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! 

Why Preventive Maintenance (PM) is Critical for 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:

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!