The term Process Analytical Technology [PAT] has been originally defined by the United States Food and Drug Administration [FDA] but is now often used for process analytics in general. It describes the approach to better understand the manufacturing process by using analytical measurements and, ultimately, to produce better product quality and reduce waste. The tools used to collect and analyze the measurements are often in-line and on-line fiber-optic spectrometer systems for the UV-VIS and NIR [near infrared spectroscopy, color] but also include Raman
spectroscopy and others.
In the chemical and pharmaceutical industry, these systems are used to control the process and detect end-points by measuring the concentration of active ingredients and parameters like color, water content, OH-numbers or similar. Other industries include the lighting and optical industry, food, beverage, and semiconductor [e.g. optical wafer inspection].
An embedded spectroscopic sensor system can be directly connected to the industrial data infrastructure by means of a selection of process communication interfaces and field buses such as Modbus
, CANbus or EtherCat. This allows to implement a closed-loop control [Process Interface
In combination with powerful data evaluation algorithms like multivariate analysis [chemometrics], multiple parameters can be measured in reactors or pipes. The embedded spectroscopy platform also provides on-board filter algorithms which check the validity of the spectral data, detecting and eliminating corrupted spectra caused by bubbles or particles, as well as an empty pipe status.
In addition to functionality and reliability of the embedded instrument used in process analysis, IT security has to be considered especially in an industry 4.0 environment
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