Future vision for chemical processing for pharma and specialty chemicals – modular plants using smart development and manufacturing tools


Microinnova Engineering GmbH, Allerheiligen bei Wildon, Austria


The pharmaceutical and specialty chemical industry is slowly adopting a new paradigm of continuous processing with smart development and manufacturing. Process development tools in the context of Quality by Design (QbD) allow a holistic evaluation of chemical synthesis and unit operations. Including Process Analytical Technology (PAT) in the early-stage development provides a significant advantage in both process control and modelling. These concepts integrated with modular production plants, provide uniform processing and full process control. Interchangeability of plant modules will be possible with standards like Module Type Package (MPT) for vendor-independent integration. Future chemical plants will provide uniform processing according to the chemical requirements of a process, with intensified mass and heat transfer and each molecule experiencing the same processing conditions.

Focusing on value generation in the processing industries could lead to significant changes in how manufacturing will be done in the future. As shown by Ryan Air, evaluating value-generating steps can lead to fundamentally new approaches and to changed business models. Applying this concept in the chemical industry identifies value generation for batch reactors during filling and heating up, while on the other hand, emptying and cleaning only produces effort and costs. Here, the benefits of a continuous plant can be seen by continuously producing value.
The F3-Factory Project, a previous research project has identified the two most important factors for getting costs per produced kg down: 1. Process Intensification and 2. Universal Engineering Designs with the ability to be used more than once. Process intensification has nothing in common with process improvement. Process improvement optimizes existing approaches by doing the same thing just better. Process intensification aims to identify principles to do things differently by changing processing fundamentals.
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