News & Knowledge

We’re your source for automation news. Keep up with the latest industry updates and E Tech employee spotlights, as well as tips and guidance from our manufacturing experts.  

E Tech Group Names Trent Meyers, P.E. Vice President of Life Sciences Central and Process Industries

Trent Meyers, P.E. assumes the role of Vice President of Life Sciences Central and Process Industries at E Tech Group, bringing over 30 years of industry experience in management and operations. His appointment reflects E Tech’s commitment to support growth in demand for the company’s industrial engineering and automation services. West Chester, OH – April … Continued

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Designing a process facility for an Oligonucleotide Manufacturer

A mRNA Therapeutics manufacturer needed a new process facility in order to meet growing demand. E Tech Group partnered with Hart Companies to deliver a complete solution for the client.

The Problem

With a large pipeline of products in development, a Massachusetts-based leader in the area of oligonucleotide / mRNA therapeutics needed a new process facility to achieve its business objectives.  The Hart Companies and E Tech Group were selected to provide a complete solution to satisfy this need.  

The project involved retrofitting portions of a multi-story, multi-tenant building, that includes retail establishments and offices in addition to labs. 

The Solution

Hart Design Group Ltd. provided the engineering services including process engineering and design, sequence-of-operations, component specifications, panel design, and detailed electrical design.  E Tech Group provided the integrated controls solution.  Hart’s construction arm, HEC Corp., delivered the process installation including piping, instrumentation, pumps and tankage.  The delivery method was a true self-performed design-build program.

In general, the mRNA platform relies on solvent-based reagents to synthesize strands of nucleic acids.  These in turn provide the pharmaco-active therapeutic activity that patients need.  The handling of solvents in occupied spaces is highly regulated via building codes, driven by NFPA standards.   The building codes and standards are extremely specific and limit the quantity of flammable materials that can be stored on various floors – with dramatically less volumes allowed on higher floors.   Hence, the control of solvent inventory calls for automated systems to deliver material “just in time” for manufacturing and to remove waste material.  This helps keep inventories within limits in designated “control areas”. 

The project involved integrating subsystems for buffer mixing/formulation and distribution; reagent distribution; and waste handling and storage.  This included multiple tank rooms, piping for pumped and gravity supply of reagents to synthesizers, storage of intermediates and final product, and waste handling and storage. 

The design was developed to maximize modularization which allowed the skids to be fabricated off-site in Hart’s fabrication shop located in Cumberland, Rhode Island.  These were then shipped and installed onsite saving a large amount of time on the construction schedule

Twenty-two control panels were designed and fabricated.  These enclosed hardwired I/O including a total of 133 analog inputs, 800 digital inputs, and 400 digital outputs.  Also, five VFDs communicated via ethernet for agitator control. 

Integration challenges were numerous.  In addition to the hard-wired I/O, BACnetTM communications were used between the PLC and the BMS for data exchange.  ModbusTM communications were established between the PLC and the gas monitoring system furnished by Draeger for O2 and LEL.  This included 150 ModbusTM tags providing percent O2 or LEL as well as alarm values.   In addition, Festo CPX manifolds for valve actuation communicated over ethernet IP.   

A software FAT was performed at E Tech Group’s Seabrook, New Hampshire location with the client’s participation.

The system architecture also included an HMI server, historian and SQL servers, redundant operator workstation servers, and an engineering workstation server.  Arista client computers were employed. 

The facility included a space with a Class I, Div. II, hazardous classification.  Stahl 9470 series intrinsically safe I/O modules were used there.  ControLogix 1756 series I/O was used for the non-hazardous areas. 

Scheduling for start-up and site acceptance testing (SAT) was done in stages based on completion by area.  This occasionally introduced periods of downtime.   Hart and E Tech were well-prepared and able to respond to the changing timeline.

The Results

Stemming from the number of prior solvent systems delivered together, the two companies followed the same guiding philosophy.  Hart and E Tech Group’s approach was to build the system using known components and logic, introducing innovative components and subsystems where these provided a cost, efficiency, or reliability advantage.

Based on our companies’ close working relationship, Hart and E Tech Group delivered a robust, flexible, and fully functional system that satisfied the client’s demanding needs while assuring safety and complying with all stringent codes and standards. 

The Hart and E Tech Group duo are now working on their sixth solvent-based project together and plan to deliver similar successes for research and manufacturing clients well into the future.

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E Tech Group to Showcase Life Sciences Capabilities at 2024 Annual ISPE-CaSA Chapter Life Sciences Technology Show

E Tech Group will exhibit in booth #1116 at the 31st annual International Society of Pharmaceutical Engineering Carolina-South Atlantic (ISPE-CaSA) Chapter Life Sciences Technology Show on Wednesday, February 28, 2024 at the Raleigh Convention Center in Raleigh, North Carolina. WEST CHESTER, OH – E Tech Group, a leader in providing high-quality automation, control, and engineering … Continued

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E Tech Group builds a PlantPAx Automation Solution for a Cultivated Meat Pilot Plant

Introduction  Cultivated meat, also called lab-grown or cultured meat, grows mammalian and fish cells for human consumption in a process similar to biotech drug substance manufacturing. Cultured meat is real meat that is grown from a cell bank of a small number of real animal cells. It doesn’t require animals to be raised, fed, and … Continued

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