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Remote Peristaltic Pump Monitoring through the IoT Increases Productivity and Reduces Costs in R&D and Pilot Plant Operations
Today’s research and development is becoming more demanding. Companies need to find ways to increase their throughput without corresponding budget increases. At the same time, samples are more valuable than ever, so loss of a single batch can cost tens of thousands of dollars. R&D managers have been traditionally faced with two choices: leave their experiments running overnight unattended and risk loss of a valuable sample, or stop their work at the end of the day losing valuable productivity. Advances in remote monitoring through the Internet of things (IoT) have eliminated the need for a physical presence in fluid handling research and development, giving researchers the ability to remotely achieve much of the same control and monitoring they need in their workflow—whether that be preparation, fermentation, harvesting, or purification.
Remote monitoring, increasingly seen in pharmaceutical processing operations, can be equally, if not more, beneficial for R&D departments tasked with fluid handling experiments or pilot testing. Applying remote monitoring to peristaltic pumps can positively impact departments who are tasked with fluid handling 24/7 but don’t have the staff to monitor the pumps. The ability to have local Bluetooth® wireless control along with cloud-based remote monitoring allows R&D departments to develop product and processes faster. This opportunity to complete the R&D phase and move quickly through the pilot process can reduce the time to market for a new product and lower the cost of bringing a new product to market.
The ability to control a peristaltic pump via Bluetooth connectivity allows researchers more flexibility when placing pumps in the process flow. No longer do they need to have hands-on access to the pump to control or setup a fluid handling process. By utilizing the capabilities of today’s smartphones and tablets, researchers can program all the pump capabilities from up to 70 feet away. The pump can be placed within a cleanroom, fume hood, glove box or other restricted area of the laboratory allowing the researcher to remain outside of those areas. This ability for remote control can amount to significant time and cost savings by eliminating the need for gowning, disinfecting, washing, and decontamination steps associated with entering many restricted areas. It can also provide additional employee health and safety assurances by distancing employees from dangerous chemicals or biologics.
Peristaltic pump operators using this technology can control and program all the pump parameters: speed, flow, start, stop, and direction. In addition, operators can set up the pump as a metering pump for nutrient feed, pH control, transfer, and filtration, or as a dispensing device used for filling and aliquot dosing.
With the growth in Internet connectivity, peristaltic pumps and other fluid handling instruments can now be monitored by way of cloud services from anywhere in the world. Fluid handling equipment is now able to send read-only indication of operational parameters and status conditions viewable through an applet on any Internet-connected device. Monitoring of these parameters and conditions can give researchers peace of mind that their experiment is running exactly how they left it upon leaving the lab or pilot plant. It also allows multitasking during longer dispensing runs as the researcher can perform other critical tasks in their workflow in other locations while being able to confirm exactly how much time is left in their dispensing run.
For researchers looking for a more hands-off approach to monitoring, the monitoring interfaces can also be set up with notification rules that send alerts by email or text about certain conditions such as dispense cycle completion, leakages, equipment errors. Every second is critical with sensitive and expensive samples; immediate notification allows quick reaction that can salvage cells, media or other important products. In a perfect example of “simpler is better,” the read-only transmission of operational parameters and status conditions maintains security and confidentiality. The pump process cannot be interrupted nor can critical information about the underlying R&D be viewed by unauthorized parties. The monitoring applet is also controlled by log-in and strong passwords and then paired only with a unique serial number for the equipment, adding another layer of security against unintended viewing.
When operating with tight budgets or constrained resources, researchers can take advantage of new connectivity capabilities. Immediate benefits include an increase in productivity and a reduction in costs within their laboratory and pilot plant fluid handling operations. This connectivity can help improve time to market and allow unattended and overnight operation, while maintaining confidence that the process is being monitored.
Bluetooth connectivity allows for a hands-off control approach providing flexibility of pump placement within the research process and can emulate the plant process thereby allowing a quicker time between the R&D lab to the process floor. This technology can also add a level of safety for employees by distancing then from harmful chemicals and biologics.
Cloud-based remote monitoring allows the researcher to track extended runs for a more seamless extension through pilot-scale and into full process. Read-only data transmission ensures data security—which is and should be a concern shared by researchers and product developers.
Masterflex® now offers new connectivity options on its most popular drives in L/S and I/P sizes to provide customers with maximum control over their pumping applications. In addition to Bluetooth controls and cloud-based monitoring, Masterflex’s new Advanced Communication drives support Ethernet/IP communications for automated processes. Learn more about remote pump control and monitoring and wireless temperature and humidity monitoring products on our website.