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Case Study

Piramal Healthcare

Spirax Sarco controls improve production efficiency at Piramal Healthcare

Effective condensate removal has reduced tablet drying times on steam-heated ovens at Piramal Healthcare’s pharmaceutical production site in Morpeth, Northumberland.

Effective condensate removal has reduced tablet drying times on steam-heated ovens at Piramal Healthcare’s pharmaceutical production site in Morpeth, Northumberland.

Automatic pump traps (APTs) from Spirax Sarco have proved so effective at improving temperature control and solving maintenance problems on three of the company’s ovens that Piramal plans to install them on the site’s two remaining units.

“The temperature control on the ovens was previously ±5oC, but now it’s accurate to ±0.5oC,” says Mechanical Engineer Paul Lunn. “We don’t know exactly how much we’re saving, but we know that the improved control must be saving energy because it’s reducing the drying time.”

APT10 Automatic Mechanical Pump

The build-up of condensate was also causing corrosion and erosion in the heating coils. Piramal typically had to replace each coil once or twice a year, putting an oven out action for three days every time.  As well as the cost of the repairs and downtime, any product in the oven when a coil sprang a leak had to be scrapped. “We haven’t had any problems with the coils since the Spirax Sarco pump traps were installed. I’d say the reduction in maintenance has been the biggest benefit for me,” says Mr Lunn. 

“We’ve worked well with Spirax Sarco before and this time the local engineer worked with us to design a solution and apply it successfully, “Now we’ve seen how well the APTs are working on the first three ovens we’re planning to fit them on the other two.”
Mechanical Engineer Paul Lunn

All the problems were caused by a build-up of liquid condensate in the steam coils. Back pressure made the liquid difficult to clear using conventional steam traps, but APTs from Spirax Sarco can always clear condensate effectively, even under vacuum. 

The APTs act like steam traps to drain the condensate normally as long as there is positive pressure in the steam coils. But if the pressure in the system drops below the condensate back pressure, the steam-driven APTs actively pump the condensate away. 

“We’ve worked well with Spirax Sarco before and this time the local engineer worked with us to design a solution and apply it successfully,” says Mr Lunn. “Now we’ve seen how well the APTs are working on the first three ovens we’re planning to fit them on the other two.”

Piramal Healthcare is a leading contract pharmaceutical manufacturer. The company took over the Morpeth site in 2006, where it continues to make a range of hormone-based products, including oral contraceptives.

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