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J Lab Autom. 2013 Apr;18(2):137-42. doi: 10.1177/2211068212471671. Epub 2012 Dec 27.

Development of advanced fermentor control applications for use in an industrial automation environment.

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  • 1Pharma Technical Development, Genentech, South San Francisco, CA 94080, USA.


We present a software platform developed by Genentech and MathWorks Consulting Group that allows arbitrary MATLAB (MATLAB is a registered trademark of The MathWorks, Inc.) functions to perform supervisory control of process equipment (in this case, fermentors) via the OLE for process control (OPC) communication protocol, under the direction of an industrial automation layer. The software features automated synchronization and deployment of server control code and has been proven to be tolerant of OPC communication interruptions. Since deployment in the spring of 2010, this software has successfully performed supervisory control of more than 700 microbial fermentations in the Genentech pilot plant and has enabled significant reductions in the time required to develop and implement novel control strategies (months reduced to days). The software is available for download at the MathWorks File Exchange Web site at

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