How One Algae Company Scaled Up With Commercial Automation

January, 22 / 2019

By Amir Kaufman, COO and co-founder, Wonderlogix

Biotech is full of innovative startups, but most stumble with industrialization as they begin to scale. Here’s how one company succeeded in scaling up with commercial automation.

As they move from the “hands-on” approach of their founders to full automation, biotech companies often struggle.  They fear a loss of control through use of third-party automation engineers, a threat to IP as these contracted engineers move within the industry, and the difficult cultural change of transitioning from an idea-driven enterprise to one of process-driven automation and industrialization.  Many companies falter during this period. But the right technology partner can offer solutions to address all these challenges.

AlgaeMor’s Move to Commercial Scale Automation

With the proven nutritional value of Spirulina, it would have seemed that this particular strain of algae would have had an immediate market.  But inherent challenges, including taste and smell characteristics, limited its impact and relegated it to pill form as a work-around. Enter AlgaeMor, whose innovative quick freeze process allows it to be sold as fresh while retaining its nutritional value by avoiding heating and drying.  

But as groundbreaking as this process was, automation remained elusive due to the product’s unique characteristics and sensitive nature. The requirement of low sheer equipment and blast freezers meant that process control would have to be precise. AlgaeMor’s co-founder, Baruch Dach, worked in vain for over three months with automation engineers to develop and implement a working process control strategy. With frustration and cost rising, he turned to the WonderLogix platform for a solution.

Algaetech Innovation Meets Automation Innovation

No stranger to innovation, AlgaeMor recognized WonderLogix’s unique approach to automation control. Using Object-Oriented Design principles, the WonderLogix platform allows usersin this case, the life scientists who work directly with the productto define the components of the system. These components allow the use of natural language and the grouping of components into classes where mass changes can be achieved with a single change to inputs. With specified inputs and outputs, users can then specify the logical relationships between components in plain English.  

AlgaeMor was able to use WonderLogix to model their entire production process. By developing a simulated model to test various scenarios, the scientists who understand their process best were able to retain complete control. The WonderLogix platform allowed the AlgaeMor life scientists to design, develop, and deploy an optimized process control strategy, as well as make changes as needed to their process criteria: environmental conditions, water quality, contaminating agents and strain specific constraints.

By using the WonderLogix platform, AlgaeMor was able to achieve in eight hours what had eluded them in the previous three months. In addition to the natural language capability, the platform also generates documentation automatically. It allows for change control and acts as the engineering-grade production manual, which also serves as the record for Intellectual Property and as a POC roadmap for potential investors. And once the model is finalized, documented and accepted, PLC code is generated automatically.

AlgaeMor Moves Forward with Process Design Control

By utilizing the WonderLogix platform, AlgaeMor was able to address the challenges facing many biotech companies today. Process design control was shifted from third-party automation engineers directly to the life scientists at AlgaeMor. And Intellectual Property was better shielded by keeping the design in-house.

Finally, what was once an operation run on ideas and a notebook, was moved to a documented, agile process that allowed AlgaeMor to scale and grow with far less cost and shorter time to market for their products.

About WonderLogix

WonderLogix is disrupting the world of industrial automation. Using our patented technology, anyone can design and program control systems, in plain English—no coding or engineering knowledge required. Our clients get to market 3x faster than their competition.

Please contact us for more info or to book a demo.

Note: This is a guest post for the ABO blog. The views and opinions expressed by the author(s) are theirs alone and do not necessarily indicate the views and opinions held by the Algae Biomass Organization