Reduce Common Process Challenges – Biopharmaceutical Hose & Hose Assembly Maintenance

 
biopharmaceutical hose & hose assembly maintenance

Hoses are a crucial part of most biopharmaceutical and many other manufacturing processes. Moving fluids and products from one stage to another often involves transfer through a system reliant on pumps and pump hoses. As with all equipment involved in the manufacturing process, understanding when to change and to maintain hoses can decrease the risk of hose failure and help control costs.>/p>

In general, the best maintenance practice is either predictive or preventative. Predictive maintenance strategies are custom schedules that are developed based on equipment risk profiles and tailored maintenance needs. These are often designed based on failure analysis but can sometimes be provided by the hose supplier or manufacturer, depending on the application. Preventative maintenance involves sticking to pre-determined schedules, typically set by the equipment manufacturer. Both predictive and preventive plans can maximize productivity and reliability while maintaining safety standards, reducing cost, and decreasing contamination risks to both the product directly and the facility in general.

Maintenance isn’t always the controlling factor affecting hose life, however. Careful consideration needs to be taken when choosing the correct hose and adjusting maintenance schedules based on other contributing elements.

For example, single-use hoses may need to be changed out more frequently as the batch or product types alternate. Since these hoses are designed to be sterile upon installation and discarded after use, their maintenance schedule can be significantly different than other hoses. In biopharma applications, single-use hoses are quickly becoming the norm for a variety of liquid transfer processes. A supplier like Liquidyne can work with the manufacturing facility to source, select, and pre-cut single-use hoses to minimize downtime during a changeover.

For all hoses, single or multi-use, maintenance frequency also depends on choosing the correct hose for the application in the first place and performing the right pump and hose set up.

In biopharma manufacturing, chemical and material compatibility are crucial, as some materials may leach or react chemically with certain substances. PTFE hose liners react with fluorine, chlorine trifloride, and molten alkali metals. This hose type should not be used in processes involving these materials. Additionally, when PTFE lined hoses are used to transport chlorine or bromine, diffusion becomes a concern. Once the chemicals have diffused through the hose, they combine with moisture in the atmosphere and cause severe corrosion. Corroflon hoses are a better choice for these kinds of applications. The technicalities around hose compatibility can be intimidating. When in doubt, the best course of action is consulting with the supplier or manufacturer directly for a recommendation.

Physical setup is also essential to hose life. Hoses should be cut and fit correctly for the application. End fittings must be appropriately connected to mating parts, and hoses should not be set up in a way that causes kinking, torsion, external corrosion, or frequent abrasion. Although each of these set up errors might not cause a failure immediately, they compromise the hose’s integrity over time and result in more frequent maintenance and replacement.

During use, hoses should also be handled with as much care as possible. Stretching or crushing a hose can damage the hose’s overall lifespan, even for a short period. If it is necessary to insert an object into the hose, for cleaning or other purposes, it is essential that the inserted object does not have any sharp edges or burs that could damage the interior surface. For cyclical applications where gasses and fluids are passed through the hose during temperature and/or pressure changes, more frequent maintenance and change will be required, regardless of the hose material. All hose types fail quickly under these circumstances, and manufacturers should plan maintenance schedules accordingly.

If hoses are chosen, set up, and used correctly, manufacturers typically provide a maintenance plan based on expected wear and tear. For Aflex Hose, they recommend a visual inspection once per month. These inspections should check for visible leaks, bubbles caused by internal leaks on rubber-lined hoses, and any change in physical characteristics that could indicate hose damage or imminent failure. Every six months, Aflex Hose recommends a more robust inspection. However, they offer this inspection to Aflex customers, and a supplier like Liquidyne can help coordinate with the manufacturer on both predictive and preventative maintenance best practices.

Properly selected and adequately maintained hoses will enable efficient, effective, safe, and contamination-free transfer of materials for biopharma and other manufacturing from start to finish. The rules for hose maintenance aren’t very different than general maintenance best practices: choose the right tool for the application, ensure proper use and installation, follow the manufacturer’s suggestion for inspection and replacement. For any additional concerns, Liquidyne is available to consult and design custom solutions for specific applications, from choosing the correct hose to providing a reliable supply chain for all future hose and hose assembly needs.

Learn more about how Liquidyne Process Technologies can help support your process manufacturing needs by contacting us today! 

Single-Use VS Stainless-Steel Bioreactors for Biopharma

 
bioreactor-stainless-vs-single-use

Biopharmaceutical production equipment and technology are rapidly evolving to meet the industry’s ever-changing manufacturing, regulatory, and process engineering needs. These shifts include improvements in productivity, overall capacity, flexibility, and automation. Simultaneously, manufacturers keep in mind that facility complexity, start-up cost, maintenance expenses, and size must all be kept in balance to maintain competitive margins and pricing. Bioreactor technology is also changing to meet these new demands.

 

Initially, as with most equipment for biopharma manufacturing, bioreactors were stainless-steel. They were also typically large, holding sizable quantities of culture that produced only small amounts of product. Until recently, this was just the way things were done. Within the past decade, however, an industry-wide shift to single-use technology has caught up with bioreactors.

 

When choosing a bioreactor, most manufacturers take a variety of elements under consideration. What cell types are being cultured? Does the bioreactor need to produce mixed suspensions or adherent cell lines? Is the manufacturing facility large, with a limited number of products, or does it need to be smaller with more flexibility? How are novel therapeutic approaches that require special care for specific cell types represented by engineering? How much automation does the facility need now, and how much automation is anticipated in the future? 

 

The answers to all of these questions will vary by application and product line, but the industry overall sees a shift (over 85% adoption) to single-use equipment. Specific advantages to making this change are the same as the advantages represented by single-use technology across the board:

● Increased product line integrity, decreased cross-product contamination risks.

● Reduced cleaning and down-time during changeovers

● Lower facility set-up cost and timeline to implementation

● Smaller manufacturing footprint

● Long-term cost savings with regards to maintenance, upkeep, and downtime

● Improved facility flexibility and adaptability

 

Rising implementation of single-use systems (sometimes referred to as SUS or SUB) can be seen as a function of improved overall manufacturing processes. More than a decade ago, the production of as little as 100kg/year of a monoclonal antibody, for example, might have necessitated the use of several large stainless-steel bioreactors and equivalently sized equipment. However, with innovations in these and similar processes, the same or higher quantities can be produced with much smaller single-use bioreactors at a lower cost and a quicker turn-around time.

 

The flexibility these single-use systems provide is also vital for the rapidly evolving nature of the industry. Rather than spending time and money setting up a system that may only work for a limited number of product runs, single-use equipment allows for constant re-imagining of the manufacturing process. This often leads to cost savings and an enhanced ability to keep up with changing regulatory demands.

 

Still, not all manufacturers are on board with switching to single-use systems. Main concerns around single-use bioreactors are derived from the same questions asked earlier, including:

● Issues with bag breakage and loss of product

● Leaching of material into the manufacturing stream

● Cost of disposable replacements

● Compatibility with process fluids

● Production volume

 

These factors are heavily determined by cell culture and product requirements. For example, single-use bioreactors are currently limited to use with mammalian cells. Stainless-steel systems also have much larger capacities. Multiple single-use systems can be organized to run in parallel and produce products at prices and quantities that are still competitive. However, some of the most extensive facilities using stainless-steel equipment, if engineered correctly, can make the same quantities of products at a lower cost.

 

Some specific types of biopharma manufacturing, like microbial bioprocessing, have also not converted to single-use systems. These processes typically require equipment that can accommodate higher temperatures, a more comprehensive range of pressures, and increased mixing capacity than what single-use equipment currently offers.

 

Legacy manufacturers still using stainless-steel equipment and seeing acceptable profit margins are not likely to shift to single-use technologies without a significant reason to do so. Some, however, are starting to introduce single-use bioreactors alongside their stainless-steel counterparts. This solution provides the best of both worlds for these manufacturers, enhancing flexibility and decreasing maintenance costs while maintaining the high production volumes they have relied on.

 

Studies comparing single-use and stainless-steel bioreactors provide strong evidence for this mentality. Across the board, the products created and those products’ quality are comparable between the two equipment types. Therefore, both systems can typically be used interchangeably on an as-needed basis without the requirement for intensive testing.

Learn more about how Liquidyne Process Technologies can help support your process manufacturing needs by contacting us today! 

 

Continuous Manufacturing Challenges the Pharmaceutical Industry to Improve

 
continuous-manufacturing-biopharmacetucal-pharmaceutical

Technology innovation often causes a domino effect, regardless of which industry is experiencing process improvement and change. Updates in one area highlight the flaws in other aspects, pushing engineers to develop new solutions to old problems. Biopharmaceutical manufacturing is no exception to this rule. With advances in automation, single-use equipment, and an increased expectation for flexibility, process engineers have begun to examine the wisdom of traditional batch manufacturing.

In the past, batch manufacturing has been the gold standard for the pharmaceutical industry. Despite the rapid adoption of continuous manufacturing in other sectors, biopharma has stubbornly clung to a batch mentality. Often, what this means for the production process, is that biologics and other products are created in a stepwise manner. Once one step, or batch, is completed, the next starts. This can cause a bottleneck and corresponding delay in the time it takes to produce biologics from start to finish. Sometimes these delays are short (hours), but sometimes these delays take days or even weeks, potentially harming product integrity.

Estimates indicate that this manufacturing technique could be costing the pharmaceutical industry around $50 billion each year. In the current economic climate, this number is staggering and demands serious attention. But what alternatives do pharmaceutical manufacturing companies have? And what challenges face manufacturers who move away from batching?

Continuous manufacturing is the growing trend that is on pace to replace batching. As the name implies, this technique requires constant momentum, moving biologics, and ingredients directly from one step of manufacturing to the next. When continuous manufacturing is done well, no hold or wait time, and operations run 24/7 to produce products. It begins with raw materials and stops only when the endpoint of the process is reached. Because of this, there is rarely a need to shut down equipment, reducing time to completion, costs, and improving quality control. Continuous manufacturing promises drug production in as little as a day, compared to the exaggerated timeline associated with batch manufacturing.

Implementing and utilizing continuous manufacturing is not without challenges, however. There are broad industry concerns regarding the material robustness of parts in terms of equipment, especially replaceable elements (like pump hoses) over time. With the shift to single-use technology, this issue is at the forefront for some manufacturers because single-use equipment largely relies on these replaceable parts to function. Additionally, continuous manufacturing requires facilities to step up operations in almost every way. Continuous manufacturing necessitates more sensors with high accuracy, integration of equipment with these sensors to enable automation, and a more robust supply chain to handle the constant demand associated with consistent manufacturing efforts. Many technologies are being developed to meet these needs but may require more work before they are robust enough to displace their batch counterparts. These issues add up to a potentially large price tag associated with going batch-less.

Another issue worth considering is the difficulty in tracking product integrity in a continuous manufacturing system. With batches, it’s easy to track down the step where a product was compromised and issue a recall, if necessary, based on that step. Without batches, recalls rely heavily on sensors and automation to identify contamination.

The FDA and many manufacturers believe that technology is at a place to overcome these challenges, however. And with good reason – the advantages of continuous manufacturing are substantial when done correctly.

Some estimates suggest that continuous manufacturing could reduce workforce, product deviation, and manufacturing footprint by greater than fifty percent. Continuous manufacturing facilities also use around forty percent less power and have a quicker setup and scale-up time frame. Overall, switching to continuous processes may improve efficiency, manufacturing robustness, and enhance quality control while reducing waste and cost inputs. These systems are also more flexible, becoming a vital feature of the market’s most competitive manufacturing facilities.

To capture these advantages, choosing the right equipment is essential. Pumps, for example, vary in reliability over time depending on type and hose quality. Peristaltic pumps tend to experience rapid hose wear, but advances in hose material reduce some of these concerns, as with the GORE® STA-PURE® Pump Tubing, Series PCS. This tubing shows reduced failures even after 90 days of continuous operation. Quaternary diaphragm pumps by Quattroflow eliminate the concern around tube wear entirely by introducing a gentle, pulsing flow enabled by differential pressure in each of the chambers rather than active mechanical forcing of product through the pump.

Single-use technologies may also be better suited for continuous manufacturing processes in general, as their longevity is equal to the task. These equipment types reduce downtime between production runs, which is critical in maintaining flexibility if a facility anticipates sequential continuous manufacturing of more than one product type.

Like Liquidyne, who can help to choose the equipment best suited for specific production needs, identifying a distributor is important when considering a switch from batch manufacturing to continuous.

Learn more about how Liquidyne Process Technologies can help support your process manufacturing needs by contacting us today! 

 

 

From Fear to Innovation, Process Engineering for Biopharma

 
From-fear-to -innovation-process-engineering-for-biopharma

“Innovation” is one of the most prevalent buzzwords that companies across all industries use to describe themselves and their company culture. From mission statements to brand and positioning, Biopharmaceutical companies are no exception to this rule. When the curtain is pulled back, however, there are critical areas in which the biopharma industry has been slow to innovate and where it must change to thrive moving forward. Of crucial importance is the resistance to innovation and improvement seen in manufacturing process engineering. The industry seems to be hamstrung by the fear of progress and the lack of desire to embrace the digital, agile, and demanding future. Continued resistance to these types of changes will inevitably lead to increased costs, lower profit, and loss of business opportunities in the worst-case scenario. 

With all this at stake, it’s essential to understand why this internal conflict exists. Historically, more traditional industries like biopharmaceutical manufacturing are slower to adopt new processes and digitization. Often, these kinds of changes can be seen as more risk than they are worth. The mentality is something like, “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” The trouble with this thinking is that it ignores the problem, waiting until the damage has been done to make a move.

Strict cost controls are one of the factors contributing to innovation paralysis. Biopharmaceutical manufacturers are primarily concerned with creating a quality product within a specified timeframe. They are less concerned with the process efficiencies or manufacturing costs unless an apparent problem arises with product profitability. Why risk making a change that might do more harm than good? While this is an understandable position (difference equals risk, after all), it doesn’t allow for growth and improvement in areas where process engineering can thrive. 

Another issue is found in the lack of desire to embrace new technology. Advances in digital have happened rapidly in the last several years, leaving some biopharma manufacturers in the dust or with digital whiplash. Many manufacturers are still bogged down by paper and spreadsheet-based analytics and tools. These manual processes are less accurate and more prone to error than data collected using sensors and other digital means. Disconnected data sources can also lead to what’s known as data silos – disparate sources of information that cannot be easily compared, contrasted, and analyzed to identify relevant trends and specific places for improvement.  

Socially created information silos often mirror these digital data silos. In many biopharmaceutical manufacturing companies, there is not enough cross-department communication. These conversations between R&D chemists and process engineers are vital for sparking informed innovation to existing processes. From start to finish, a full understanding of what is required for accurate, efficient manufacturing of products must become a standard part of the system to construct positive changes within the industry. 

If biopharma manufacturers can overcome these hurdles and step into what’s been termed “Pharma 4.0,” there are significant advantages available.

For example, enhanced flexibility will mean that manufacturers will be able to take advantage of innovative technologies more quickly. Advances in cell and gene therapies, among others, and new FDA guidelines require manufacturers to pivot and adapt more rapidly than ever before. A facility that can’t handle a variety of products or which can’t adhere to the strict quality standards the industry is held to will likely see an increase in cost and an eventual loss of customers to competitors better suited to meet these demands. On the other hand, a facility that is comfortable with innovation will be able to continuously improve product development, save costs, and remain highly competitive. This has been seen frequently through the ways companies have approached the COVID 19 crisis – companies that adapt, evolve and demonstrate agility have experienced more profitability and stability during times of economic uncertainty.

According to research, digitizing just the supply chain portion of manufacturing can boost revenue by close to 10% and result in a similar increase in market valuation. Cost savings like these are available in almost every aspect of biopharma manufacturing as processes are improved, and data are moved to a more Internet of Things (IoT) friendly approach. Companies that invested in these upgraded, digital solutions tend to benefit from better inventory management, enhanced fulfillment processes, lessened data issues, increased productivity, and generally improved relationships with customers and vendors.

Overall the message seems clear – the industry must step out of its way and embrace change and innovation if manufacturers want to keep up with modern demands.

Learn more about how Liquidyne Process Technologies can help support your process manufacturing needs by contacting us today! 

Could COVID Be A Positive Catalyst for Biopharma Innovation?

 
covid innovation biopharma

The COVID pandemic has caused upheaval in almost every industry and has impacted individuals and businesses in dramatic ways. Most of what is in the news regarding this virus’s effect has been appropriately gloomy, given the cost to human life and society as a whole. What has been historically accurate of crises, though, is that they eventually drive innovation. The biopharmaceutical manufacturing industry, which has struggled to adopt process engineering changes without significant external motivation, stands to benefit tremendously from the pressure that COVID has applied to the market.

COVID 19 Biopharma Innovation

As with the race for a polio vaccine in the early 1950s, the surge in research and development related to COVID has caused a corresponding increase in collaboration. This is a return to what’s seen by some as the true “nature of science.” Rarely, if ever, do scientific discoveries happen in a vacuum. The fact that the industry has been attempting to do without collaboration has slowed innovation and thus stagnated creativity. It’s crucial that scientists and engineers, at all levels, can work together to spark change and solve problems. With any luck, this culture of collaboration will become the new normal.

Investment into biopharma initiatives has also been on the rise since the start of the pandemic, with billions of dollars pouring into COVID related research and development projects. This could imply an uptick in the value placed on these types of efforts and the stability of the biopharma manufacturing industry. Regardless of whether this trend continues after COVID’s resolution, the money invested will help facilitate improvements that will have a ripple effect for years to come.

Perhaps most importantly, though, COVID seems to be providing many manufacturers with the push needed to overcome some of the hurdles traditionally associated with making changes to process engineering and facility design. Cost, reliability, bureaucracy, and perceived risk have stopped some companies from pursuing these changes. However, in this more demanding market climate, improvements that were seen as a “nice to have” are rapidly becoming a “need to have” if manufacturers want to survive and, eventually, thrive. The overarching goal of these types of advancements, which is in alignment with industry trends before COVID became a global issue, is the industry’s need for more flexible solutions, including:

  • Smaller, decentralized facilities
  • Modular, single-use equipment
  • Improved automation
  • Enhanced supply chain management

Smaller, decentralized facilities: with the need for rapid development, production, and deployment of biopharma products, more companies embrace a less centralized approach to product manufacturing. The challenges associated with these facilities include the need for standardized training and enhanced company-wide communication. It’s also crucial to choose simple, low start-up-cost equipment to avoid extra expenses. This has caused a steady shift from stainless steel equipment to less permanent, less expensive solutions. These smaller facilities provide an advantage as they can quickly pivot to accommodate changing supply demands and production needs.

Modular, single-use equipment: single-use technology, including pumps, have been increasingly prevalent within biopharma manufacturing for the last several years. The main selling points for single-use equipment include lower cost of maintenance, quicker changeover, and more reliable product integrity. For example, the Quattroflow single-use quaternary diaphragm pump virtually eliminates cross-contamination when used correctly, and components can be switched over in as little as 30 seconds per pump. Depending on the use case, there are a variety of single-use solutions available. Having a dependable supplier who can offer guidance can be an important starting place for companies looking to make the switch.

Improved automation: to maintain production quality and enhance overall facility reliability, biopharma has been pressured for years to ride the Internet of Things (IoT) wave. Sensors, data collection, and feedback loops provide greater insight into every step of the manufacturing process. Pumps with this kind of automation are increasingly available for various uses and often can be customized depending on the application.

Enhanced supply chain management: a recent study of biopharma executives showed that unreliable supply chains are the main concern for many manufacturers. COVID revealed, for many companies, inherent instability within their inventory management and procurement systems. Automation and data-driven solutions for inventory are available and can provide facilities with improved optics and greater control over critical manufacturing inputs. Implementing these solutions may help avoid similar issues in the future. As facilities switch to single-use equipment, having a supplier who can consistently ensure demand is met is also essential. Building that relationship ahead of a crisis is ideal, but many suppliers are eager to earn trust during this tumultuous time.

Overall, there is hope on the horizon for biopharmaceutical manufacturing in a post-COVID world. If the industry chooses to see this crisis as a chance to adapt and grow, it is probable that innovations will be made in leaps and bounds. These improvements will likely have a positive, long-lasting effect on increasing productivity, maintaining quality, and enhancing profitability for manufacturers of all sizes.

Learn more about how Liquidyne Process Technologies can help support your process manufacturing needs by contacting us today! 

Why Preventive Maintenance (PM) is Critical for Pharmaceutical Manufacturing

 
preventative-maintenance-pharmaceutical-manufacturing

Reliable pharmaceutical manufacturing begins with dedicated equipment. A well-maintained facility with functional machinery is, obviously, more productive than a poorly maintained facility with frequent machine failure. Equipment malfunction can lead to issues like batch contamination, safety concerns, and decreased overall site functionality. Despite this clear connection, many manufacturers struggle to develop and keep up with a maintenance strategy that works for all equipment types within the facility.

There are three* major approaches to maintenance, predictive, preventive, and corrective:

PredictivePreventiveCorrective
ApproachUses root-cause analysis and advanced tools to stay ahead of facility maintenance needsUses manuals and manufacturer recommendations to set best practices and maintenance expectationsRelies on real-time problem solving and periodic maintenance to correct facility issues as-needed basis.
SchedulingCustom, predictive schedules are developed based on equipment criticality, and specific maintenance needs (often created based on failure analysis)Schedules are pre-determined by either set periods or specific equipment maintenance guidelinesUses a standard program for all equipment, if any maintenance is scheduled ahead of time (often monthly or quarterly, regardless of failure analysis)
Major equipment failureAims to avoid significant equipment issues by proactively addressing issues before they escalate or create problems with other, connected pieces of equipmentAims to prevent significant equipment issues by proactively addressing issues before they escalate or develop problems with other, related articles of equipmentCorrects problems with equipment as these problems arise, frequently on an emergency or “fire-drill” basis, which can result in compounding process deficiencies
CostFacilitates predictable, lower maintenance costs by streamlining processes, allocating labor, and reducing downtimeIf the established schedule works as intended, preventative plans can also result in predictable, lower maintenance costs by simplifying processes, allocating labor, and reducing downtimeUnpredictable, high maintenance costs and increased downtime which is often compounded by multiple system failures as a result of a critical malfunction

*While predictive maintenance plans technically fall under the umbrella of preventative maintenance, they have been separated here to highlight the essential efficiency gains available with a predictive approach

Relying on predictive or, at least, preventive care is crucial for any company looking to maximize productivity and reliability while improving safety, reducing cost, and remaining competitive. Once a facility has decided to utilize preventative maintenance as a strategy, implementation becomes a key concern. What is the right tool for the job? What will track maintenance reliably without creating more work for supervisors or general laborers?

The best solution is to use a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS). These programs replace the combination of spreadsheets and equipment manuals that have traditionally been utilized to keep up with equipment needs. A good CMMS should be accessible on any device and extremely user friendly. Additionally, geolocation, compatibility with other “smart” systems in the facility, and analytical tools to continuously adapt the maintenance schedule based on actual equipment failures are essential features.

When getting set up with a CMMS, the facility will need to identify key performance indicators (KPIs) to use as a basis for measuring failures and improving maintenance schedules. Analysis should be done to determine the common causes of these failures. Historical data on required interventions and equipment life-cycle should also be collected and taken into consideration.

Because all facilities utilize a unique set of technologies, there is no one-size-fits-all preventive or predictive maintenance strategy. However, a successful program will reduce equipment downtime and improve operations and reliability at every stage of the manufacturing process.

Learn more about how Liquidyne Process Technologies can help support your process manufacturing needs by contacting us today! 

A Guide to Choosing the Right Pump for Biopharma & Pharmaceutical Manufacturing

 

Choosing the right pump type for Biopharmaceutical and Pharmaceutical manufacturing can be a daunting task. There are many factors to consider, and some design elements may eliminate a pump that would otherwise seem like the right choice. To provide a high-level overview of the pump types available, the table below breaks down the most common pump types and describes some important factors to understand.  

Pump Type Description Recommended Applications Cost Single- Use? 
Quaternary Diaphragm Modeled after the human heart, quaternary diaphragm pumps move liquid through a series of chambers using gentle rotation and constant flow Designed specifically to move sensitive biological products, these pumps are widely used in biopharma applications. They avoid many of the issues caused by other common pump types, such as shear, heat buildup and inconsistent flow $$ Yes 
Peristaltic Also known as hose pumps, fluid is moved through a hose by pressure and release as a rotor turns A prevalent pump type, peristaltic pumps are found in most industries where fluid transfer is required. Hose compatibility and flow rates are the main concern when using peristaltic pumps $$$ Yes 
Centrifugal Centrifugal pumps function by transferring rotational energy generated by at least one rotor, also called an impeller Capable of moving all sorts of liquids, centrifugal pumps are found in a wide range of industries. They are better suited to low viscosity liquids and can have sealing, shear and heating issues $$ No 
Lobe A lobe pump creates fluid motion through two rotating elements, called lobes. As the lobes rotate, fluid is pushed around them as a function of changing available volume Lobe pumps are widely used to move sensitive fluids, especially highly viscous materials or products containing solids. There is some tendency towards slippage, leakage or risk of external contamination $$$ No 
Piston Piston pumps are positive displacement pumps. The up and down motion of the piston creates pressure differentials that move fluid forward These pumps are used frequently with medium pressure applications moving lower viscosity liquids. Piston pumps can have pulsation issues as well as creating potentially damaging shear $$$$ No 

 

When considering cost, estimated price levels are based on the total cost of ownership, and a few factors have been considered. These include initial cost, maintenance frequency and level of complexity, replacement parts and equipment longevity.  

Evaluating whether a single-use or multi-use pump is most appropriate for the application largely depends on the facility setup. All pumps listed above as single-use also have multi-use versions available on the market. Quattroflow’s quaternary diaphragm pumps are exceptional in that their single-use pumps can be converted in place to a multi-use configuration.  

Additional factors, not listed above, should also be taken into careful consideration. For example, are the product or products, especially temperature or pH sensitive? Will a higher shear rate damage the biologics? Are there specific speed, pressure, or flow requirements for the facility? What are the viscosity and specific gravity of the fluids, and how might that affect pump operation? Although complicated, selecting the right pump can have an extremely beneficial impact on operations, costs and efficiency. 

Practical Advantages to Diaphragm Pumps for Biologics

 

There are several vital components of biologics manufacturing that require the use of pumps. In each of these steps there are technology opportunities to either improve or hinder operational efficacy, efficiency, and quality control. While one type of pump may work for one process, it may not be the optimal choice for every process and may negatively affect different areas uniquely. A single pump, capable of handling various factors, is the ideal choice for facility simplicity and cost optimization.   

The general theme of these requirements fit into just a few categories:  

  • Flow: ideally, a pump should create low to no pulsation and be able to accommodate a variety of flow ranges with accuracy and control  
  • Pressure: pumps used for biologics manufacturing need to adapt to a range of pressures  
  • Product integrity: sensitive materials are easily damaged by pumps that generate shear, heat, or contribute contaminants to the product stream. This is not specific to any one process but is key to overall product integrity.  

When looking at chromatography columns, the primary concern is often maintaining high, constant flow rates. These columns are typically glass, steel, or plastic tubes filled with substances through which the biologic flows to capture or purify the product. The filter media is often quite expensive, and the right pump is key to maintaining the balance required for optimal function.  

Tangential flow filtration (TFF) also requires constant, controllable flow rates. This process functions by moving fluid alongside (tangentially, as the name implies) a filter media. TFF allows filtration to take place without the same fouling associated with normal-flow, or “dead-end” filtration by flowing across a membrane rather than through it. It also means that TFF can function continuously, even with relatively high solids load, if the flow remains steady.  

Another type of separation, virus filtration, uses a membrane to filter out particles of a particular size. Because the membrane can become fouled with solids, it is critical that the pump used in this process can manage changes, especially increases, in pressure. As with chromatography columns and TFF, virus filtration depends on reliable, controlled flow rates.  

A relatively new aspect of biologics production, inline blending, is another place where pump performance can impact manufacturing processes. Liquid ingredients, blended by simple combination within a single manifold, are mixed as they are transferred. This is also known as inline mixing or continuous blending and is becoming the new best practice for rapid, continuous production facilities. Because the components are combined in line, this process requires excellent flow control in the blend manifold and in the metering of products entering the stream.  

Lobe pumps and peristaltic pumps, often used in pharmaceutical and biologics manufacturing, prove problematic when their limitations are compared to the requirements presented by the processes above. The risks include slip, shear, heat addition, contamination via mechanical seals, degraded pump material and flow issues associated with solids handling or process restarts with lobe pumps. While peristaltic pump technology has improved, they still cause pulsing flow and have limited flow capacity and flow control. There’s also a risk of peristaltic pump tubing dissolving and affecting product purity, though these risks can sometimes be mitigated with proper tube material selection for each application.  

Quattroflow Quaternary Diaphragm Pump
Quattroflow Quaternary Diaphragm Pump

Another pump type that sees wide adoption for all biologics processes is the quaternary diaphragm pump by Quattroflow. First invented in the late 1980s, the quaternary diaphragm pump was designed to address the specific issues associated with chromatography and TFF. Inspired by the human heart, these pumps gently move fluid through four chambers using subtle rotation and positive displacement. They have excellent, steady, controlled flow and are adaptable to different pressure ranges without creating shear or adding heat. Although they are suited for lower viscosity products (under 1,000 centipoise) with particles smaller than 0.1 mm in diameter, quaternary diaphragm pumps are highly versatile. They can be used in a variety of biologic applications.  

When choosing pumps for biologics, all these processes and concerns must be considered. The right pump will save money upfront, reduce maintenance costs, and minimize product damage during manufacturing. 

Learn more about how Liquidyne Process Technologies and Quattroflow Pumps can help support your biologics manufacturing by contacting us today! 

What Single-use Pump is Best for Biologics Production?

 

Manufacturing biologics is a delicate process that requires precise design and optimized equipment to run efficiently and effectively. Choosing the wrong equipment for the application can put product quality at risk, resulting in frequent and expensive maintenance, and can even cause product contamination which can ruin the entire batch. Knowing which single-use pump specifically, is the best for biologics, is key to avoiding these costly issues. First, it’s essential to understand whether a single-use or multi-use pump is best for the application. Narrowing down to a specific pump is a matter of analyzing the options and weighing the pros and cons of each. 

For all biologic production processes, single-use equipment is becoming the standard best-practice. This is due primarily to the cost savings they offer. Specifically, the advantages of single-use equipment include: 

  • Decreased cleaning and maintenance expenses: single-use equipment inherently requires no cleaning, all parts which come in contact with the biologic products are easy to replace between batches.
  • Shortened downtime during production line changeover: most single-use equipment, and single-use pumps specifically, are designed to be switched over rapidly, in as little as 30 seconds.

  • Reduced risk for batch or product contamination, increased production, and facility flexibility: single-use pumps are switched over between batches. The opportunity for contaminants to be introduced into the process is dramatically decreased, ensuring enhanced quality integrity even in a multi-product manufacturing operation.
     
  • Lowered initial capital, overhead, and operating costs: single-use pumps typically cost less than traditional, stainless steel equipment. 

These factors combine to provide a competitive advantage for all manufacturing operations, and especially for contract development and manufacturing organizations (CDMOs) or multi-product facilities.  

The question, then, is which single-use pump is best for biologics manufacturing? To maintain product integrity, pumps must offer constant, low-slip, low-shear, low-pulsing flow. If the pumps do not meet these requirements, severe damage can be done to the biologics being handled as well as filter membranes or other media. 

Traditionally, the main pump types are peristaltic (hose) pumps, lobe pumps, centrifugal pumps, and piston pumps. There are issues associated with each type. Neither lobe pumps nor piston pumps are currently offered in a single-use variety, so they’re quickly eliminated. Peristaltic pumps often do not meet the pressure requirements of biologic production facilities and are known to cause contamination and flow issues due to material degradation and release. Centrifugal pumps are available in single-use varieties, but the maintenance of this type of equipment can be complicated and costly. Additionally, centrifugal pumps demonstrate poor flow control and can cause high-shear conditions and damaging heat build-up.

An alternate pump type has been introduced to the market that stands above the rest, meeting all pump performance requirements while still being single-useQuattroflow, a part of Pump Solutions Group (PSG) developed a single-use quaternary diaphragm pump specifically, for pharmaceutical and biotech applications. Modeled after the human heart, the four diaphragms move in sequence, keeping the biologic product always in motion at the specified rate. There are no rotating parts to cause friction, and the pumps are built to maintain flow integrity even under challenging conditions. 

For all biologic applications, the single-use quaternary diaphragm pump has become the go-to solution and the gold standard for Chromatography, Virus Filtration, and Tangential Flow Filtration (TFF). Uncompromising flow and operational quality, paired with the cost advantages associated with single-use equipment, show that innovative improvements to biologic production processes are possible and that the “traditional” solutions are not always the best. 

Learn more about how Liquidyne Process Technologies and Quattroflow Pumps can help support your biologics manufacturing by contacting us today! 

What’s the Top Pump for Biologic Manufacturing?

 

Choosing a pump for biologics or pharmaceutical manufacturing can be a daunting process. There are close to 50 different, overlapping technology options that meet at least some of the needs for any given application. Narrowing down the field and picking the best pump involves understanding the risks involved with handling sensitive materials and the equipment options available. 

Top Biopharmaceutical Pumps - Quattroflow

Is the application concerned with high purity and sterility? Does it require high or low flow volume? Is the material sensitive to materials compatibility issues? What about heat and shear sensitivity? For most biologic manufacturing these questions can vary slightly but they tend to share the same requirement: pumps must operate with minimal impact on the material they are moving.

Additionally, it’s essential to understand whether single-use or multi-use equipment is necessary for facility flexibility and cost savings. Single-use technologies can reduce significant financial and operational risks associated with biologics manufacturing. And, while single-use pumps reduce downtime and increase batch consistency, the best pump may need to handle both single-use and multi-use configurations. 

With all these factors in mind, what pump types are on the market, and what are the main concerns associated with each? 

Peristaltic (Hose) Pumps: fluid is moved through a tube, via compression and release, by a rotor. Known to have limitations around flow and pressure, these pumps may also release contaminants into the product stream as the hose breaks down over time. While they are appropriate for some applications they are not necessarily the best choice for biologics. 

 Lobe Pumps: fluid is moved through the space created between two lobes as they rotate. With no single-use option available, these pumps can be costly to set up and maintain. Additionally, they tend to experience slippage and leakage as well as increasing the risk of external contamination and heat damage. Depending on the application these pumps can do significant harm to the manufacturing process and should be used only after careful consideration. 

 Centrifugal Pumps: fluid is moved by an impeller rotating. Because they are not positive displacement there is a risk of losing flow control if there’s a change to discharge conditions. Centrifugal pumps may also require expensive and time-consuming maintenance to replace the single-use components involved. They can also cause heat buildup and other issues that lead to biologic product damage or contamination. As a result, they are not commonly used in pharmaceutical processes at this time. 

 Piston Pumps: fluid is moved by piston generated suction and pressure. There are no widely available single-use choices for piston pumps at this time. This is because they are generally mechanically complex, which can lead to higher maintenance costs and manufacturing quality concerns due to equipment malfunction. They are also not a top choice for biologic production. 

 Quaternary Diaphragm Pumps: fluid is moved by four-pistons working together to enable a heartbeat-like, gentle flow. Brought to the market by Quattroflow, these pumps represent a significant improvement to pump technology. Single-use quaternary diaphragm pumps are sterile, efficient, and simple to maintain. They are available in a variety of sizes, accommodating high or low flow and pressure situations without risking damage to sensitive biologics. For facilities that require stainless steel equipment, multi-use pumps are available or single-use pumps can easily be converted over. 

 Quaternary diaphragm pumps are the clear best pump choice in biologic manufacturing. While there are advantages to each pump type there are also costly downsides. The quaternary diaphragm pumps are designed to have little to no impact on pumped materials while having a significant, beneficial impact on operating costs. This is truly a best-case scenario for most biologic manufacturing facilities.