Swiss drug manufacturer Lonza Ltd. is a leading global supplier of contract manufacturing services to pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. Lonza combines technological innovation with world-class manufacturing and process excellence to provide services in pharma, biotech, nutrition and specialty ingredients.
Lonza’s 300,000-square-foot plant located outside Houston, Texas is the world’s largest cell and gene therapy manufacturing plant. The plant produces therapies that can alleviate underlying causes of genetic diseases and improve patient outcomes for acquired diseases. With production costs a major hurdle in getting new therapies to market, a state-of-the-art facility is required to ensure cost-efficient manufacturing and high quality products. Lonza’s Texas facility houses cutting-edge technologies and in-house expertise to support their extensive offering, which includes tailored processes and analytical development, cost- effective manufacturing, and cGMP-compliant operations.
“We have been using the Vaisala viewLinc Monitoring System for about nine years,” says David Teer, Senior Engineering Manager for Viral-based Therapeutics at Lonza Houston. “We used the system in a limited capacity at our previous facility. At that time, we were learning about viewLinc’s capabilities. As our operations have grown we’ve come to use the system in more applications.
“Building GMP environments can be costly and complex. Our facility also has a building automation and control system. The system is dependable, but we are very concerned with monitoring,” says Teer.
Dependable wireless, gap-free data
After many years of successfully using Vaisala’s wired DL-series data loggers for monitoring, Lonza Houston integrated some of Vaisala’s wireless VaiNet data loggers. “We were interested in the signal strength of the wireless data loggers,” says Teer. “Generally speaking, signal interference is a concern with wireless technology. But, we saw that the VaiNet wireless devices could communicate through buildings with significant infrastructure obstacles including concrete and steel.
“Along with that, the ability to have so many measurement points sending data to the software with a single CAT6 Ethernet cable was a real benefit. We were used to running hard-wired twisted pair cables to ensure coverage. That involved a lot of labor and expense. Worse, if a cable was ever cut, you could never get that data back. The Vaisala data loggers have onboard memory that ensures the data is recorded at the point of measurement. That’s huge for us.”
The Lonza Houston facility includes research and development laboratories, manufacturing and warehouse areas, as well as cleanrooms. In 2012, Lonza Houston installed their first cleanroom monitoring cabinet from Vaisala, the CAB100.
“The cleanroom cabinets are a convenient solution,” says Teer. “Prior to that, we were building our own panels to monitor the cleanrooms. We would buy the pressure transmitters, the power supply, etc. and wire it all up. Now Vaisala provides cabinets that integrate all the things we need. It’s a great way to reduce labor costs. We specify what we need and Vaisala builds it for us. That reduces the overall construction budget of a cleanroom. Cleanroom construction has to be efficient; often we are racing to market with a product. So the faster we can have the monitoring system set up, the better.”
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