Bürkert Fluid Control Systems and BBS Systems form one of the most comprehensive partnerships in the pharmaceutical and biotech sector.

Compactness, smart communication, plant footprint, wash down, dead legs, cross-contamination and validation are everyday concerns in hygienic processing. To provide even better process efficiency and higher yields by offering unlimited process modularity, Bürkert, a market leader in fluid control systems, has joined forces with BBS Systems, one of the most important international manufacturers of piping components and valves.

"Understanding the business of our customers and the end-users of our products in great detail is decisive for Bürkert and BBS," says Mike Rodd, segment manager, Hygienic Processing (HP) at Bürkert Fluid Control Systems and director of BBS Systems. "We teamed up to improve our analysis of the market and customer needs, with the aim of improving client profitability."

The alliance sees itself as a partner to an industry that is driven by optimised product yield, and which uses and demands flexibility of the process lines, minimum maintenance for greater process efficiency and optimised process performance, as well as fast and flawless cleaning cycles.

"When we develop new products, our primary goal is to identify how they will enhance all business drivers of the end-user," says Rodd. "If a customer presents a particular challenge for a complex valve configuration, we will work out a solution on the basis of the customer’s process schematics, create a simulation with all critical values and flows, and finally present a solution that optimises the fluid paths and overall space, while keeping instrumentation to a minimum. Wherever possible, we eliminate dead legs. This means we also simplify the obtaining of approvals, certifications and validations for the end-user – aspects that are of the utmost importance in hygienic processing."

From the control room to the downstream processing area and plant utility services, the scope of systems and components from Bürkert and BBS covers all the different application environments in hygienic processing, effectively and efficiently while working harmoniously to provide a reliable total plant solution.

Full control

In HP industries, measuring and controlling the flow of liquids and gases demands superior instrument performance and networkability. Standard connectivity with modularity, decentralised monitoring, intelligence and diagnostics are the platform for efficient flow control networks, which provide reliable productivity data from the plant level flow network. Control can be deployed when and where required – whether centralised in a control cabinet with communication via profi-bus, device net or field-bus or locally in the plant. Bürkert’s process control centres, valve-mounted PID controller or valve tops for remote control are flexible regarding I/Os and communication protocols.

"Our alliance can deliver complete bespoke control cabinets or just a single control device," adds Rodd.

Key to success

Water quality and consistency are essential to the success of the final product, and to the success of the company. Controlling the water is critical and demands superior instrument performance, networkability and process component interfaces.

The alliance is involved in the complete water supply chain from groundwater treatment and incoming water supply processing, stringent safety requirements, inline sampling and verifications to final decontamination, treatment and/or neutralisation. The Bürkert and BBS Alliance offers an otherwise unattainable synergy of rugged valves, process actuation, sensors and networked communications to make sure that pH, conductivity, flow, pressure and levels are under control.

Excellent cleanability

HP applications need to be highly reliable, flexible and avoid cross-contamination. This demands excellent cleaning properties and/or sterilisation using clean-in-place or sterilise-in-place. Where chemicals and hot steam are involved, absolute safety is crucial.

Every stage of the cleaning regime has to be controlled and safely documented. All used components are designed for harsh shifts from acid to base, are resistant to wash-down, and are performance-oriented. Mechanical components, such as quick connectors, unions and flanges, and sight glasses, can withstand the tough conditions and maintain secure processing. Devices such as inductive conductivity transmitters, sanitary divert valves or local process control centres, ensure reliability and safety when switching from water to clean steam and from chemical to surfactant, and safeguard the complete control of the whole process.

The critical process

"Our customers have invested significant time and money in preparing the ingredients for the fermentation process," says Rodd. ‘Therefore our products naturally support this process from many angles. In the reactor, our sterile flanges, Ingolds and access ports are produced from quality materials and are precision engineered and machined.’

The result is a completely reliable environment control for culture creation. This is combined with exceptional components for fermenter gas control, pH and pressure monitoring and field bus solutions, used to join up separate reactors within coordinated processing lines.

Time to harvest

Product harvesting and measurement accuracy are critical factors. Filtration, separation and chromatography require precise and flexible systems.

"We help our customers get as much product yield as possible in the right place with the least amount of waste," explains Rodd. "This is the area where our combined engineering competence and process and application expertise is fully used to deliver fast flow shifts, minimum dead space and reduced footprints."

The alliance also delivers fully tested and approved components and sub systems to batch, mix and finally fill different compounds, such as primary active drug ingredients worth thousands of euros per gramme.

"But filling a bottle or a pack does not just mean simply opening a valve," says Rodd. "The product velocity, quantity, type, and the process consistency, reliability, accuracy and repeatability, as well as other specific demands, all need to be considered."

Everything fits

While Bürkert is responsible for linking all parts of the production process via electrical signals, BBS links them all mechanically. Sterile weld unions or quick connectors, flanges, fittings, hoses and pipes are where the Swiss manufacturer excels. While Bürkert stands for process design, flow and instrumentation, BBS completes the offer with special valves, sampling systems, flow indicators, and heat exchangers – a few of the wide range of components.

"BBS offers all the mechanical parts that perfectly complement our product range," says Rodd. "Moreover, the cooperation with BBS gives us increased flexibility in using exotic materials like hastelloy. We can also supply exceptional quality platinum cured silicone hoses, approved for sterile use, as flexible connections between process devices, and clever re-usable unions. This brings major modularity, flexibility, and cost efficiency to our customers."

With more than 40 locations worldwide, the alliance is even closer to its global customers, with more manufacturing capacity to serve increasing demand and to share techniques and best practice.

"The combined product range of BBS and Bürkert is like a very large Lego kit," says Rodd. "Everything fits perfectly and this makes us stand out from our competitors."