Plasma Industries Belgium processes around 1.2 million litres of human blood plasma per year, breaking down the individual proteins for use in therapeutic and clinical analysis products via ‘fractionation’. This is a complex process that must maintain the strictest hygiene throughout each stage.
Transitioning the plasma and process additives between each vessel in such an environment creates its own challenges. The flexible connections required at these transfer positions are potential points of contamination, and this issue was causing some concern for Plasma Industries.
The traditional clamped connection between a filter aid hopper and the manhole hat at the top of the processing vessel (shown left) was very difficult for Plasma Industries’ staff to mount and dismount, due to a slight variation in diameter of the connection.
A gasket glued to the bottom of the hopper as part of this connection was frequently loosened during the changeover and would fall into the vessel below. This posed a real risk of filter aid leakage into the clean-room environment, as well as expensive product contamination in the processing vessel beneath.
Project Engineer for Plasma Industries, Kristof Greens, was keen to find a solution to this ongoing problem that was both easy to fit, and 100% sealed.
“It often took two people to fit the old connector in place, and despite our best efforts, the gasket loosened and occasionally fell into the vessel below. There was just no way of catching it in such an awkward position” said Greens.
BFM®’s local distributor, Insolids BV, were called in to provide an alternative solution to the traditional ill-fitting hose clamp connection.
They immediately suggested BFM® fitting - a patented snap-fit flexible connection that consists of a connector with silicon snap rings at either end, and two corresponding spigots that are welded to each end of the connecting pipework.
In Plasma Industries’ case, BFM® stainless steel spigots were installed at the connecting points of the filter aid hopper and the manhole hat of the processing vessel. A transparent Seeflex 020E connector is now fitted between the two pieces of equipment (left).
The custom BFM® top and bottom spigots means the connector can now be easily snap-fitted into the correct position by one operator.
The exact fit and resulting 100% seal means there is no longer any difficulty in installing the connector, and no risk of any product leakage into the clean-room. This has improved production downtime, and the one-piece snap-fit connector also removes the risk of dropping any clamp components into the processing vessel.
“By removing the difficult clamping system, the BFM® fitting has made huge improvement in terms of handling our changeovers. It’s much easier for us to physically replace the connector now – it only takes one person a few seconds and we know it’s always going to be correctly fitted in exactly the right position” Greens enthused.
“The BFM® has also given us so much more confidence in terms of maintaining our strict clean-room hygiene. There’s no risk of product leakage or dropping of clamp components into the processing vessels during changeovers. Brilliant!”
Case Study courtesy of BFM® distributor Insolids (Benelux Region)
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