Webcast: Best Practices in the Selection and Use of Sanitary Clamps

Keeping a Firm Grip on Sanitary Clamp Safety

For pharmaceutical and biotech companies, maintaining sterile process control is an ever-increasing challenge – one that can lead to cross-contamination, short term loss of product, long term drug shortages, lawsuits and even loss of life should sterile process be breached.

Sanitary clamps are crucial to keeping processing systems clean while allowing maintenance personnel to disconnect and reconnect piping quickly and securely. However, as simple as that sounds, making secure and sanitary process system connections consistently requires maintenance personnel to have the right clamps, the right tools, and the right training. A connection that isn’t properly secured can call the hygienic integrity of the whole processing system into question.

In addition to the risk of contamination due to manufacturing equipment issues, improper handling practices can be equally problematic. Pressure, temperature, and caustic process materials are all potential workplace hazards that can injure. When it comes to process equipment, maintenance and training are critical to ensuring reliability and safety.

This webcast, How to follow Sanitary Clamp Best Practices, shows how to help maintain sterile process control and offset the risk of improper connections from clamps, gaskets and ferrules by educating pharmaceutical and biotech workers on proper clamp assembly, inspection, installation and maintenance.

 

HEX NUT DESIGN IMPROVEMENT

In our efforts to continually improve our products we are introducing a change to the Domed Hexagon Nut used to tighten our range of clamps. These nuts are used to replace the Wing Nut in certain applications. The existing Domed Hexagon Nut, we currently supply, will become obsolete to be replaced by the new Hexagon Flat Nut.

The Hexagon Flat Nut has the following advantages over the Domed Hexagon Nut:

The contact point of the hexagon flat nut is only on the face of the clamp segment. This means the force is applied solely to a plane parallel to the nut face. This has benefits over the domed hexagon nut which has a contact point inside the legs of the clamp segment. In addition to the above, galling tends to be reduced as the thread at the tip of the nut is not deformed. This often results in a tighter thread which has been seen on multiple clamps. The hexagon flat nut also maintains the perpendicularity of the thread to the clamp body. This reduces the off collinear misalignment of the thread further reducing the tendency to gall.

You can read more on the entire LJ Star line of Sanitary Clamps, or contact us  for a quote and more information on product specs and performance.

 

How To Get the Right Sanitary Clamp

Recently, managers at a major U.S. pharmaceutical manufacturer were reminded of the importance of constant vigilance in their containment systems when they discovered leaks in sanitary clamp connections that forced them to scrap costly process media.

In a pharmaceutical or biotechnology setting, process equipment and piping are connected using a stainless steel sanitary clamp that forces together two ferrules, whose raised lips on the pipe ends facilitate a tight connection. Sanitary fittings are made specifically for pharmaceutical applications, where joint cleanliness and access are of paramount importance. Clamps allow quick disassembly for cleaning and sterilization. To prevent the formation of shelves or pockets that can harbor bacteria the ferrules, gasket and clamp must also provide a non-protruding, recess-less product contact surface.

Usually the connections are routine. However, this manufacturer had equipment that was originally used in different plants located in different regions of the world. As a result, some of the connections were mis-matched: one side had a ferrule that met ASME-BPE (Bioprocessing Equipment) standards, but the other side had ferrules made to a different standard. Slight differences in their specifications made alignment and sealing a challenge through pressure and process temperature changes. Managers noticed that some clamps weren’t able to perfectly seal the ferrules, and the resulting leaks forced managers to discard entire batches of process media because there was no way to prove to the FDA that no contamination had occurred.

In their search for a solution to their mismatched ferrule problem, managers devised a torture test for sanitary clamps. Over two months, they tested six different brands of clamps. Clamp after clamp failed their stringent connection-point leakage tests under heat and pressure. The only clamp able to pass the manufacturer’s testing protocol was the Advanced Couplings clamp, distributed exclusively in North America by L.J. Star. These stainless steel clamps are made from investment castings to produce a high quality, precision fit assembly. The secret is the clamp’s unique “Omega” profile, which pushes the ferules into alignment with high clamping efficiency.

In a global industry, the problem of integrating equipment made to different specifications is increasingly common. To learn more about how the right sanitary clamp design can assure reliable connections, see the SlideShare presentation titled “Must-Have Information about Sanitary Fittings.”

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What’s Lurking in Your Plants’ Pipes?

Any plant operator can tell you that an innocent-looking set of pipes can conceal nasty secrets, some as petrifying as the monster hiding in the plumbing in a Harry Potter movie. A sight flow indicator is a good way to discover what’s lurking within.

These simple, low-cost devices provide a visual means of verifying liquid flow for direction and approximate rate, and also to observe the color and clarity of process fluids. The body of a sight flow indicator is equipped with one or more viewing windows, usually with gaskets, and a way to mount the indicator to the pipeline, such as a flanged, threaded, or sanitary clamp fitting. They are available to fit standard pipe sizes ranging from ¼-inch to 16 inches and carry ANSI pressure ratings.

Sight flow indicators are applicable to almost every phase of process media movement, whether the media is liquid, gas or powder. Here are some examples:

  • In the processing of bulk solids such as plastic resins, inorganic powders, and food products, sight flow indicators make it possible to observe blending and confirm the free flow of materials.
  • Sight flow indicators allow personnel to inspect pipelines for residue, scale, and foreign matter, especially during cleaning routines.
  • For pipes carrying steam, sight flow indicators can be used to alert personnel to the presence of condensate so they can take steps to eliminate it.
  • A chemical processing system often involves a number of pipelines used to move liquid product though cooling lines, filters, and transfer/pumping lines. Sight flow indicators let operators observe line conditions for signs of clogging or blinding filters.
  • In discrete manufacturing, machines depend on adequate lubrication to operate smoothly. Equipment with sight flow indicators allows maintenance personnel to detect the absence of oil and to inspect the color of the oil, which may indicate it needs to be changed.

The first step in choosing the right sight flow indicator for a specific application is to define the process to be observed, including temperature, pressure, the physical characteristics of the process media, the direction of flow, and the process’s sterile requirements (if any). To learn more about what’s involved, download a free copy of L.J. Star’s Sight Flow Indicators Handbook: Selection and Application of Sight Flow Indicators in Process Applications.

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