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Streamlining legacy machine integration

Legacy machine integration is one of the biggest challenges during Data Integrity remedial plans. COPA-DATA has introduced an advanced Automation Integration Layer (AIL) designed to seamlessly integrate legacy machines into automated workflows. Here, I explore how the AIL can support manufacturers on their journey to a more connected plant.

Driven by the complexity of integrating disparate machinery into digitalized workflows, COPA-DATA has created the Automation Integration Layer (AIL) for use in manufacturing operations. AIL uses a vertical data integration approach to incorporate the shop floor with IT infrastructure for a more efficient operation compliant with data regulations.


The central hub for enhanced connectivity

AIL functions as middleware, connecting existing machines and devices within pharmaceutical manufacturing operations. It offers several key functionalities to enable flexible and effective connection. It has wide connectivity, allowing it to be compatible with operational technology equipment (OT), including older automation controllers.

AIL also enables the contextualization of key data by collecting Critical Process Parameters (CPP) and providing aggregated data, such as minimum, maximum and average values at the end of batch phases.

The platform can also generate alarms to alert operators when parameters exceed predefined limits.

AIL allows operators to access and view their collected data, as well as distributing it to other IT systems when needed for more connected processes.


Simpler connection and integration

Integrating legacy machinery into the AIL requires a case-by-case evaluation. Real-time data acquisition is typically straightforward, while collecting historical data may be more challenging due to variations between machines. However, COPA-DATA uses a modular approach with Smart Object components in its software platform, zenon, which allows for the creation of machine integration objects that can be reused for similar machines, streamlining the integration process.

AIL is based on the zenon software platform, enabling seamless integration with other automation platforms, including modular production with MTP, the well-established Werum PAS-X, and the zenon Historian 360 for comprehensive data storage and contextualized analytics.

By leveraging the functionalities of zenon, manufacturers can access various modules, such as historian, zenon logic for data aggregation and contextualization, recipe management, alarm and audit trail acquisition, and communication interfaces like Werum PAS-X, SAP, and Aspentech, among others. This integration provides significant benefits for plant operations, as it reduces the implementation effort by utilizing ready-to-use functions within a configurable manufacturing automation software platform.


Bridging data gaps

The AIL ensures data integrity compliance across all equipment and machinery, including legacy systems. It serves to bridge the data integrity gap in existing machines by employing an integration strategy tailored to each machine's capabilities. Factors such as the availability of an audit trail, user management capabilities, and the ability to acquire critical process parameters (CPPs) enrich the integration approach. By carefully evaluating these aspects, manufacturers determine the best integration approach to meet data integrity requirements and overcome any existing gaps.

In terms of product development and validation processes, AIL is a configurable software platform compliant with GAMP5 CAT.4 guidelines, minimizing the need for extensive scripting and reducing the overall validation effort. Through the platform's standard features, manufacturers can rely on a widely used product that simplifies product development and validation processes. This streamlined approach enhances efficiency and accelerates time-to-market for new products.

By implementing the AIL, manufacturers gain access to valuable data that can drive improvements in various aspects of manufacturing processes. The acquired data enables manufacturers to consider additional factors such as sustainability, efficiency, and waste management. With the ability to analyze and utilize data, manufacturers can optimize operations, enhance throughput, reduce waste and achieve overall process efficiency.

By adopting a vertical data integration approach, the AIL facilitates efficient operations while ensuring compliance with data regulations. With COPA-DATA’s AIL, manufacturers can overcome the complexities associated with legacy machinery and work towards a smarter, more connected plant through data-driven decision-making and streamlined processes.


Find out more here.