The BioNTech SE biotechnology company, based in Mainz, readied an existing facility in Marburg for the production of the COVID-19 vaccine in record time with assistance from Siemens. The production plant has been producing the active substance since February and the vaccine BNT162b2 since the end of March.
BioNTech acquired the new production facility towards the end of 2020, already equipped with capabilities for producing biotech substances. Through collaboration with Siemens and the team of experts in Marburg, the project timeline for making the existing facility ready for the production of mRNA-vaccine was cut from around one year down to five months, whereby the implementation of key parts of the new MES was reduced to two and half months. The new system and end-to-end digitalisation of production enable conversion to paperless documentation of production, which can immediately fulfil all documentation requirements.
The entire process flow is controlled using Siemens products: The Opcenter Execution Pharma MES is used to orchestrate subsystems and processes and to analyse their quality. Production processes can be automatically developed, optimised and managed. mRNA processes encompass a number of manual work steps, such as weighing, which can now be performed by Siemens weighing systems, as precise measurement of weight is vital for product quality. All systems were modified for automation using the Simatic PCS 7 process control system, which controls and regulates the system processes. Other products used include network technology, WLAN access points, communication technology and the TIA Portal engineering framework. Siemens supports system implementation for production start-up at BioNTech with in-depth service and on-call readiness. Siemens and BioNTech enjoy a long tradition of partnership collaboration and have intensified their cooperation for COVID-19 vaccine production.
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