Process Water Clean Up Gives Medical Manufacturer a Clean Bill of Health

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PROCESS WATER CLEAN UP GIVES MEDICAL MANUFACTURER CLEAN BILL OF HEALTH

PROCESS WATER CLEAN UP GIVES MEDICAL MANUFACTURER CLEAN BILL OF HEALTH

Having to deliver more than 500 million medical devices each year, this leading global manufacturer has to ensure its facility runs at optimum performance. To this end its product moulding machinery is paramount for the delivery of its high quality products. Steve Cupples, managing director of water filtration technology specialist Industrial Purification Systems (IPS) explains:

"This particular company's plastic moulding process circulates over 15 billion litres of water per year, some of which has traditionally been discarded as waste water after use in order to maintain water quality.

"However, particulate build up was fouling up the internal pipe cooling channels in the moulds which was slowing down the curing speed during production. If left, the particle build up would eventually adversely affect production capacity.

"The company had had a problem with its process water for a while. The tools used within the manufacturing process are water cooled and they were having to remove these tools regularly in order to clean them when they started to clog up.  This was proving to be costly in time, money and lost production.

 

"They had never had any filtration in the main plant other than traditional strainers, and the water was very murky. They did have small filters installed on the individual machines. However, the filters themselves were blocking up so regularly that when they blocked they just threw them out and put in new ones, which was proving to be costly in terms of replacement value and man hours.

 

 "It became patently apparent that the company needed water filtration right at the ‘heart' of the processing facility, this being the main plant which houses the two water processing systems.

 

"The company approached us and we installed our new filtration technology, a CrossFlow AMF 300, along with an integrated tank change over system.  This enabled the one CrossFlow AMF filter to clean up both of the two systems in turn, using the same filter unit.

 

"The company found that this new filtration technology worked extremely well, removing all the built up silt and contamination. They actually told me that it was the first time they had been able to see the bottom of the tanks since the tanks were installed some years ago.

 

 "There are two main considerations with this type of high speed injection moulding process where the client can make significant gains. The first is that the process water that was previously being thrown away, often with expensive chemicals and chiller energy, is now being filtered to a very high specification of less than 0.45 micron which is smaller than most bacteria. The water is then re-circulated so this saves both fresh water make up costs and effluent discharge costs.

 

"The second benefit, and not one easily appreciated at first, is that the normal fouling of the mould in production is not only inconvenient, as it has to be removed from the production line before being manually cleaned and/or replaced, but there is always the concern of producing products that are not cured correctly or in fact having to slow down production to ensure correct curing takes place; and all of this due to murky (but not dirty) looking water.

 

 "When you consider such situations, we estimate return on capital can be a little as three months after taking into account water costs, cooling energy, unplanned machine stoppages, maintenance and the associated labour. All these contribute to the bottom line so it has to make sense to clean up process water to improve profitability and reduce a company's overall carbon footprint.

 

"The installation was top quality and to those that may question such an investment I would say that to protect the £millions worth of equipment that this company has in order to maintain its leading global position, an investment of a few £thousand to do so is tiny in comparison.

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