Continuous process - flow of production, product delivery, service delivery or other activities without interruption and with focus on continuity, usually for long period of time. First continuous manufacturing concepts originated in companies producing pig iron using blast furnaces, that where operating continuously without interruption for many years . Basic concept of continuous processing in manufacturing is to simultaneously charge and discharge materials. Idea of continuous processing is used in many industries such as:
- power generation,
- waste-water treatment,
- synthetic fibers,
- oil refining,
- natural gas.
It may also refer to other processes like continuous improvement which is a philosophy focused on continuous search for mostly small places for improvements in processes or products to improve quality, reduce waste and costs.
Continuous processing role and characteristics
Continuous processing may refer to material processing which are constantly in motion and are being processed. Companies using continuous processing are often pharmaceutical as it involves products that need to be developed quickly and usually are under heavy control and need to meet certain standards with minimized issues and faults. The aim of continuous processing in pharmaceutical companies is to reduce manufacturing costs, strengthen processes with online monitoring and optimise operations to reduce waste and pollution. Other advantages of continuous processing are:
- increased safety and efficiency,
- faster production,
- increased flexibility of manufacturing,
- lower levels of inventory,
- lower capital costs,
- consistent quality.
Components of continuous manufacturing
Continuous manufacturing is dependent from three major factors which are equally important. First component is equipment and process analytical tools. To ensure that everything is working correctly and operations are serving business purposes analytical tools are important. Second part are excipient manufacturers that are capable of providing supplies in consistent way with focus on process controlling. Last component is manufacturing facility as whole including machines and infrastructure. Serving continuous processes need safe and reliable machines that can work incessantly and adjusted environment for automated work.
Continuous delivery is a software development discipline which is focused on continuous delivery of software. That concept assumes that teams working on product are producing valuable parts of software in short cycles. Software that they are creating should be safe and reliable to release at any point in time . Usually it involves special tools and software that is constantly testing current version of software. After each contribution from any developer code base is end to end tested to assure quality and reliability of product in production environment (actual working environment used by clients). That concept is valuable for clients because they get new functionalities often and can influence current solution. Continuous delivery also affects developers as they can easily see their effects of work.
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Author: Michał Bałos