Reduce costs through good design of industrial systems

The industrial services package includes all those services necessary for the operation of the plant that do not come into direct contact with the product and, therefore, do not require GMP quality. This does not mean they are less important and a good design in the engineering phase is essential to guarantee the proper functioning of the plant.

The key points for a good design are to define what services are necessary, calculate the requirements (productive capacity and supply conditions) and decide what degree of redundancy is given to each of them based on their criticality. Wouldn’t it be unforgivable to stop an entire pharmaceutical production line due to lack of supply of an auxiliary service? Would the costs incurred because an air compressor has broken down be bearable? Probably not.

As a general rule, we would recommend that all auxiliary services necessary for plant operations have a certain degree of redundancy that guarantees 24/7 supply. This translates into having redundant generation equipment and each of them covering more than 50% of the total capacity required under normal conditions so that, in the event of the failure of one of them, the productive capacity of the plant is affected. as little as possible. In addition, we will also be greatly facilitating maintenance tasks.

Another important point is to think about how to minimize the plant’s energy consumption to reduce costs, without penalizing the availability of services. For that we should ask ourselves some questions:

  • Is it worth changing air-condensed chillers for water-condensed chillers?
  • Is it worth changing from a constant speed air compressor to a variable speed one?
  • Is it worth converting the constant flow cooling water circuit to one with variable flow?
  • Is it worth adding heat recovery to any of the plant’s generation equipment?

Once we have this information, we can estimate the investment costs and operating costs, the savings that these changes represent, and assess how to apply resource optimization in the plant.

Returning to industrial services, the most common are (among others):

  • Industrial steam: generation of saturated steam for plant heating. It will be necessary to install one or more boilers, a pressure regulation system according to the plant requirements and a condensate collection system.
  • Chiller water: one or more chillers will be required, condensed by air or water (in this case it will also be necessary to add an entire tower water circuit), and a pumping group, which will make up the primary circuit. Then, there will be a secondary distribution circuit to the air conditioners and other points of use.
  • Heating water: an instant hot water generator or a smaller system with an accumulator and a distribution circuit to the air conditioners and other points of use will be necessary.

For both heating water and chiller water, at Klinea we recommend using variable flow systems. In addition, you could also consider working with a heat pump or using heat recovery from chillers to save energy.

  • Hot and cold sanitary water: sanitary water, both cold and hot, will be necessary on any floor for use in changing rooms, cleaning areas or generation equipment (such as a softener).
  • Softened water: the water that reaches the plant has a content of mineral salts that prevents it from being used in pharmaceutical quality. Through the use of resins, the hardness of the water is eliminated (hardness is the term used to name the presence of certain mineral salts in water, such as calcium and magnesium salts). Once decalcified, this water can be used to feed the purified water generation plant, steam boilers, direct use for rinses, etc.
  • Compressed air: it is the most universal service of the plant, since practically all the equipment will require it (movement of pistons, opening of valves, blowing, as process air, etc.). The following will be necessary: one or more compressors, a buffer tank, an air drying system (to achieve a good dew point and avoid condensation in the system), a filtering system and the distribution network. It is vital to guarantee dry and clean air throughout the installation, and, above all, absence of pressure fluctuations at consumption points.
  • Dust collection: especially in solid manufacturing plants, a lot of dust is generated that would prevent maintaining the levels of suspended particles required according to the classifications of the rooms. Usually, a centralized aspiration system is used that eliminates the dust generated from different points of the plant in a localized manner. It will be installed: a dust collector with its bag filters and solids collection, a fan capable of sucking in all the dust and a final filtration before disposing of the air.
  • Vacuum: as in the previous case, a centralized vacuum system can be installed for cleaning, in this case for occasional powder spills. This works at lower pressures than the dust collection system.

Many times, these systems are not given much importance because they are auxiliary services, but, as you have seen, a good approach in the design phase can mean great advantages once the plant is already operational in terms of energy savings and maintenance.

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