Siemens accelerated BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine production setup in Marburg
Siemens has helped the BioNTech SE biotechnology company based in Mainz to convert an existing facility in Marburg for the production of the Covid-19 vaccine in a record time. The site is one of the largest mRNA vaccine manufacturing sites in the world.
BioNTech acquired the production facility that was already equipped with capabilities for producing biotechnological substances in the fall of 2020. The production plant has been producing the vaccine BNT162b2 (also known as COMIRNATY®) since the end of March.
Through collaboration with Siemens and the team of experts on-site in Marburg, the project timeline for converting the existing facility for the production of mRNA-vaccine was cut from around one year down to five months, and the implementation of key parts of the new Manufacturing Execution System (MES) was reduced to two and half months. The new system and end-to-end digitalization of vaccine production enabled conversion to “paperless documentation of production”, which can immediately fulfill all documentation requirements – a critical component of vaccine efficacy.
The entire process flow is controlled by Siemens technology: The Opcenter Execution Pharma MES is used to orchestrate subsystems and processes and to analyze their quality. Production processes can be automatically developed, optimized and managed. mRNA processes encompass a number of manual work steps, such as weighing, which can now be performed by Siemens weighing systems, as precise measurement of weight is vital for product quality. All systems were modified for automation using the Simatic PCS 7 process control system, which controls and regulates the system processes. Other solutions used include network technology, WLAN access points, communication technology and the TIA Portal engineering framework.
The partnership between Siemens and BioNtech has accelerated the delivery of a safe and effective vaccine to the world much sooner than many people would expect. With Siemens technology, the Marburg facility is now set to produce about a quarter of the 2.5 billion doses of vaccine that Pfizer and BioNtech pledged this year.
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