Maintaining good hygiene for your diaphragm valves

Hygienic valves have changed little over recent years, despite the fact that the biopharmaceutical industry is heavily reliant on these valves for process applications that are very demanding in terms of cleaning, draining, temperature and pressure requirements.

Maintaining good hygiene for your diaphragm valves

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Industry commentator recently reported on the issue and how it can be addressed without causing downtime and losses in a production facility.
If the diaphragm fails, which is a frequent occurrence if it is not subject to routine maintenance and replacement, it’s highly likely to contaminate some aspects of the production process. There are three main ways in which this happens: the valve can leak, the diaphragm can completely rupture, or the diaphragm can tear.

Preventative maintenance is the key to minimising failures

Preventative maintenance can prevent these failures, and it also decrease downtime in a facility. Although it is expensive to maintain hygiene on a valve, the alternative is even higher maintenance costs, along with lost production. Plants must have regular maintenance schedules; otherwise, the entire plant may be shut down because a piece of equipment has failed.

Diaphragm ruptures and tears

If the diaphragm ruptures, fluid can leak between the valve body and the diaphragm and escape into the atmosphere. Contamination can be introduced, and the product can make contact with greases and other contaminants in the internal workings of the valve that have not been sterilised.

Diaphragm tears let process fluids travel to the valve bonnet and escape. They can also allow fluids to become trapped in the tears, causing contamination. The tear might not be identified at first because the pressure on the diaphragm does not go out of range, which means the automatic alerts in monitoring systems are not activated.

Valve leakage is also a risk because employees may be exposed to fluids used in the process that are harmful. In addition, steam leaks or dangerous organisms could end up being released.

Valve maintenance is a question of understanding the process involved in regular maintenance and identifying a reliable supplier

The facility needs to implement a scheduled maintenance plan that is customised to the particular process being used and to the work processes in place in a specific facility. Employee safety must always be the primary concern, and plant operators must understand the legal and reputational risks of poor maintenance.

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