Increased production in pharmaceuticals means additional need for technological cooling – but stopping the works to install a completely new system is costly, as production has to cease while temperatures are above critical levels. When a German pharmaceutical company needed to increase the effectiveness of its cooling plant to support higher production levels, the solution provided by ITT Industries’ Lowara kept down-time to just hours, while providing a more powerful, more flexible, better balanced, and better backed-up, system that would actually cost less to run than the original installation.
Jenapharm GmbH & Co. KG is a member company of the Schering Group, and is actively engaged in research as well as development activities within the wider pharmaceutical sector. Formed in the 1960s in Jena – around 90k or 55 miles southwest of Leipzig in the Thuringen region of the former East Germany – the company was a leader in the eastern bloc’s development and production of penicillin, and subsequently the largest manufacturer of contraceptive drugs.
Jenapharm was acquired by Berlin based Schering in 1996, and now has an active R&D department, as well as a production facility, based in Jena. The company has currently 220 employees including 97 scientists working in the departments of Medicinal Chemistry, Endocrinology & Pharmacology, Clinical Operations, and Chemical-Pharmaceutical Development. Two years ago, the company embarked on an expansion plan to increase production, but was keen to do this with minimal disruption to the infrastructure of the building, or the control of other process systems that were already in place. But within the manufacturing process, temperature control is critical, and this was one area where the existing facility needed to be upgraded.
Identifying The Critical FactorsUlrich Schmidt is managing director of Lowara Deutschland GmbH. “The processes at Jenapharm rely absolutely on the correct temperature controls,” he said. “It is one hundred per cent critical. If the temperature rises above the set limit, the entire production is wasted. Pressure is important too; it is necessary to make sure that the pressure for individual users remains constant, even with highly fluctuating demand and operating conditions.”
The existing cooling system was driven by a different supplier’s pumps, using a number of smaller 3 – 4 kW units to do the job; the added production meant an increase in the demand, and some new and different uses, so there had to be a system that would provide greater capacity with total reliability and at a constant pressure. At the same time it was important to the customer that the installation was changed as little as possible from the existing set-up, and that installation time was kept to a minimum, as production would have to cease while the system was not operating.
Technical DetailsLowara installed two 11kW LMR in-line Vogel pumps, through their distributor Pumpen Schulze in Weimar, which is close to Jena. The pumps are configured with 100 per cent redundancy, which means that at any given time, only one is running, but if for any reason that pump fails or needs to be stopped for maintenance, the flow can be re-routed and a second identical pump takes over. The control system is fully integrated with HydroVar, an automatic flow control system supplied by a sister ITT company, which matches demand with supply continuously to ensure equal and constant pressure; this was connected using a standard RS485 interface, removing the need for any additional external control units. The coolant, an equal mix of water and glycol, is circulated at an even temperature of -15 degrees Centigrade.
“We were able to install this with very few changes to the system,” said Schmidt. “In fact it was more like a routine maintenance break – the system was out of service for just a few hours while it was drained down, the new pumps fitted into the existing system, then the system filled up again and it was ready to go. It was a smooth installation, with everything working well from the first time.”And we could guarantee the constant flow, and constant pressure that Jenapharm needed, through the HydroVar system.
Lowara Benefits“I would say these were the reasons we at Lowara won the business,” he said. “We could fit our pumps straight into the system they already had, which makes it quicker, and cheaper to install. We could deliver the specification they needed, with the ability to provide full backup, and guarantee the high performance while minimizing down time for maintenance or repair work. And HydroVar was our special card – really it is the only system available for frequency regulation, that is specifically designed to work on pumps such as these. This gave Jenapharm the control assurances they needed. And despite the higher pump performances, energy consumption is reduced as well as the operating reliability being improved.
Jenapharm is ‘very satisfied’ with the Lowara installations, claims Schmidt. “We have done more work with this company since,” he said, “installing other pumps for other applications. Then other ITT companies have also supplied specialist pumps, for example for the movement of chemicals. I think we can say now that within the range of our expertise, Lowara pumps would be their first choice.”