Part 2: Product Recovery: Untangling Spaghetti
August 31, 2022
Single-use technology is now the go-to choice for the majority of new processes. In its most basic form, it is a simple flexible tube connecting two parts of a process together. In its most complex form, a single-use system is a collection of tubes, and connectors linking multiple inputs with multiple outputs using flexible biocontainers to hold volumes of various fluids including the process fluid. It adds sensors to monitor critical process parameters, it includes purification technologies such as filters into the flow path and integrates with external components that may include pumps, valves and external sensors. Some of these systems, without the right hardware and design consideration can look like a plate of spaghetti, and handle like an untamed octopus!
Taming that octopus and untangling that spaghetti is essential to guard against system failures that may originate from manual handling errors or misuse, and to avoid preventable product losses stuck in the random pile of tubing. For some processes these risks and losses may be acceptable, but as the value of the fluid increases these losses become less acceptable and more visible.
There are solutions.
1) Whatever the system and whatever the process, purpose designed system management hardware provides a firm foundation for operation and effectively immobilizes our octopus. The ultimate application of such a solution includes shadow-board style templates that not only hold the system but also simultaneously informs the installation procedure. Usability, making an operator’s life as easy as possible, guards against random handling errors, protects the system by limiting manipulation and controls physical variables to make SOPs that lead to repeatable, documented processes. Taking the concept further, such shadow boards can include external controls and monitoring. Our shadow board now becomes an automated system that manages the operation of the systems.
2) Other systems may be simply too complex, too hard to handle or even just too heavy to pack in a single container. Even if this were possible, this is then just a plate of spaghetti inside a bag, inside another bag, in a box. So intelligent system design segments the system into separate, manageable elements. These can then be connected using robust, sterile connection technology with each element being held on the shadow board to make the connection even easier.
3) Using a shadow board style physical control, we can reliably control the precise orientation of every tube and location of every connection. With this control, the right design can assure an optimal flow path including the ability to recover the content of the system. Simple design features such as inclined flow paths naturally support free-draining systems using gravity, and the right operating sequence ensures the same high product recovery each time.
These simple solutions can be applied to any point in the process but become increasingly important for the more critical unit operations, as the volume of the process fluid reduces and as the value of the fluid increases.
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Giridaran Ganesan, Global Product Manager- Modular Bioprocess Systems
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