The requirements placed on the service life, reliability and functionality of applied valves in process technology – especially in the pharmaceutical and food industries – are increasing all the time. Bürkert Fluid Control Systems has taken on this challenge and invested in a multi-medium testing facility.
Thanks to the multi-medium testing facility, products up to orifice DN 100 can now be fully tested, as the facility enables realistic process simulations for cleaning and sterilisation processes. The tests are performed automatically according to previously defined test conditions. Temperatures, pressure ranges, number of cycles and switching times of the valves can be defined and programmed for various media. The test procedures are based on current Bürkert standards as well as relevant standards and regulations, e.g. ASME BPE Appendix K, and the international standard on how to design and build equipment and systems used in the production of biopharmaceuticals. However, application-specific test procedures are also possible. The realistic durability and long-term tests in extreme and limited conditions also provide a good basis for further optimisation of the reliability, durability and service life of all components that come into contact with the medium.
What is tested?
The cleaning and sterilisation processes within the multi-medium testing facility are achieved through the use of various test media. These include purified and ozonised water, acids and caustics in various concentrations, pure steam, compressed air, vacuum and other compatible application-specific media. The media sequence can be defined separately in the six test chambers.
This results in almost unlimited possibilities for the test scenarios and allows tests to be carried out as close to the real application conditions as possible. The optional recording and documentation of test parameters serves to verify the test procedure.
AstraZeneca saves time and space with Bürkert process controls
Creating a pharmaceutical manufacturing suite is a complex task that is governed by a host of standards and specifications. For the AstraZeneca manufacturing plant in North Ryde, Sydney, Australia, the decision to change its primary supplier of process control valves to Bürkert, reduced installation and commissioning costs while also improving process data availability.
The world-class AstraZeneca manufacturing facility in North Ryde has recently been expanding and increasing its production facilities for a respiratory medication that is used to control and treat symptoms caused by asthma. This involves batch processes that consume large volumes of water for injection (WFI) and has a need for both clean in place (CIP) and steam in place (SIP) processes.
Making an introduction
The aim of this latest expansion is to fully automate and modernise the production process as well as increasing efficiency and safety – whilst also meeting the strictest pharmaceutical standards. The project involved three solution preparation suites where the active ingredient is combined with WFI and other ingredients to create a batch of medication. Once the batch has been discharged from the storage containers, either CIP or SIP processes are used to clean the production pipework and vessels, ready for the next batch.
Ryan Orbell, National Segment Manager – Hygienic, for Bürkert in Australia explains: “The project was already specified and quoted when we became aware of it, however I knew Bürkert could offer improved functionality and save on installation time compared to the products that had been specified. I contacted the project team at AstraZeneca to explain how Bürkert could deliver a more effective solution.”
Creating bespoke components
During the meeting, Ryan explained about the benefits of a decentralised control solution using Bürkert’s intelligent automated valve control heads with a fieldbus communication network. The aim was to introduce a decentralised control structure, which would not require the use of pneumatic valve islands.
This system format would minimise wiring, installation and commissioning costs as well as providing more information about the manufacturing process itself. One of the attractive points for AstraZeneca was the ultra-bright LED optical lighting on the valve control heads, which offers operators a clear visual status indication at a glance.
This is a standard feature on the Type 8691 control head which is designed for use with ELEMENT Type 21xx process valves. The powerful LEDs provide the status of the valve – green for open, amber for closed and red for a communications error. However, this sequence did not match with the existing SCADA system operator interface already installed on the site.
The engineering team at AstraZeneca asked if the colour sequence could be changed to match theirs. The immediate reply from Bürkert was to put a request into the Systemhaus design team in Germany. Bürkert’s Systemhaus facilities develop new engineering solutions, from concept, costing and development all the way to assembly and testing. Within a week, a new, bespoke printed circuit board had been created and released as an AstraZeneca-specific option for the control heads. This meant that any valves ordered in the future with this option would provide status signals that matched the rest of the production facility.
Testing the solutions
From the outset, one of the initial sticking points was the fact that some valves on long lead times had already been ordered from another manufacturer. Bürkert control heads are designed so that they can be retro-fitted to other valve bodies and still provide reliable service. However, the AstraZeneca design team being risk adverse with such a critical application, required further evidence that this would not introduce, or pose a potential threat to any failures or loss of batches, so requested for some factual and evidence-based reliability testing to be completed before a final decision could be made.
Some sample valve bodies were taken to Germany, where Bürkert’s engineering and testing department set them up with a Bürkert diaphragm, control head and actuator. 50,000 test cycles were carried out during the week on multiple diaphragm valve body sizes and then the membrane wearing parts and valve component conditions were photographed and video images were supplied as evidence. These were taken back to AstraZeneca in Australia to illustrate the durability of the retro-fitted valve design.
Along with this, all of the actual components were taken back to AstraZeneca so they could witness first-hand the actual conditions of the diaphragms after the cycle testing was completed. Test reports were also supplied as part of this process outlining all the test conditions and findings. The Project Engineer with the Capital Engineering Team, explained: “Having completed the testing procedures, we believe we are in good hands with Bürkert, which has proven itself to be a true global engineering company with an understanding and a vision of how to truly add value to process automation applications.”
Saving time and space
One of the initial criteria for the project was to reduce the number of welded joints and minimise the dead space in the system. Bürkert was able to design and manufacture a number of specialty distribution valve blocks that achieved this aim while matching all other hygiene standards applied to the rest of the installation.
This flexibility to design bespoke components impressed the engineering team at AstraZeneca. The Project Engineer continues: “Bürkert has taken a very professional approach to this whole project. Standard products have been available to meet almost every need, while the ability to also design and manufacture custom products in such a short time frame is very impressive. They will certainly feature in our up-coming projects.”
Aside from the obvious hygienic requirements of the process control equipment, there was also a requirement to minimise the space occupied by the production suite. Bürkert’s Robolux valve was an ideal solution; it enables two independent valve seats switching functions to be achieved within the one membrane. This reduces the installation space requirement, eliminates T-adapters and halves the total number of membranes, actuators & control heads required per seat and therefore minimises the overall number of hygienic diaphragm process valves.
Talking the same language
An additional benefit of the Bürkert equipment was compatibility with the existing profinet communications protocols in the AstraZeneca plant. Available with several communications alternatives, selecting the ASi interface option for the control heads ensured perfect integration with the Siemens PLCs used throughout the site.
In the final analysis, AstraZeneca decided to opt for all Bürkert equipment, the one exception being a valve body that had already been welded to the base of process tanks. These were fitted with Bürkert control heads, diaphragms and actuators so that all the valves in the new process area would have the same control components.
Ryan concludes: “Having delivered and implemented all of the process control equipment for the first project, Bürkert has since gone on to supply other projects on the site, including a WFI suite, purified steam processes, nitrogen supply and a sterile compressed air project. Our products are now the standard across the solution preparation suites and to all services and utilities applications across the site. In each case, our experienced engineers have offered a combination of standard and bespoke products that work together to deliver the most efficient and reliable hygienic process systems.”
AstraZeneca have truly revolutionised their production facilities to meet growing global demand for their products. In partnering with Bürkert, they now have six suites either in full operation or in construction. As part of the project they’ve also completely automated processes for the WFI water purification production plant, clean steam, clean compressed air, nitrogen. The valued partnership has ensured that every step of the upgrade met stringent and demanding hygiene requirements and achieved pharmaceutical manufacturing facility standards.
Process equipment to Bürkert
Incorporated 30 years ago in June this year, Cleone Foods produces Jamaican patties and distributes them under its Island Delight brand name. The company relies on it’s process equipment to ensure an uninterrupted supply of it’s tasty products and Burkert has proven itself up to the task with process valves that have been in operation for ten years before requiring a service.
Derived from the Cornish pasty, Jamaican patties can contain a range of fillings with a distinctive, spicy taste. The company, which is based in Birmingham, has expanded several times since its inception, including into bigger premises.
Wade Lyn, the founder and company director of Cleone Foods, created the company with a clear objective of creating a strong brand that delivered high quality products without compromise. This concept was also used in selecting the equipment used to manufacture the Jamaican patties and the reason behind choosing Burkert fluid control valves.
Wade says, “We have a passion for creating our products and quality matters a lot – not just for food industry regulatory standards but for the taste and the experience of our range, it has to be right.”
Maintaining productivity is very important in any industry, especially in the food and beverage sector, where downtime needs to be minimized wherever possible. Therefore, being able to replace components, such as control valves, in a matter of minutes ensures that production lines can continue operating with minimal delays.
For the past 10 years, Burkert Type 2000 flow control valves have been used to regulate the flow of steam and hot water to the cookers, in an area that has repeated wash-downs. The choice of control valve has delivered a decade of reliable service in an environment that would have caused lesser components to fall short.
More recently, the Type 2000 underwent a design update that, amongst other things, reduced the overall length of the fluidic module. Therefore, if a complete valve assembly was to be replaced, some additional work would be required to reposition the threaded joints to enable the new valve to be installed.
However, in this case, only the original valve stem and actuators were to be replaced, leaving the valve body in place. Fortunately, even though the Type 2000 has been updated, the new components are still compatible with the original valve bodies, minimising the downtime required to complete the job.
Pneumatically controlled valves have two ports, inlet and exhaust and in a humid atmosphere damp air can reduce the long-term reliability of the valve. When the valve closes a small amount of ambient air is drawn into the valve to fill the void. In certain circumstances it is advisable to install a silencer on the valve or to draw the air from a cleaner source, such as the inside of a control cabinet. So, when the local Burkert Sales Manager visited the production site he offered this advice on prolonging the service life of the new valves even further than the 10 years offered by the original components.
Having confirmed that the new valve stem and actuator would be a direct replacement for the current components, the job of exchanging them would only take about 15 minutes. If the valve body needed to be replaced this would take considerably longer, especially if the valves had been welded in place.
Simplified process control for reverse osmosis plant
Designing and constructing a new solar power project is a complex operation that
requires a variety of skills and expertise. For one project in Spain, the systems integrator
selected a range of Bürkert products to ensure the cleanliness of the process water in order to
maintain efficiency and productivity.
The solar-thermal plant uses parabolic-through concentrating solar power (CSP)
technology. Parabolic mirrors direct the sun’s rays to a glass collector through which oil flows and gets heated up to around 400ºC. The hot oil is used to turn water into steam which is used to
drive a turbine that turns the generator.
In this case the plant has two 50 MW generators and the water used in the process is
groundwater. All of the impurities need to be removed before it can be used to power the
turbine, otherwise the impurities would gradually build up on the turbine blades leading to
corrosion and possible imbalance of the rotor.
In addition, the purified water is used to clean the mirrors regularly. If this was done with
untreated water the mirrors would suffer from a build-up of contaminants, which would reduce
the efficiency of the energy collection process.
Effective process design
To meet the water quality requirements of the solar plant, a treatment process using
reverse osmosis was proposed to remove the impurities from the water supply. The tier 1
contractor, responsible for the construction of the complete solar installation employed a
systems integrator to deliver the reverse osmosis process. For its part, the systems integrator
approached Bürkert for assistance with the design and implementation of the control system.
The reverse osmosis equipment is designed and manufactured in a skid format that
simplifies the installation process and reduces the amount of time required on site.
Implementing a fluid control system successfully requires a number of objectives to be met.
From the measurement and control of the technical parameters to the visualisation of the
Efficient data display
Bürkert designers worked closely with the systems integrator to create a simplified yet
flexible solution based around the Type 8619 multiCELL controller. One of the key benefits of
the 8619, is the ability to deal with up to 6 channels of data, which reduces the total number of
displays required throughout the installation.
At the time of the design, the 8619 was the only controller capable of displaying flow
measurements as well as analytical data such as conductivity, redox, pH and temperature. The
Type 8619 can be configured to display any combination of these parameters depending on the
needs of the installation.
Furthermore, once the Type 8619 has been programmed, all the settings can be
transferred to a memory card and then uploaded onto any number of similar devices. This
project required two identical skids and this feature reduced the amount of time required for the
setup of the second skid. This has significant benefits for OEMs, minimising any errors
between builds, removing the need for programming technicians for every unit and increasing
Simplifying the procurement process
Bürkert’s wide range of products was an important factor for the integrator, reducing the
number of suppliers and the number of processes required to complete the project.
In all, the project incorporated 12 Type 8619 multiCELL units, as well as 18 Type 8200
probe holders (8200s provide a sealed fixed mount for a range of 120mm analytical probes),
used in this instance to measure pH, oxidation-reduction potential (ORP) and temperature. In
addition, 16 Type 8030 paddle wheel flowmeters, 36 pressure sensors and 18 temperature
sensors were also sourced from Bürkert, along with two pneumatic control cabinets and Type
8640 valve islands.
Ruben Nalda, Area Sales Manager for Bürkert in Spain, explains: “The project integrators
expressed considerable satisfaction with the Bürkert solution, feeling that it offered a very cost
effective and flexible approach, supported by high quality and reliable sensors.”
Once the construction of the reverse osmosis units had been completed, Bürkert offered
to help with the commissioning process to ensure that all of its products were operating
correctly. In fact, the intuitive design of the Type 8619 and the sensors connected to it, allowed
the equipment to be correctly installed and configured by the engineers building the reverse
For OEMs, the intuitive operation of Bürkert’s products means that the manufacturer can
provide its own technical support to customers, without the need for Bürkert assistance. Once a
design has been conceived and implemented, it can provide reliable and cost-effective service
without further intervention, reducing costs and reliance on third parties for ongoing support.
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