Generic drug production is expensive and time consuming, and requires a lot of specialised equipment. Manufacturers must create, maintain and monitor a suitable production environment, and measure and report experiment results, periodically comparing them to a reference object. The challenge is not only one of managing biological complexity, but also of data handling and management. A manufacturer must gain and retain appropriate accreditations, and ensure the quality of the products they sell into an increasingly global marketplace.
Polpharma wanted to explore whether a software based solution could help ensure the integrity and consistency of the data generated in their Research and Technical Development Department during the production of generic drugs. The solution must allow Polpharma to maintain high quality in production, while achieving an appropriate level of data management and data traceability for auditing and accreditation purposes. To satisfy Polpharma’s high-level requirements, the solution must:
“Microsoft offers an Azure environment capable of addressing the customer’s current issues and allowing for further growth, including Machine Learning capability. We turned to our partner – Objectivity, a leader in solutions incorporating Big Data and IoT – to discuss architectural concepts and potential solutions.”
Agnieszka Zimnoch, Cloud Data Solutions Architect at Microsoft
Our team was engaged by Polpharma to work on an Internet of Things (IoT) scenario, which involved using the Microsoft Azure IoT stack to monitor the temperature of laboratory refrigerators. We then collaborated closely with Polpharma and Microsoft, to enhance the existing solution. These enhancements show not only assets and their monitored values, but also the location of each asset on a floor plan. This allows users to identify assets more rapidly, and to observe correlations of asset location with temperature changes over time.
After a short analysis at Polpharma laboratories, we built a proof of concept (PoC) solution, which enabled us to confirm that the proposed architecture was fit for purpose. Additionally, the PoC phase was designed to yield an order of magnitude estimate for the associated time and cost of implementing the full solution.
Finally, Technical Architects from Objectivity proposed an architecture that accommodates future extensions and meets all of Polpharma’s requirements. To save costs, the concept contains only those components that are needed at each specific stage of the project. The solution’s architecture breaks the data flow into the following layers:
“The architecture is flexible and is prepared for extension to large amounts of data (Big Data) as well as for the concept of the Internet of Things (IoT). It allows for successive addition of new data sources (both in the manual upload model and automatically if the device has such technical capabilities).”
Krystian Bień, IT Business Partner at Polpharma
To ensure cost effectiveness at the proof of concept stage, we agreed to implement only a subset of the final architecture. This was achieved by implementing the processing layer within web application logic, instead of using asynchronous Azure components as had originally been planned.
The technical solution delivered by Objectivity fully meets Polpharma’s needs and enables:
We created and configured an environment in Microsoft Azure that allowed us to construct our proof of concept architecture. The next step was to build the web application, which is used to upload measurement results to a cloud based data store (Azure Blob storage). The application also ensures that uploaded data is always tagged with appropriate meta data, including user name, equipment used, date and time, project, work order, and experiment details.
“After processing, the data is stored in a secure managed cloud database that enables performance to be scaled on the fly without application downtime. To leverage self-service analytics and provide stunning interactive reports we have implemented a dashboard in Power BI. This offers the potential to gain insights from an experiment’s results quickly and in a controlled manner”.
Krzysztof Stanaszek, Senior Software Developer at Objectivity
We understand that our clients need the solutions we provide to be easy and cost effective to support and maintain, so our developers created a Continuous Integration pipeline. This enables us to provision an environment in Microsoft Azure, and fully deploy a ready to use application within 15 minutes – all via a single mouse click.
“I was impressed how fast Objectivity was able to understand the business processes and terminology and propose a technical solution to meet all the requirements. The PoC phase was really helpful, not only to understand how the solution will support our further growth, but also to verify our readiness for digital transformation.”
Piotr Zień, Research and Technical Development Director at Polpharma Biologics