As 2014 drew to a close, the new technology centre for chemical development at Boehringer Ingelheim opened its doors, becoming the pharmaceutical company's largest research and development facility worldwide. Playing their part were the new, highly secure Zero Clients from BARTEC.
Faster time to market
Thanks to its wide range of device technology, the highly flexible technology centre can cover a variety of chemical processes. The focus, however, is on the newly developed pharmaceutical substances. In order to bring these "new chemical entities" (NCEs) to market as quickly as possible, the 2,700 m2 technology centre houses a number of synthesis laboratories, in which the process transfer from the laboratory to mass production is managed. In complex pilot facilities, the NCEs are produced in batches of 10 to 100 kilograms for clinical trials.
Safely visualising processes
If the basic automation of the technology centre was largely comparable with real production, the automation of the pilot facility represented a greater engineering effort in view of the higher degree of freedom and flexibility. This was not the only reason why the project team placed particular value on cost-effectiveness during implementation. This was achieved using a range of perfectly intertwining innovations. One of these is the "virtualisation of visualisation", a forward-thinking concept that grants advantages in flexibility, cost and space savings.
The Zero Client solution
Instead of a classic KVM system, the project team decided on a much more modern, but no less safe, HDMI solution – the POLARIS REMOTE ZeroClient from BARTEC. All the streamlined end devices have to do is depict the virtualised process control system running centrally in the server room and make it operable. Only the remote desktop protocol Microsoft RDP, the industry standard for remote access to Windows systems, is permitted for exchanging the screen, mouse and keyboard codes required.
As the Zero Clients do not offer any kind of data interface in hazardous areas, staff can use the visualisation solution exclusively for their own work. This form of data protection is reinforced by the enhanced write filter (EWF) of the Windows embedded operating system, which is activated as standard. It prevents any kind of physical write access to the system partition of the installed data medium, thus eliminating typical security risks such as abuse or virus infections.
Benefits in operation
The design, developed together by Boehringer Ingelheim and BARTEC, secures the process control system in compliance with all the rules of IT security, without unnecessarily tying up internal resources. This is because the ingenious system and client architecture removes the need for regular patching, reducing the total cost of ownership. As the actual intelligence of the Zero Client solution, i.e. the application, is outside the Ex area, the cost and workload of installation are also reduced. Any necessary maintenance can mostly be conducted outside hazardous areas. The devices themselves require virtually no configuration, and can be relocated quickly if necessary.
A successful complete package
The real coup that BARTEC has achieved with the POLARIS REMOTE ZeroClients, however, is the innovative complete package of individual components, each of which represent a new market benchmark. The hardware, certified for Ex zones 1 and 2, together with the RDP access protocol and modern HD touch screen in a range of formats, combine to form a unique visualisation solution. For users in the technology centre, this means a uniform look and feel to all the devices they work on, from the synthesis reactor and drying chamber to the hydrator or centrifuge.
Boehringer Ingelheim operates 17 Zero Clients, several of which are integrated in the wall. Most of them, however, work as part of a mobile workstation based on an ergonomically designed stainless steel carriage. With the specification calling for a maximum outer dimension of 70 cm, the project team decided on a compact design with a 17.3 inch display. Safe touch operation of the system is still ensured, however, thanks to a zoom function integrated in the visualisation.
Innovative and efficient
On the hunt for a future-proof design for the new technology centre, BARTEC once again proved its value as a solutions partner to its long-term customer Boehringer Ingelheim. This intensive cooperation resulted in a Zero Client solution tailored precisely to the customer's wishes. Given their low investment costs, high availability and flexibility, however, the POLARIS REMOTE ZeroClients may soon become the industry standard.