Monday, July 16, 2012

OSI PI is Process Omniscience

Employee #2 at OSIsoft is this guy named Don Smith. And the first or second time I met him, I found out that he has an aquarium is hooked up to an OSI PI server and that he uses ProcessBook to trend things like pH, dO2, and temperature for his fish.

I've never seen the setup, but as he was telling me this story, it occurred to me that if his fish were theists, that Don would be their god. Not in the sense that he was their creator, but in the sense that at all times, Don knows every important thing that needs to be known about their "earth".

At the time, I was a fermentation engineer for Genentech, so if Don was the omniscient presence for his fish, then I was the omniscient presence for these mammalian cells that were flying around these bioreactors.

Being the omniscient with respect to CHO cells or fish with the aid of a PI system is one thing. Knowing everything there is to know about a process is another.
There was this one time I got a call from the Instrumentation & Electrical (I&E) department asking me to see if I could tell if a probe got calibrated sometime between 1:00 and 1:15pm. I pulled up PI ProcessBook and was looking for the typical calibration characteristic of zeroing and spanning of the probe signal. I looked at the squiggly flat line and told those guys that there didn't seem to be any activity on the probe at all.

A week later, I find out that they fired an instrument technician on account of falsifying a work order. The trespass? Claiming that he executed the calibration when, according to PI data, nothing was going on at the time.

I&E must have had their suspicions, but when they confirmed with the all-knowing process guru (and had me print out a screenshot), they had enough to let the guy go.

When it comes to operating in a cGMP environment, it really pays to have process omniscience... like an OSIsoft PI system recording every last detail about your process.

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