When compressed air comes into direct contact with a product, many applications believe their “standard” particulate and coalescing oil-removing filters, installed either side of a compressed air dryer, are sufficient to protect the downstream processes. Strangely enough, the removal of bacteria is often overlooked, despite this level of filtration being readily available, easy to procure, install and maintain.
This article is intended to show the relationships between risks and specifications, opportunities and responsibility in validation, and in particular, the use of modern and calibrated measurement technology in the sample chain.
Outsourcing maintenance agreements for compressed air systems is commonplace in the food and beverage industry. The maintenance programs are often performed by air compressor distributors, who are experts in the specifics of the air compressors and compressed air systems they sell and service.
Blood plasma is an indispensable resource in the production of life-saving medicines. It is also in high demand on global markets. To make more efficient use of this valuable commodity, Biotest AG developed a new large-scale production plant in Dreieich, Germany, for plasma fractionation capable of obtaining five instead of the previous three products from a single liter of blood plasma. As part of its strategy, Biotest AG worked with Festo to standardize automation components used at the plant, resulting in simplified installation and maintenance.
In modern and industrial work settings, people spend more than 90% of their time in enclosed spaces, such as warehouses, office buildings and factories. In most indoor environments, the air contains a variety of chemical and microbial particles, commonly defined as indoor pollutants, which can severely affect human health and product quality (1). Industries like food and beverage, medical devices and pharmaceutical manufacturers rely on their scheduled compliance testing to confirm the presence or absence of issues in workflow pipelines that are detrimental to the daily output and safety of the product.
This article will focus on ISO8573-7 normative test methods and analysis for viable microbiological contaminants and how it can be fundamentally utilized in compressed air microbial monitoring plans. The quality of the compressed air must be monitored periodically to fulfill national and international standards. ISO 8573 is an available standard addressing compressed air quality. It consists of nine parts that address purity classes, specifications, and procedures. ISO 8573-7:2003, can be utilized across all industries’ compressed air microbial monitoring plans. It contains both informative and normative procedures but lacks any tested compressed air microbial specifications regarding colony enumeration limits for microbial plate counts.
A pharmaceutical plant, has had a compressed air assessment performed on two plant systems. The studies uncovered poor compressed air production efficiency, high air dryer loss, and problems with high flow compressed air uses negatively affecting plant pressure. The plant implemented energy efficiency measures, on the two compressed air systems, saving 46 and 64 percent in energy costs respectively.
A pharmaceutical product manufacturer spends an estimated \$137,443 annually on electricity to operate the oil-free air compressors in its compressed air system. The compressed air system operates well and is providing the level of purification required. Our team visited the plant and identified a group of projects which could reduce compressed air demand and reduce energy costs by \$42,248 – or 31% of current use.
A large pharmaceutical company needed huge flow rates of 30 psig air to aerate multiple fermentation processes which create food-grade materials. Flow could vary from about 12,000 scfm to 35,000 scfm. There were a variety of batch processes, mostly running independently. An hour-by-hour schedule for anticipated air flow is developed every afternoon for the next day. Based on that schedule, the boiler operators run the air compressors that can handle the load range for the whole day. In reality, the peak flow can be higher than anticipated.
Compressed Air Best Practices® Magazine interviewed Mr. Warwick Rampley, the National Sales Manager for Sydney (Australia) based, Basil V.R. Greatrex Pty Ltd.
It’s not every day one is asked to deliver a system able to provide both a reliable compressed air dew point of -80°C (-112°F) and high purity nitrogen. We work with some excellent technology suppliers and have engineered a rather interesting system. Although our firm was founded in 1919, this application is one of the most demanding we’ve encountered. Basil V.R. Greatrex is a unique company as we focus only on compressed air measurement, compressed air quality and compressed air efficiency.
Compressed air is used in a number of processes in the food industry. It is used as an ingredient in whipped products such as ice cream, to slice or cut soft products and to open packages
before filling of product. Currently, food manufacturers are under pressure to validate the safety of all ingredients or processes for regulatory compliance, but unfortunately, there is currently no standard method to evaluate the microbial content of compressed air.