New MES and automation for Aspirin production

Bayer opened its production site in Bitterfeld-Wolfen, Germany, in 1994. At the time, the facility was one of the most highly automated in the world. The tradition continues, as the level of automation there has recently become even better with Opcenter Execution Pharma and Simatic Batch.

Siemens has been on hand to assist Bayer in Bitterfeld right from the start. But after being in operation for close to 30 years, knowledge of the facility is steadily being lost as a result of personnel changes. That carries with it a growing risk that technical problems could result in production outages. In addition, the existing system landscape consisted of individual systems, which made it impossible to migrate. That’s why Bayer Bitterfeld wanted to introduce a new manufacturing execution system (MES) that would ensure that the location remains competitive over the long term.

Siemens impresses with its complete solution 

Siemens had an excellent solution to offer for Bayer’s new system: The combination of Opcenter Execution Pharma and Simatic Batch integrated into the Simatic PCS 7 process control system. Bayer Bitterfeld isn’t just acquiring a state-of-the-art MES, it’s also getting an efficient automation solution (DCS) at the same time.


The solution models the entire process flow at the DCS level, where event-based MES workflows can be triggered when needed. Each individual process is modeled as a multi-level library function or type. This means that the customer can generate each new sub-process right in the batch recipe using the library functions and implement any necessary changes in the automation system much more quickly and easily: Another benefit of the complete solution is that it’s easier to handle: Both systems are controlled via the same user interface.

Successful migration with systems running

One condition for the system migration at Bayer Bitterfeld was that there could be no downtime during the project and no breaks in production. That’s why the new system was set up step by step while production continued. The new and old MES operated in parallel for a period of time, almost like having two hearts in a single body. That meant, for example, that some packaging lines were running on the new system while others still used the old one. It was therefore important for both MES systems to be able to access the same information – for example, about resources like containers of raw materials to be packed.


The system migration was accompanied by a change from paper-based to paperless documentation. Dr. Andrea Heym, head of Formulation at Bayer Bitterfeld, comments: “When Siemens was implementing the system – with all its admittedly complex processes – in our Formulation department, I had the feeling that my team was very uncomfortable about switching over to a new MES.” Siemens therefore supported the implementation of the system with Hypercare and a 24/7 project-based standby arrangement. This meant that employees in production could request help operating the system from the manufacturer at any time, day or night.

Project adds a new chapter to an old partnership

Andrea Heym is very impressed with the new system now: “Production processes are running at least as fast as before.” Introducing the system was also an excellent project for Siemens. “It wasn’t just any ordinary project,” explains Michael Berger, project manager at Siemens. “We accepted the challenges and we’re proud of the result. We have a system that’s viable for the future and a happy customer.”


Bayer and Siemens are now launching a long-term partnership and entering into a lifecycle service agreement. It’s a win-win situation for both companies: While Bayer Bitterfeld benefits from long-term service, Siemens can count on having Bayer as part of its customer base for the long term.


July 2022

(Photos: Bayer Bitterfeld)

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