Pharma: China relies on digital animal vaccine production

China has a rich history in the field of vaccines: The first inoculations are thought to have been carried out in the Middle Kingdom as early as 200 BC. Jinyu Bio-technology is now setting a milestone as the first to digitalize animal vaccine production in China. Welcome to a new era of intelligent manufacturing.

Vaccines are undoubtedly one of the most important revolutions in human and animal health. The first human vaccine in modern times targeted smallpox and was created in the 1790s; animal vaccines followed in the 1870s. However, the practice of inoculation is thought to be much older: Historians have found evidence that the Chinese inoculated people against smallpox as early as 200 BC. By today’s standards, the procedure was rudimentary: smallpox scabs were ground up and blown into the nostrils or scratched into the skin.

 

The production of vaccines has come a long way. Nowadays, the process consists of several different steps, from generating an antigen, to isolation of the antigen from the growth medium, to purification, addition of an adjuvant, and packaging. Relying on manual operations alone is inefficient, unstable, and even dangerous. Therefore, Jinyu Bio is now making history with its efforts to become the operator of China’s first digital factory for the production of animal vaccines.

Improved reliability, traceability, and safety

But what are the benefits of digitalization? First of all, increased reliability because of a higher level of consistency compared to manual operations. “In a production environment with low-level automation, even a subtle difference in the behavior of operations may eventually lead to unstable quality among different vaccine batches,” explains Li Rong, Industrial Director at Jinyu Bio. Digital factories boost traceability: When a product defect occurs, the time and effort to track what went wrong is greatly reduced compared to traditional factories. Finally, digitalization increases safety, because there is less human interaction with the microbes and toxins used to create vaccines.

To take advantage of these benefits, Jinyu Bio has embarked on an Industry 4.0 journey with Siemens. For this, the experienced Siemens team has drawn up a ten-year digitalization solution for the animal vaccine producer covering the entire life cycle. “This project is an example of how Siemens can adapt its digital portfolio to serve individual industries – in this case pharma,” states Xu Yibin, Section Manager at Siemens China. The solutions are aligned with production needs. For Jinyu Bio, this means integration at three levels:

 

End-to-end integration: No matter which industry, in the past increasing teamwork efficiency was a major headache for design engineers because real-time information sharing and coordination were nearly impossible. Plus, modifying blueprints involved high error risks. That changes with Comos. The digital platform from Siemens allows engineers at Jinyu Bio to access and modify design data anytime and anywhere, thereby reducing design costs and increasing teamwork efficiency. Furthermore, Comos constructs digital twins of physical equipment to substantially improve design accuracy. When Comos is coupled with Simatic PCS 7, engineers can track data from equipment. And should maintenance be needed, a work order can be triggered automatically.

Vertical integration: Previously, information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) were separate at Jinyu Bio. That created internal information silos that prevented the factory from responding quickly to emerging market demands. The situation has changed with the introduction of vertical integration of software and hardware. XHQ Operations Intelligence software assembles a highly disciplined “army force” of internal information systems that assist the management team in decision making. An essential tool here is Simatic IT eBR, a manufacturing execution system (MES) Siemens developed for the pharmaceutical industry. Among others, Simatic IT eBR controls automated production and provides for full traceability.

To Jinyu Bio, Siemens has always been a professional, dedicated and trustworthy partner in our digital transformation.
Zhang Chongyu, Chairman of Jinyu Bio-technology

Horizontal integration: The real value of the Internet of Things (IoT) lies in the collected data and the insights that are generated from it. Jinyu Bio is cooperating with Siemens to build IoT-based big data platforms. With comprehensive digital offerings, such as Teamcenter, Simatic IT Unilab, and Sipat, Siemens is helping Jinyu Bio shape the horizontal integration of data, from material suppliers to vaccine customers. The management team at Jinyu Bio sees big data as integral for intelligent manufacturing – and eventually smart vaccination.

Opportunities today and tomorrow

The Industry 4.0 journey at Jinyu Bio is being accompanied by talent cultivation, because work in a digital factory requires different skills. Siemens is supporting Jinyu Bio by helping employees improve their automation and information know-how. This, in turn, has fueled a cultural change: “Through professional trainings, our production and management teams have developed digital mindsets,” says Ma Yiming, Human Resources Director at Jinyu Bio.

 

With a digital mindset among employees and with Siemens at its side, Jinyu Bio is poised to take the biopharmaceutical industry into a new era of digitalization. Once again, it looks like China is making history with vaccines.

Jinyu Bio-technology Co., Ltd.

 

Jinyu Bio-technology Co., Ltd. was founded in March 1993. In line with its vision “Commit to Healthy Cause, Co-create for A Better Life,” the company seeks to continuously innovate its management, technology, and products to improve its core competitiveness. At the end of 2015, Jinyu Bio-technology decided to build a new industrial park. Aside from production facilities, the park also houses the National High-Level Biosafety Lab, whose purpose is to pioneer the digital transformation in China’s bio-pharmaceutical industry.

 

August 2019

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