Process Analytical Technology
PAT is The Key to a Better Process
When is PAT most worthwhile?
The ability to monitor blend uniformity is particularly useful in mixing processes: When is optimum mixing achieved or are there perhaps undesirable segregation effects? Granule size and size distribution are especially important in processes such as granulation, coating, or pelletization.
Changes in particle size are important PAT parameters during the coating stage in the fluidized bed in particular, as there is a direct correlation between the dissolution profile of the substance and the size distribution of the particles. In drying processes, the residual moisture of the product has a decisive influence on the end time and shutting down of the process.
In continuous processes, meanwhile, the application of PAT is important in two respects: as a control system, it not only ensures consistent product quality throughout the long process duration, but also rejects out-of-spec material in good time. Practical applications, such as particle size measurement during a coating process or residual humidity measurement during a rotor process, prove the advantages that can be gained from real-time measurement.
However, the operator can only fully benefit from PAT instrumentation if the control system’s control circuits are closed. In the case of Glatt’s Modcos continuous process system, PAT integration into the specially designed software system Glatt View Conti was planned as early as the development phase.
Product traceability through the system is particularly important in continuously operating systems. By applying PAT in targeted areas after critical process steps, out-of-spec material can be detected, visually traced through downstream processes, and rejected at the end of the process line. In conclusion, PAT tools reduce the number of rejects, shorten process times, and facilitate reproducible product quality.
Furthermore, early application of PAT in product and process development — as well as during transfer — reduces material and time resources spent on these development phases.
PAT also helps to increase the degree of automation and reduce the risk of potential operator error. Finally, process analysis technology facilitates real-time release — paving the way for automated batch release as a result.