What to Look for in a Dust Collection System for Pharmaceutical Manufacturing

September 07, 2021

The general public looks to pharmaceutical operations for the betterment of personal wellness, and therefore heavily relies on the efficient and timely delivery of pharmaceutical products. Between everyday machine upkeep and adherence to federal regulations, manufacturers operating in a compliant and effective manner are doing their part to ensure these products get where they need to go.

Efficiency in this industry, and others like it, starts with a thorough housekeeping process. Whether that calls for an industrial vacuum system or the installation of a dust collector for the purpose of 24-hour extraction cycles, the needs for the right material suction set up will vary case-by-case.

However, pharmaceutical industry standards do call for specific specs in industrial vacuums and dust collectors and, in many ways, pharmaceutical companies will also benefit from certain models over others. We’ve established this post with the hope that, by the end, you’ll have a clear idea of what to look for in a pharma-friendly vacuum or dust collection system.  

Combustible Dust and Cross-Contamination Hazards

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is an international nonprofit organization that takes measures to ensure the prevention of fire and electrical-related injuries, death, and economic or property losses.

Following tragic disasters in which combustible dust in manufacturing plants led to the fatalities of several workers in 2008 and 2010, government-run and nonprofit organizations like the NFPA went to work on implementing programs to tighten up industry regulations in the hopes of preventing these tragedies going forward.

Among the materials identified as combustible were those used in pharmaceutical manufacturing plants. Of course, the combination of combustible dust and electrical equipment isn’t the only potential recipe for disaster. On a product quality level, manufacturers need to also ensure the prevention of cross-contamination.

HEPA Filters and Pneumatic Conveyors

Measures you can take to ensure compliance include implementing a dust extraction and collection setup that houses HEPA filters. HEPA filters are designed to assist your vacuum in the collection and containment of dangerous particles like combustible dust. Delfin vacuums with HEPA filters currently have a high filtration efficiency of 99.995% at .18 microns.

Establishing pneumatic conveyance in your pharmaceutical manufacturing operation can also help eliminate obstacles that traditional material transport systems often run into – like sanitation difficulties and product contamination. Pneumatic conveyors are also easy to install and don’t take up a lot of space, potentially improving your operational efficiency. These set-ups also exclusively use uncontaminated compressed air which can help prevent issues with hygiene and hazards.

Three-Phase Power for Your Pharmaceutical Vacuum System

Depending on the extent of your operation, you’ll likely benefit most from a three-phase industrial vacuum cleaner, an ideal choice for chemical-pharmaceutical applications. This build enables less voltage through each wire, which drops heat transfer and accommodates higher loads. Essentially, a three-phase vacuum will run continuously and with greater power than a single-phase option.

That is not to say, of course, that a pharmaceutical operation shouldn’t include a single-phase vacuum system. In fact, having more than one extraction method may be beneficial. As a tool primarily used for intermittent use, the single-phase vacuum would simply serve a different purpose in your process.

What to Know About Equipment Certifications

Organizations like OSHA do not certify products for safe use. Rather, a recognized Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL) does that. NRTL certification hinges on several specs (and the testing, of course) that the industrial vacuum cleaner must have. Such features may include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Correctly bonded conductive accessories
  • A fan that is protected from dust
  • Filters that are antistatic, and no paper filters
  • Complete earth grounding

Also note that pneumatic equipment cannot be certified as there is currently no such certification in the U.S. 

Serious Material Extraction Solutions for a Variety of Industry Needs

In addition to pharmaceutical operations, Delfin provides solutions across a wide range of industries such as food and beverage, metal manufacturing, and additive manufacturing. Thanks to our multi-faceted background with various production and housekeeping needs, we are well-equipped to assist you with customized solutions that can help you maintain operation cleanliness and even machine upkeep. Additionally, we house an array of NRTL certified industrial vacuums that are ready for use in pharmaceutical manufacturing plants. Reach out today to learn more.

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