Brought to life
Biocatalysts has brought a new enzyme production facility on stream in a very short time, despite pandemic-related difficulties. Craig Galeozzie, Operations Director at Biocatalysts Ltd., reports on this experience.
At Biocatalysts Ltd. in Cardiff, UK, we recently started up a new plant for enzyme production. In “normal” times, commissioning a new multi-million-pound, state-of-the-art fermentation facility would never be considered easy. Add to it a global pandemic, social distancing, limited resources, travel restrictions, process complexity, and the challenge of successfully commissioning Biocatalysts Ltd new facility was going to take a herculean effort.
Teamwork is everything, and communication
Commissioning… Where do you start? Simply put – with a team. Having a multi-skilled flexible project team, who were under no illusion of the task ahead, was fundamental to success. While ‘Working from Home’ had become the norm for some, ‘Commissioning from Home’ was never going to work. It was going to take 100% "hands-on" every minute of every day from everyone involved to achieve this goal.
Having assembled the right team, how do you ensure strong consistent communication within the project to achieve the goal of successful commissioning? It starts with a clear plan of attack and everyone knowing their role in the process. Followed by open and honest communication to enable quick task execution, live problem solving and progress updates at the point of interest. It worked, we had a fully commissioned plant, now for the first full fermentation process.
Five kilometers of internal piping
The plan was to manufacture a continuous 144 hour challenging Yarrowia fermentation and down- stream-process. The utilities were fired for the first time in earnest, the sterile boundary passed all tests, vessels were sterilised, batched, and the fermentation inoculated, coming to life fed via the PCS7 Siemens system, five kilometres of internal pipework and seven kilometres of electrical and data cabling. The many thousands of connections, pumps, motors, valves, and welds that fed the downstream process through the homogeniser, centrifuge, ultrafiltration, all now fired sequentially and successfully. All the hard work during plant design and installation had paid off!
Almost two weeks later we had successfully completed our first full fermentation, the product yields were within target and met all the required specification.
We have now completed five consecutive successful batches of various strains, for a range of customers all meeting agreed yield expectations without a single fermentation failure. The enzyme manufacturing plant has already moved onto 7-day shift work, we have created many new jobs with more to come, and the schedule for 2021 is already approaching capacity.
This is a significant achievement for Biocatalysts Ltd! We completed this project under the most trying of conditions. It is a testament to the team involved and the company as a whole to our perseverance, hard work and commitment to provide our customers with the ability to choose from specialised off the shelf enzymes to developing and manufacturing a novel enzyme at commercial scale.
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