Interview with Marcello Zoppetti, Head of Process Automation in SUANFARMA Italia

What is involved in creating and maintaining a process automation strategy?
Marcello Zoppetti, Head of Process Automation in SUANFARMA Italia explains it to us in this interview.

What is the goal of business process automation?

Nowadays companies are designing more and more complex and flexible industrial processes, in order to offer the market a wide variety of products with a high level of customization, following the growing needs of the final consumer.

The goal of automation is to create robust and reliable processes, using advanced
technologies that enable high production rates, while always remaining in control.
The strength of automation lies in its ability to interact with the people who oversee the process, driving continuous improvement.

It may happen that a process drifts, in which case automation must be able to detect the anomaly in a very short time and report it to the operator in the simplest and most complete way, allowing them to intervene as soon as possible, thus shortening plant downtime.

What are the main challenges of your role?

The term automation makes you think of the future, of new technologies, of progress.

Being part of Process Automation is a continuous stimulus to find new solutions to daily
production problems.

It’s not just about producing faster, but about optimizing, being more efficient, reducing waste of resources and environmental impact.

In today’s industry, where there is a demand for ever shorter return on investment times, the challenge is to involve colleagues and managers in adhering to automation processes, even when the economic return is difficult to quantify in advance.

To our advantage, we have the tools to measure the performance of the actions we take, so when a new project is completed, we can assess the benefits in a very short time.

Tell us about a project that has given you particular satisfaction

Last year we worked on a project to revamp the distillation plant for isopropanol, a substance used in the processing of active ingredients that is recovered to be reused in subsequent productions.

Before the intervention, the plant was run in semi-automatic mode, where operator intervention was required even for routine operations.

The idea was to revisit the logic of operation to make the process more efficient with self-
diagnosis capabilities, to help operators identify possible anomalies in the shortest possible time.

We had the opportunity to apply new communication technologies and control systems of the latest generation, which allowed us to achieve an optimized process and energy savings.

Not to mention the strong reduction of the environmental impact thanks to a substantial
reduction of electricity and steam.

What are the trends in the field of automation of business processes?

One of the main trends is the interconnection of plants with factory management systems.

All business functions, from production to maintenance, from supply chain to quality are
managed by computer systems that produce large amounts of data.

Data can be collected in centralized systems that can organize, process, and redistribute it to facilitate strategic decisions to business continuity and process innovation.

For example, production planning systems can send the production schedule to the plants, which self-configure and begin processing.

In return, the plants communicate to the ERP the quantities produced and the raw materials used, for complete product traceability.

Three words to describe SUANFARMA Italia

Dynamic: SUANFARMA Italia is the union between people with a great knowledge of the process and people who think outside the box.
The result is a great ability to adapt and a creative vision of the future.

Collaborative: the success of many projects comes from the collaboration of all company functions, united by the common goal of SUANFARMA Italia’s success.

Solid: the 50 years of presence in the territory have led to a solid position in the industry of active ingredients by fermentation and API.

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