Pump Technology for Biopharma, Pushing Towards Innovation

 

Innovation is critical for improving processes and reducing costs in all industries. In pharmaceutical manufacturing, sensitive and sophisticated equipment is necessary to maintain the quality and consistency of biologics. While most pump technology is well established, there have been some recent advancements that are worth noting in the overall approach to pumping equipment and individual improvements to peristaltic, positive displacement, magnetic drive, and diaphragm pump technologies.  

One of the most significant advancements may be the trend towards single-use technologies. With considerations towards efficiency, reliability, cost savings, facility flexibility, and operational improvements, single-use technologies have been adopted by the vast majority of manufacturing facilities for at least one product line. Single-use pumps decrease cleaning and maintenance expenses, shorten the down-time required during production line changeover and significantly decrease the contamination risks associated with multi-batch or multi-use facilities. This provides a substantial competitive advantage for all biologics manufacturing, especially for contract developing and manufacturing organizations (CDMOs) and multi-product operations.  

Most pumps are also getting an Internet of Things (IoT) upgrade. More pumps with sensors and data feedback are on the market today than ever before. One particular company is designing smart pump skids with sensors and automation. These can be customized for each application.  

Peristaltic pump manufacturers are working to improve the design and adapt to the single-use trend. These pumps, which historically have had issues with pressure, flow, and tube degradation, are being upgraded to handle a broader range of pressures and sensitive products. New tube materials are also being developed to limit the contamination and operational issues associated with tubing disintegrating into the production stream.  

External circumferential piston (ECP) pumps are a new variety of positive displacement pumps. They are different from lobe pumps in that they have three rotors rather than two. This makes them more reliable, less prone to pulsing issues, and able to handle prolonged site shutdown without costly maintenance. ECP pumps are not available for single-use applications and may struggle with broader adoption as a result.  

Magnetic drive pumps have been on the market for some time but have only recently become a viable option for biologic production. The main issue with the use of these pumps has been related to heat build-up and flow control. Modern sealless magnetic drive pumps are designed to have fewer leak risks, and their re-engineered components show improved reliability and fewer flow disruptions. Single-use options have also been introduced to the market.  

Quaternary diaphragm pumps, developed and produced by Quattroflow, may be the biggest innovation in recent pump technology. These pumps are perfectly engineered for single-use or multi-use applications. The unique design is modeled after the human heart. The fluid is moved through chambers in sequence by four diaphragms. This keeps the biologic product always in motion at the ideal flow rate with no risk of leakage, friction, or heat build-up. Quaternary diaphragm pumps are available in a wide range of sizes and accommodate high or low flow and pressure environments without harming delicate biologic products.  

It is rare that new technology, in direct competition with established solutions, is introduced and widely accepted. The industry’s response to the quaternary diaphragm pump, however, has been almost universally positive. Many engineers insist that there is no competition for the quaternary diaphragm pump on the market for modern biologics and biopharma manufacturing. As Quattroflow continues to release new models and improve its original concept, these pumps will likely become the gold standard. 

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