An in-process testing system for the polymer manufacturing lines of a chemical company needed to be updated to reduce downtime and improve testing flexibility. CSols has a contractual agreement with the client that has developed due to our expertise with STARLIMS, Empower, and C# development. The work described here is part of a larger, ongoing project to which CSols has dedicated project management resources.
The goal of this project was to update and enhance the in-process testing workflow for polymer manufacturing, and to automate data storage.
- The existing system would fail at inconvenient times and was not scalable or flexible.
- Manufacturing parameters had to be manually entered for each of the sampling processes.
- The client’s ability to adjust polymer batches was limited to the three sampling points allowed in the current system, which had no interface to the Empower CDS.
CSols’s Role in the Solution
CSols has expertise in C# coding, with STARLIMS applications, and with Empower CDS. This expertise enabled our consultant to design a custom Windows Service application, written in C#, to work with the client’s existing systems and deliver the desired functionality and scalability. For this work, a CSols resource functioned as the Developer and Business Analyst. They performed the following key tasks:
- Identified the best path for developing the custom application and wrote the design and requirements documents for the custom application to be created.
- Wrote code for a Windows Service application to work with data from the DCS, the STARLIMS database, and the Empower CDS API to write a STARLIMS script to create a batch, sample, and result, then attach the plot file to the result.
- Performed operational qualification testing for the application.
- Automating the in-process sampling allowed manufacturing efficiency to increase, and the number of support tickets has decreased.
- Evaluation of the DCS allowed the CSols Business Analyst/Developer to identify what C# programming was required for the custom application so that users can identify the key sampling and analysis points in the batch being manufactured. This lets the client address any out-of-spec batches.
- The client can now test samples at different steps of the process, depending on the batch being run.
- There are five possible testing steps, but they can scale up because the coding in the custom application will base the sampling parameters on batch data from the DCS and STARLIMS lookup data. Lookup data can be added easily, using a custom STARLIMS application.
- Users are now able to view the Empower CDS Plot files in the STARLIMS SDMS, which is web-based and accessible without having to be logged into STARLIMS. The CSols Business Analyst/Developer’s extensive knowledge of STARLIMS and Empower CDS made it possible to write the custom application to improve the sampling process and streamline access to the results.
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