What is a sight glass? Definitions for common sight glass terms.

What is a sight glass? Definitions for common sight glass terms.Sight Glass

Sight glasses are used in industries ranging from refineries to craft breweries. Perhaps because of their widely-varied applications, sight glasses are called by different names. Broadly speaking, a sight glass is any kind of window on a process vessel (more…)

Why Preventing Sanitary Clamp Galling Is Crucial to Product Purity

Why Preventing Sanitary Clamp Galling Is Crucial to Product Purity

by Michael Curnutte

All makers of pharmaceuticals and biotechnology products have many concerns in common, but none is more critical than maintaining tight control over product purity during manufacturing and packaging. For example, if contamination were to compromise the integrity of a single batch of insulin, it could easily mean a loss of hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars in revenue to the manufacturer. Connecting the complex network of vessels, piping, tubing, valves, pumps, compressors, etc. in a batch process facility demands reliable, long-lasting clamps that provide a consistent level of engagement around the circumference of the connection to prevent leaks.

Quality clamps are essential to maintaining the required joint safety, cleanliness and efficiency in high pressure and high temperature manufacturing processes. However, until recently, many of the clamps used in these settings were susceptible to galling. In this context, galling refers a clamp’s bolt and nut becoming bound or locked together, making it extremely difficult or impossible to open the clamp in order to service the connection.

This post offers some important insights on the causes of clamp galling problems and ways to reduce the potential for product contamination and gain better control over joint maintenance costs.

Clamp connections should seal two ferrules together quickly, securely and without creating sites where contamination can collect.

Why stainless steel sanitary clamps gall

A number of factors can contribute to clamp galling in a pharmaceutical or biotechnology plant, including the use of clamps made of the same grade of stainless steel for both the bolt and nut. When over-torqued, either manually or mechanically, these separate pieces of metal can fuse or bind to each other, so they are literally “cold-welded” together. Over-torqued clamps also exert excess pressure on the connection, which can lead to gasket intrusions into the connection, interfering with the flow of process material and allowing particles to collect. Over-torqueing a clamp can even cause pieces of the gasket to shear off and be carried away, contaminating the product.

To avoid overtightening a clamp, always use an approved torque tool.

The cleaning procedures used in pharmaceuticals plants can also play a role in clamp galling. Cleaning a clamp in a parts washer prior to installation can leave behind trace amounts of the sodium hydroxide used in clean-in-place (CIP) solutions. After the solution dries, it can build up in the grooves of threaded parts, contributing to galling by further binding the parts together.


Rethinking sanitary clamps

Recently, L.J. Star had an opportunity to engage with one of our major pharmaceutical manufacturing customers and Advanced Couplings Ltd., our clamp producer based in the United Kingdom, to explore new ways to prevent clamp galling. Back in 2014, our customer came to us with problems they had been experiencing with our SH Series clamps. Apparently, increasing numbers of galled clamps were requiring “extreme action” to separate components for maintenance. In some cases, galled clamps were forcing maintenance personnel to cut the clamps off their vessels and piping to remove them for servicing equipment.


The standard SH Series clamp design.






Our standard SH clamp design is made of 316 grade stainless steel, an austenitic stainless steel alloy that’s widely used in the chemical processing industry. It offers higher performance than the 304 grade stainless steel used in most “commodity” clamps. The SH clamp’s dual-pin hinge, single-bolt design is widely used in pharmaceutical plants because it offers excellent alignment of the clamp halves. Its special “Omega” profile allows for fuller engagement of the clamp around the circumference of the connection for a better and more repeatable 360° compression of the two mating faces without the need to over-torque the nut when closing the clamp.

All stainless steel sanitary clamps are not equal

Working in cooperation with our client and Advanced Couplings, we attacked the galling issue by modifying the materials used to create the standard SH clamp. After repeated experiments with how various materials reacted to the client’s part washing process and torqueing procedures, we eventually settled on the use of a much harder, galling-resistant Nitronic® 60 stainless steel alloy for the bolt while continuing to use the slightly softer 316 grade stainless steel for the clamp’s wing nut or hex nut.

SH Series clamps with the new anti-galling option are now widely available for use in pharmaceutical and biotechnology operations.

This new approach allows the clamp to withstand over-torqueing; if the nut is damaged, it can be replaced easily and inexpensively. In earlier designs, the nut would have been formed of the harder material and would have stripped the clamp bolt if over-torqued, which would have required scrapping the entire clamp. Today, our client has replaced thousands of standard SH clamps in two of its North American and one European facilities with SH clamps with our new anti-galling option and is enjoying greatly simplified and more cost-effective maintenance as a result.

Because a clamp that’s under pressure that is accidentally disengaged can have catastrophic consequences for both personnel and equipment, we have added the anti-galling option for our Safety Clamp line as well to allow for better clamp performance and safer operation.

Are you current on the industry’s best practices for maintaining clean and safe process clamp connections? Download your free copy of L.J. Star’s “Sanitary Fittings Best Practices” white paper to ensure you understand all the steps for correctly installing a clamp connection.

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Michael Curnutte is the Director of Sales for LJ Star, Inc. Before he joined LJ Star in 2009 as the company’s National Sales Manager – Sanitary Products, he served in various sales roles with Tradesmen International, Masonite, and Standard Register.

I need a sight glass. What type of glass do you recommend?

I need a sight glass. What type of glass do you recommend?

PrintA sight glass seems pretty straightforward: a fitting with a window installed on the top or side of a vessel that you can look through and see what’s going on. Simple, right?

Not so fast. There is a wrong way to do anything, and choosing the wrong type of glass for a sight glass can have bad (more…)

Where can I find a sanitary fitting for a botanical oil extractor?

stinging nettle leaves in a glass funnel above a pharmacy bottle, a medicinal herb for tincture, essence or tea, isolated on a white background, vertical

Where can I find a sanitary fitting for a botanical oil extractor?

The medicinal use of cannabis is becoming normalized in a growing number of states. Some of the products used include botanical oils. The botanical oil extraction process relies on pressure and solvents generally recognized as safe by the FDA. CO2 and hydrocarbon solvents such as butane or propane are the most common. Systems that use nButane work at relatively low pressures in the range of 80 to 150 psi. CO2 systems operate at higher pressures up to 5000 psi. Obviously, a failure at these pressures can be dangerous to workers, and natural gas products also carry the risk of fire and explosion. (more…)

Sight Glass Light Options for Conical Fermenters

Sight Glass Light Options for Conical Fermenters

Like other critical components of getting the perfect brew, conical fermenters need to be closely observed. Fermentation is part art, which means you need to involve your senses: seeing, smelling, tasting. It’s also part science, which means that you need a way to confirm that each stage of the process is going according to plan: that the cleaning solution is fully rinsed, that there is no cross batch contamination, etc.  In short, you need a sight glass window on your vessel, and a light to illuminate its interior.
brewing fermenter sight glass lights
Conical fermenter sight glass lights come in various types and configurations. In my post today I’ll review some of your options, so you can choose the optimal light for your situation. By the way, although I’m focusing on fermenters, which may be conical or straight, the same advice will apply to any brewing equipment vessel, including mash lauter tuns, finishing tanks, and the like.


LED lighting for food & beverage sight glass applications

LED Lighting for Food & Beverage Sight Glass Applications

food and beverage sight glass
Food and Beverage Application

Experts in the $738 billion food and beverage manufacturing industry know that, for consumers, taste begins with the eyes. This is especially true with beverages, for whom hue, clarity, cloudiness, transparency, opacity and foam are very tightly controlled. Such the domain of the processing engineer, who depends on the sight glass and associated lighting to observe the process media.


How to Size a Sight Glass Light for a Process Vessel

How to Size a Sight Glass Light for a Process Vessel?








Ah, the world of lighting used to be so simple. When you needed to illuminate the interior of a process vessel or tank, you selected a halogen light by its watts. Typically you used a 50 watt light because that’s what the manufacturers commonly offered. If that wasn’t bright enough, then you used a 100 watt light. It got hot, but you didn’t have much choice. The decision for your sight glass light was simple.


5 Key Elements When Specifying Your Sight Glass

5 Key Elements When sightglass_image_6 (002)Specifying Your Sight Glass

I have a tank and need a sight glass.  What are my options?  Although this may seem like an innocuous question… many factors come into play.  While the choice is clear for some customers, there are many more for whom this choice is anything but clear.

Sight glasses allow you to safely observe processes inside your tanks, vessels, pipes, and reactors. It is a window that allows operators to inspect the process media, observe reactions, observe the functioning of mixing equipment, verify the presence or absence of media, see liquid level, etc. It consists of metal, glass and gasket components.  In order to ensure optimal performance a variety of factors need to be considered. Here are 5 critical things to consider when specifying a sight glass for your process.

Let’s get started.


Sight Glass Maintenance Tips

Sight Glass Maintenance Tips from L.J. Star IncorporatedSight Glass Products from L.J. Star

The temperatures are warming up, flowers are blooming and spring is thankfully here!  Along with the warmer weather comes the annual task of Spring cleaning –  you know, the time to make your windows sparkle again, dust out all the cobwebs, assess any of winter’s damage or just clear out the clutter.   Believe it or not there are benefits of a good cleaning – that sense of accomplishment (I love crossing things off my list!), getting rid of the dirt and dust that has collected over time and finally making those repairs before it’s too late. Leaving things unchecked or worse ignored can lead to bigger and messier problems.  This holds true for maintaining your sight glasses.


Manufacturing Summit

Ready to roll….  The time and effort deciding where and when to show has been a challenge for some time.   Making the right choices to promote oneself and stay on top of industry trends, demands and forecasting the needs of customers is critical in any business.   So when an opportunity arises you’d be a fool to pass it by.   And this week LJ Star, Inc will be taking advantage of such an opportunity by showing at the American Manufacturing Summit, February 29- March 1, 2016.


The Summit is a leadership focused meeting designed around improving plant floor operations and manufacturing strategy across the globe. “This year’s Summit creates an opportunity to examine key case studies around how workforce management, lean manufacturing, process improvement and automation are being rolled out in the world’s best facilities.” Retrieved from http://manusummit.com/


The benefits of positioning ourselves as industry leaders as having the most expertise in process control applications/industry requirements.  Our products are critical to operational safety: sight glasses, sight flow indicators, sanitary fittings and lighting.  Roger, John and Eric will be at the LJ Star booth sharing their expertise with those at the American Manufacturing Summit.