facility flexible enough to use a mixture of batch or continuous production technologies
  • Consultancy services
  • Delivering a turnkey project execution for the automation and instrumentation
  • Designed and implemented DCS
  • Meeting global standards such as ISA S88
  • Ensured modularity of the programming
  • Graphics development, selection of instrumentation and values
  • FAT, SAT, installation and commissioning & CSV
  • Higher level of production, agility and flexibility
  • Ease of troubleshooting and maintenance
  • Manpower optimisation and effective utilisation
  • Flexible to use either batch or continuous  manufacturing
  • Cycle times reduced
  • Project delivered on time

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