Project: Biopharmaceutical filtration automation July 14, 2005


July 14, 2005

The project has begun. Sales presentations are ancient history, purchase orders issued, technical information exchanged, kickoff meetings are over, and schedules are set. In short, the honeymoon is over. What remains are the details of bringing an automation system to life.

The entries for this blog will be a sort of journal that chronicles the activities of the project as it happens. But more than a sterile rehash of daily or weekly events, it will include opinion, explanation, and pontification about the project and its progress.

The content of this blog will follow these general guidelines:
1) The customer will not be mentioned by name, although they are aware of the blog.

2) The blog is focused primarily upon the development of automation software. Hardware, instrumentation, installation, or other aspects of the project concerning the physical equipment will not be significant topics.

The Project
Project deliverables will include software design documents, formal test procedure documents, and the actual code. Although each of these is delivered individually throughout the course of the project, all will be assembled at the end of the project and delivered together in a Turn-Over Package (TOP).

The first deliverable—the design document—requires that we first design the automation application. The design process includes reviewing customer requirements, customer conversations, and internal discussion to determine the best means to achieve the desired results.

As the design effort proceeds, we will capture the design concepts in a database application we have developed internally using a Microsoft SQL Server back end database with a Microsoft Access front end for entering the information. Not only will this database be used for developing the design, but it also generates documentation and code used in both the PLC and HMI software. This database will be mentioned often in future postings because it is an essential tool for implementing the project.

For the record, we create a separate back end SQL database for each new project we undertake.

What's Next?
Next week’s post will deal with the beginnings of the detailed design.

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