Special care is needed during the production of chemical substances, which is subject to stringent requirements.
The relevant facilities are often located in cleanrooms to keep particles such as dust and bacteria to an absolute minimum. Many manufacturers in the pharmaceutical industry also use work cabins. These special cabins have two main functions – preventing undesired substances from escaping into the air, where they can contaminate products and the environment or cause chemical reactions, and protecting staff. Such enclosures tend to be connected to exhaust systems to ensure that dust, gases, vapours and splashes don’t come into contact with people, equipment, materials or experiments. As a manufacturer of fine chemicals and active pharmacological substances for human use, ChemCon GmbH from Freiburg also needs to adhere to the strict requirements of Good Manufacturing Practice. The international company uses enclosures and work cabins based on Line X from the MB Building Kit System in conjunction with item Installation Columns and components from the XMS machine cabins in its laboratories and cleanrooms.
Custom work cabins for pharmaceutical services
Enclosures are a must for ChemCon to protect staff handling cytostatic substances or other highly toxic compounds. The company therefore has an extensive range of laboratory equipment, including multiple cleanrooms that have been optimized for manufacturing chemical substances in batches ranging from a few grams to several kilograms. Since ChemCon manufactures active ingredients and fine chemicals in systems of various sizes, however, the standardized dimensions of customary laboratory exhaust systems are of limited use, so having customizable work cabins for its manufacturing processes was vital to overcome this challenge.
The company therefore decided to make its own work cabins for the production of active pharmaceutical ingredients. Profiles and fastening technology from item give ChemCon the necessary flexibility and safety. “We’ve been working with item for seven years now. During that period, we’ve made eight cabins using aluminium Line X 8 profiles, with item adapting the design to our requirements each time,” reports the company’s technical manager. The various cabins have different dimensions – the largest model is 3.50 m long, 1.80 m wide and 2.50 m tall. Plastic panels are incorporated into the aluminium profile frame structure, and the double door sections at the front are fitted with safety glass.
Installation Columns ensure reliable supply
The work cabins for manufacturing active pharmaceutical ingredients incorporate internal plug sockets and light switches that can be controlled from the outside. Both are fitted in an Installation Column located in the cabin’s back panel. A second Installation Column outside the cabin is used for control purposes, with Line XMS profiles connecting the two columns. Integrated cable conduits allow for optimum cable routing and secure process control. Cables and hoses routed along the back wall of the cabins supply inert gas, other types of gas, coolant and compressed air. Physical separation between the electrics and the other media ensures the reliability of these supply lines. If an emergency does occur, however, emergency stop buttons on the inside of the Installation Columns can halt all processes directly.
Each product brings new requirements
There’s a specific reason why such flexibility is required. The production processes are different for each project, so the work cabins often have to be converted and adapted. Consequently, they’re planned and configured in close collaboration with the item distribution partner in Freiburg. ChemCon receives the profiles already cut to size and takes care of final assembly itself. More complex parts, such as door elements incorporating safety glass, are supplied complete and merely have to be fitted in place. This means custom work cabins can be created in no time at all – not least thanks to the lightweight profiles with minimal edge radii that ensure smooth transitions between the individual profiles.
What’s more, the option of covering over grooves helps stop deposits of dust and other particles building up and also means accessories can be retrofitted almost anywhere. The key advantage aluminium profiles have over their stainless steel equivalents is that they can be modified quickly. The ChemCon project manager also underlines the cost and service factor: “Compared to made-to-measure solutions from other manufacturers, the constructions from item offer better value for money and the delivery times are significantly shorter, too.” The company ended up also switching to item for its office furniture and work benches.
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