Rupture discs to the rescue

Louise Smyth

Roger Bours reveals how a pharmaceutical company has achieved cost savings and increased plant reliability via a smart approach to rupture discs

Rupture disc devices are selected as critical, highly reliable overpressure protection solutions for a variety of storage, process vessels and equipment. The objective of the rupture disc is to maintain a leak-tight seal and be a passive bystander until called upon to relieve excess pressure. Sanitary and hygienic applications demand specific rupture disc requirements with regards to cleanability and compliance with industry requirements, and there are times when rupture disc performance can be adversely affected by application processes and/or operation and maintenance practices.

Recently a very large pharmaceutical manufacturing plant had been utilising a “high performance” sanitary disc supplied by others within a sterilisation process for injection bottles. Throughout the timespan that the a manufacturing company used these discs, it noticed an unusually short service life, making it necessary to replace the discs an average of every three months. This resulted in high costs of ownership and downtime, but also in an uncomfortable feeling with regards to the provided solution. A Fike representative approached the pharmaceutical company about trying a new solution to dramatically reduce the related costs.

]Fike offers a complete line of pressure relief products designed to meet the specific and stringent sanitary and hygienic requirements as applied by the pharmaceutical market. Therefore a high level of confidence existed that if this company would just try the technology of the Axius SC, this would reduce its disc turnover issues – ultimately saving money and improving on the availability for production of the installation.

Made with 316/316L stainless steel or alternatively Hastelloy C276, the Axius SC has a highly smooth, indention- free process surface, is capable of cycling from full vacuum to 95% operating ratio (even at the lowest burst pressures available) and provides an impressively long service life.

Compelling results

By replacing the original rupture discs with Axius SC discs on two washing and decontamination systems units over a year  ago with no reported failures since, a huge improvement has been achieved. By now the user would have gone through three or four of the other discs, incurring considerable downtime and labour costs – not to mention the cost of the rupture discs themselves. The company has already realised a large cost saving.

In fact, the Axius SC is designed and expected to meet the site standard of a maximum allowed installed period of five years. Since the company was replacing discs every three months, within that five-year time it would have gone through approximately 20 discs for every one Axius SC disc.

Multiply that by the number of applications, the savings in routine maintenance and unexpected downtime, and the savings realised in considering the use of new, innovative equipment is tremendous. Needless to say, this customer is very happy with the related cost savings whilst keeping the safety standard unchanged.

When dealing with health and life issues, there is no margin for error. Huge, continually changing and growing markets, the biotech and pharmaceutical industries present unique challenges to solutions providers. Fike’s work to develop technologies that address the specific needs of the CIP/SIP environment has paid off with products such as the Axius SC.

Perfectly suited to food and beverage applications

The Axius SC is specifically designed for the stringent sanitary and aseptic requirements of the biotech and pharmaceutical industries. Free of any and all indentations, crevices or other design features that may trap process contaminants, the Axius SC CIP/SIP design also makes this rupture disc superior for use in food and beverage applications.

Roger Bours is with Fike

For more information, visit www.engineerlive.com/design 

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