How safe is your pharmaceutical facility from contamination or accidents’ risk?

As data continue to positively point out the pharmaceutical industry as one of the most important assets for the economy, for a company, to stay competitive, maintain a solid reputation and comply to the high quality standards is becoming more and more difficult. How safe is your facility from contamination? In this article we are going to talk about the importance of maintenance management and explain how the right industrial vacuum cleaner can make the difference.

Some positive data

According to EFPIA, the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations, “The research-based pharmaceutical industry can play a critical role in restoring Europe to growth and ensuring future competitiveness in an advancing global economy”. In a report with key data from 2014, EFPIA shows, among other interesting figures, how pharmaceutical production passed from 63,010 millions of Euros in 1990 to 217,500 millions of Euros in 2013, more than 300% higher than 23 years ago. There is no doubt this sector is one of the most important assets for the European Economy, which is suffering now from a lack of employment. In fact, according to Eurostat data, the Pharmaceutical Industry ranks as the industry with the higher R&D intensity, with a 14,4% compared to the 9,9% of the Software and computer services industry, which ranks second. Nevertheless, as the market grows, competition gets fiercer and quality control standards become more severe.

Risks and scandals

OSHA reports that, only in the USA, 30,000 facilities are considered at risk. Several explosions have been documented in the last years and recently some companies have been involved in scandals related to contamination issues. At the beginning of this month cease-and-desist requests were sent to companies like GNC or Walgreens after some genetic tests showed possible contamination in some of their products.

Accidents or scandals bring enormous costs in terms of money, reputation and productivity. As a GNC spokesperson stated, “we stand behind the quality, purity and potency of all ingredients listed on the labels of our private label products”. Every company understands today the importance of excellence and is willing to implement high quality standards, but how can you be sure your facility is safe and complies with national and international standards?

The need of maintenance and inspection controls

Maintenance management is a top importance aspect when it comes to quality. Several companies have been adopting maintenance plans and successfully using scheduling software in order to obtain the best results when it comes to cleaning a facility. By using the right vacuum cleaner with a certain frequency, not only they manage to extend the lifespan of their equipment, but they also reduce machinery downtime and achieve therefore to be more productive. But a bigger production is only a waste of time and money if it’s not a top quality product. The role of a quality inspector that controls not only the integrity of every raw material but also of the final product is today vital for any company. It’s been observed that the regular use of an industrial vacuum cleaner leads to less contamination, less accident risks, a higher quality and therefore a better reputation.

How to choose the right vacuum cleaner for pharmaceutical use

Personal requirements

Every facility is different. Before starting to search for the industrial vacuum cleaner that works for you, you have to determine what you are going to vacuum, if wet or dry material; how much capacity and how much power you will need; if you require or prefer an air powered vacuum cleaner or an ATEX certified vacuum system.

About the particles

pharmaceutical laboratory, whatever its size is, needs a high filtration vacuum cleaner. You have to remove dusts that are threatening because of their small size and because of the speed at which they travel. You will then need to consider:

– A HEPA filter: that captures 99,7% of particles as small as 0,3 microns of diameter.

– A pocket filter: with high surface that contains more dust

– A Cyclone: that slows the air as it enters into the machine, in order to avoid possible explosions

Looking for the right construction

When choosing an industrial vacuum cleaner for pharmaceutical environments, it’s important to look for two different aspects:

– the construction material: it has to be a non-particle generating material like stainless steel.
– The structure: in some cases, it’s very important to have a compact and easy to carry vacuum cleaner.
– The place of the filter: it has to be positioned behind the motor, since the motor itself generates particles that have to be filtered too.

As you have seen, including the right industrial vacuum cleaner in your maintenance plan can definitely help you to keep ahead of competition by reducing risks, enhancing the quality of your products and protecting your reputation, so taking your time to choose the best model for your needs is worthwhile.