For pharmaceutical manufacturers that need mobile computing workstations in lower grade cleanrooms, new full-function, light-duty options can substantially lower the cost compared to more robust stainless-steel models required in Class A and B facilities.
Stainless-steel equipment is often used in higher grade cleanrooms to meet stringent hygiene requirements and withstand rigorous cleaning processes without corroding. Lower grade cleanrooms, however, do not have the same requirements.
This has opened the door to a new category of light-duty mobile workstations constructed of alternative materials that can provide the same functionality at a more economical price. The workstations were designed at the request of technology integrators for some of the industry’s leading pharmaceutical manufacturers.
“Unlike fixed workstations, light-duty mobile workstations offer greater flexibility in moving and positioning equipment than stainless steel units and cost substantially less. The mobile workstations are easy to move to various support operations and configure, which improves production efficiency,” said Paul Shu of ARISTA Corporation, a leading provider of computing platforms and visualization display products for pharmaceutical manufacturing environments.
According to Shu, the latest units are designed to provide all the computing power necessary to supply the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) crucial to monitoring and managing business performance.
Essential KPIs for pharmaceutical manufacturing typically include manufacturing efficiency, capacity utilization, cost per unit, quality yield rates and compliance rate with Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP). These KPIs facilitate optimizing production processes, reducing costs and ensuring product quality and safety.
More Economical, Mobile, Flexible
While Grades A and B cleanrooms require workstations constructed of 316L stainless steel to resist corrosion and caustic cleaning agents, the light-duty units have been designed specifically for use in less critical production areas graded C and D.
According to Shu, light-duty mobile workstations such as ARISTA’s single display AMW-101 or dual display AMW-102 are designed for use in a wide range of pharmaceutical applications where cleanliness, flexible access to computing power peripherals and KPIs may be required.
“The light-duty mobile workstations were designed for less stringent sterilization requirements in the pharma manufacturing cleanroom, but still have all the functionalities required for pharma manufacturing. These systems offer a wider range of options than stainless steel workstations for the choice of computers, monitors and other peripherals, with more flexibility to select from name brands,” said Shu.
Within space constrained plants, mobile workstations can replace multiple fixed workstations and eliminate the need for operators to walk back and forth between workspaces to perform tasks such as scanning and printing barcode labels. There are also no installation costs.
With an optional lithium battery, the mobile workstations can be operated with an uninterruptible power source while they are on the move. Using the battery, they can be operated 4~8 hours before recharging is necessary.
Besides the wired LAN, Wi-Fi capability can be built into the mobile workstations to allow for uninterrupted wireless communication in the cleanroom, laboratory and factory. Since most advanced pharmaceutical facilities today have Wi-Fi-based system backbones connected to legacy subsystems, the workstations can communicate directly with the facility’s server. With a mobile unit, manufacturing execution systems, electronic batch records (EBR), SOP, ERP and other back-end systems can all communicate directly with wireless connections, eliminating extra steps.
To accommodate user preferences and promote better ergonomics throughout the manufacturing environment, the mobile workstations utilize adjustable height LCD displays that can be swiveled 45 degrees left/right and a dual display can be installed in either portrait or landscape mode.
To streamline verifying or identifying materials and other items, the mobile workstations have a barcode scanner holder on either side of the unit to accommodate right/left hand operation. An optional barcode label printer shelf and barcode scanner charging cradle shelf can be ordered and integrated on the unit, enabling immediate barcode scanning and label printing from the same mobile workstation, through the manufacturing space.
For companies that require a unique solution, the AMW-101/102 mobile workstations can be fully customized to meet requirements and address ever-changing manufacturing configurations in the pharma industry. The mobile workstations can be fully integrated with Arista's industrial computers or completely customizable configurations, from LCD display size to specific computer brands such as Dell or HP, to meet any cleanroom requirements.
As pharmaceutical plants face market pressure, the ability to use light-duty mobile workstations in lower grade cleanrooms and other settings can substantially lower cost compared to stainless steel units. With full workstation capability, greater mobility and more peripheral options, the light-duty units are an essential new alternative for pharma professionals to consider when seeking optimal profitability and productivity from plant processes.