Manufacturers operating processes under hygienic conditions are arguably under more pressures to increase efficiency and reduce waste due to high relative operating costs, however this specialist area is required to prioritise cleanliness and precision ahead of other considerations, which can lead to some cost saving opportunities being missed
Bürkert valve solution. Image copyright DMA Europa.
In production processes requiring hygienic equipment, it is crucial to have a valve design, which can be easily cleaned, contains a low internal volume, a minimum number of connections and excellent control abilities.
Working through these design requirements has enabled Bürkert to create a compact valve solution that can be implemented in a wide range of applications.
One of the principal ways of improving production efficiency is to design a manufacturing process that occupies the minimum amount of floor space.
A compact installation also offers reduced installation costs for the control equipment by reducing the distances between valves and sensors and the central control point.
One key advancement in this area has been the development of the patented valve design that is known as Robolux, which is capable of switching two independent process functions with one membrane.
This reduces the installation space requirement, eliminates T-adapters and minimises the overall number of valves and membranes required. The multi-port membrane valves have been designed for high-purity installations and make it possible to design complex systems that are considerably more compact than those using conventional fluid control valves.
A smaller internal volume means there is physically less material to clean and less water, chemicals and energy are needed. This results in multiple benefits; manufacturers reduce use of three consumables, which can add significantly to costs, while also furthering sustainability initiatives.
Forward-thinking manufacturers are pushing hard to reduce the environmental footprint of its plants.
When combined with reduced installation and commissioning costs, the Robolux valve delivers a number of crucial advantages to process control within hygienic applications.
In addition, the valves can provide a “double block and bleed function” to prevent steam used for sterilisation of the parallel line from contaminating the product and vice versa.
Many of the benefits of Robolux valves derive directly from their size. Being smaller causes the stainless steel body to heat up faster than traditional valves.
This cuts the time and energy taken to reach the temperature needed to kill micro-organisms during sterilisation. Robolux valves’ smaller internal volume also enable faster cleaning times and a host of related cost savings and efficiency gains.
These savings can also be realised when selecting the control device for the Robolux valves. Compatibility with Bürkert’s ELEMENT series of control heads allows the valves to be controlled by a decentralised system. This significantly reduces the amount of cabling and pneumatic pipework as well as reducing the overall consumption of compressed air.
The design of the Robolux valve minimises the internal volume and produces no dead flow zones, which produces a number of advantages: In addition to improved flow and evacuation properties, both cleaning and changeover of the interfaces for the manufacture of other products is easier and faster, with less wastage of expensive chemicals and ingredients.
Robolux has been designed with this crucial aspect in mind and the draining process is quick, simple and wastes as little of the media as is currently possible.
Hygienic processing places high demands on the reliability and cleanability of production facilities. Common challenges such as corrosion in pipe systems, valve manifolds and tank installations in different pharmaceutical and biotech facilities can be reduced, thereby reducing costs and improving plant availability — by using multiport valves and multiport-based manifolds.
The Robolux valves also cut operating costs by reducing downtime between batches, slashing the volume of consumables needed to clean the system and shrinking the physical and environmental footprint of the production equipment.