It has been only two weeks here in Biocon Academy, and it already feels like a roller-coaster ride! From attending the BITS faculty’s online lectures to surprise evaluations, guest lectures, professional skills training and field visits – it has been an eventful two weeks of learning and growing. But so far what excited me the most is the field visits! Nothing like getting a first-hand experience of how the industry actually works, right?

Our first field visit was to the water generation plant in Biocon Park. Our guide for the day, Mr. Syed Mehadab, Associate Manager, Environment Health and Safety (EHS) Biocon, took us for a functional visit inside the water generation plant as he explained to us the various sequential steps required to purify the source water (example, river water). This water can be purified to various degrees, depending on the industrial requirement, such as RO treated water, processed water, purified water and water for injection (WFI), ranging from the least pure to the purest respectively. We were shocked to know that 20 lac litres of raw water are sourced for purification every single day. That’s when we realized how massive these plants have to be as they manufacture quality drugs for people all around the world. We were very excited to see the huge storage tanks, multigrade filters, micron filtration modules, RO modules, etc. and learnt about their functionality & working.

Mr. Syed also explained the steps taken to treat effluents. Most of the water is collected from various other departments after use and is recycled – which is now called ‘effluents’. These effluents undergo various steps of treatment before reuse/discard and the solids formed as a result are used in landfills reducing wastage of resources as much as possible. All in all, we had a great time interacting with Mr. Syed, who have 13 years of experience in Biocon. With an endearing and vibrant personality, he was more than happy to answer all our curious questions, and explained the topics where we failed to understand hard technical terms, he used simple yet effective analogies to explain the science of water purification.

The second functional visit was organized at the quality control labs in Biocon Campus. Mr. Sunil from the Quality Management System team was our guide for the day. He taught us about the working of an autoclave and its validation. We learned about various tests such as the leak test, Bouiedick test, and the use of chemical & biological indicators to validate an autoclave. We were also taken inside the quality control laboratory in 5 batches each consisting of five students. Before exploring the lab inside, we had to sanitize our hands near the entrance and gown ourselves with lab coats and head caps to avoid contamination. Then we proceeded to the ‘hot room’ and we were delighted to see the huge horizontal industrial-use autoclaves, which were quite different from the usual vertical autoclaves we used to work on in our college laboratories. We learned about different parts of the autoclave, its working, cleaning and validation. We were also shown some of the analytical reports where we learned how all the tests are done in a lab and how it is important to document it all considering cGMP guidelines. We explored the rest of the rooms, such as the weighing room, media storage room, media preparation room, cold storage room, bacterial endotoxin testing (BET) room, etc. Next day we were shown the Vitek machine that is used for the identification of bacteria and we learned about its working.

These functional visits so far were not only full of learning but also full of fun. We were lost on our way to the water generation building inside the massive maze called Biocon Park, but we met our mentor (SME) in the canteen and eventually found our way. We felt small, literally and figuratively, in such a huge campus, but after these functional visits, I can say I’m more confident now as I can finally perceive the direction I’m headed in! Dear next functional visit, you’re eagerly awaited!

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Dorothy Bodhak, BITS Biocon Certificate Program in Applied Industrial Microbiology, Batch 6

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