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LoRaWAN IoT Platform, UCB Pharma: better control over environmental conditions

UCB Pharma specialises in the research, development and marketing of new medicines and innovative solutions for people with immune or nervous system disorders. The company needs a perfectly sterile, stable and clean environment to design these drugs.

The challenge

UCB Pharma must control its facility’s environmental conditions to manufacture pharmaceutical products. The pharmaceutical company thus uses a system that controls the temperature, humidity and pressure of the different zones. It is also equipped with a system that controls all its data to prevent any risk of contamination. This second system, however, is facing technical and upgrade-related issues. UCB Pharma turned to us to make its Environmental Monitoring System (EMS) more reliable and also more agile in terms of upgrades and maintenance.

The stages

At the request of UCB Pharma, we conducted an audit coupled with a Proof of Concept (PoC) approach. Based on the information collected via the User Requirement Specifications (URS) and discussions with users, we succeeded in defining user-expected system characteristics, specifications and performance.

The project’s remaining phases were:

  • Detailed study, i.e specification of the selected system
  • Implementation, i.e programming of the selected system
  • FAT validation and tests on the platform
  • Commissioning, installation of servers, software, sensors, probes, etc.
  • SAT and qualification validation, field tests

Tests were run with sensors and antennas to gauge the technology and coverage of the facilities. The solution was then implemented throughout the facilities in several phases: The solution’s first deployment phase served as the basis for installing all the probes.

Users assisted us throughout the SCADA design process in a co-construction approach. This approach made it possible to identify and prioritise information before integrating it into the monitoring views.

Our solution

This project required skills in conceptualisation, System Platform Architecture, Automation and Computing/IT.

We replaced the existing system with a hybrid PLC/IoT solution based on LoRaWan. This communication protocol renders low-power, long-range communication. The Galium IoT Hub technology distributed by Factory Systemes was chosen to manage the LoRaWAN network. The IoT sensors particularly measure:

  • Temperature
  • Humidity
  • Delta pressure
  • Environmental measurement of equipment such as CO2.

An AVEVA System Platform SCADA system was also coupled to this solution. This HMI/SCADA system delivers an ergonomic interface and automatically generates detailed reports, making it easy to monitor the environmental conditions of different zones.

This solution has been modularly designed, combining several standard products, including OCEASOFT sensors that communicate with the LoRaWAN network. This modularity makes for a particularly robust and flexible system:

  • Unlike in the past, when you had to pull a cable, look for power and do the job, it is now very easy to install a wireless, battery-powered sensor.
  • Two antennas cover the site and no longer require the installation of numerous gateways.
  • It is easier to move, disassemble or modify a sensor, resulting in greater flexibility of the system’s life cycle.
  • The instrumentation and maintenance manager can easily replace the sensor with one that is already calibrated on the bench instead of calibrating it on site.

By providing multi-brick solutions, sensors on one side and a supervision system on the other, we can provide monitoring solutions perfectly adapted to pharmaceutical environments so that systems can evolve more easily without being dependent on a single supplier.

Key figures

installed sensors

Total site coverage

This truly challenging project was both innovative and motivating, since the client gave us a great deal of freedom of action!

Adrien DirandAutomation and IT engineer

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