The laser beams of the cleaning machine make a difference between, for instance, the reactor vessel wall and the pollution, up to a molecular level.
This has 2 reasons:
- first, the pollution has a different, lower ablation temperature than the vessel itself. With the right setting of the laser pulse, this will lead to an immediate evaporation of the pollution, while the underlying material stays undamaged and hardly heats up.
- Secondly, the surfaces that need to be cleaned are usually in a light color and/or from metal, making the laser beams reflect on them. This reflection means that the metal doesn’t absorb any energy from the laser beam. on the other hand, the pollution is usually not reflective so it absorbs the energy of the laser beams, causing it to heat up and evaporate. This effect takes place up to a molecular level and in fractions of seconds.
Next to certain chemical cleaning techniques, laser scanning is the only one that can give you this guarantee.
That’s why we dare to say that laser cleaning provides 100% cleaning.
- Maintain product quality.
- Remove all trace ingredients to prevent the transfer of ingredients from one product to the next. This is especially important when multiple products are produced on the same equipment.
- Prevent equipment malfunctions that may lead to product contamination.
- Provide a clean surface for disinfection. Surfaces cannot be properly sanitized or disinfected if they are not thoroughly cleaned first.
- Comply with local and international standards and regulations to ensure consumer safety and avoid legal issues.
- Increase plant performance and productivity by diminishing waste, maintaining equipment and preserving product quality.
- Enhance worker safety by providing a clean working environment and smoothly functioning equipment.
When creating pharmaceutical products, a machine might be used to create a number of products. Cross contamination must be avoided in the pharmaceutical industry at all costs and successful cleaning validation ensures that patients are not put at risk due to cross contamination. Cleaning validation is a requirement in industries that follow Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP). It is a guarantee that the cleaning can be performed consistently and repeatedly. The process can be divided into a number of sections each of which must be fully understood and areas of concern addressed to ensure a successful outcome across the entire process.
- A deep cleaning, everytime again and again
- Reduce downtime for production
- A very high degree of cleanliness reachable without extra cost
- Improve supply assurance
- Reduce cost of cleaning
- No chemicals or other products used
- Avoid contamination with other materials
Mixing tanks, tablet presses, capsule fillers, centrifuges, granulators, filling lines, mixers, conveyors, filters, fluid lines, batch process tanks, tubes and flasks all need to be thoroughly cleaned. The design of the equipment must be taken into consideration. By nature of its construction, some types of equipment will be more difficult to clean than others. Hidden parts and blind holes present unique challenges.
Another important factor to consider is the how the equipment is used. Are you cleaning a dedicated production system or equipment that is used to produce a range of products? Processing equipment used to produce multiple products has a greater chance of cross contamination of ingredients.
Clean-in-place (CIP) or Clean-out-of-place (COP)?
CIP is generally used for large systems and components that cannot easily be taken apart. CIP often results in less downtime since it eliminates the need to take apart or move the equipment. Automated systems, spray systems and immersion are all examples of CIP operations.
COP is most often used for smaller pieces of equipment or smaller parts of larger equipment that can be removed and re-assembled after cleaning. COP can involve either manual washing or use of machine washers. Specific instructions for disassembling and re-assembling equipment must be followed.
Many cases for COP can become CIP with the use of laser cleaning. This can save huge quantity of time and reduce drastically production loss by cleaning.
There is no risk of shining too long in one spot with the laser gun. Once we’re through the pollution, you could shine on the surface for hours and nothing will happen. That’s because there’s no pollution anymore that absorbs the energy of the laser beams.
The laser beams will then just reflect on the metal without any effect. With other cleaning techniques, this is the case, which can lead to uneven wear and zones that are more sensitive to dirt accumulation than others. Or you don’t blast long enough on a zone, making it not completely clean. Neither one of these situations is desirable.
We are often asked about which parts are suitable for laser cleaning, by the pharmaceutical sector. The answer to that is very simple: any part, barrel, tank, etc. where we can reach a distance of 10 – 20 cm with the laser gun and that meets the following requirements:
It must be able to withstand a temperature of 100°C. The underlying material can’t be black, because then the workpiece itself will also absorb the heat.
This brings us to most metal parts (the sort of metal doesn’t matter) and a bunch of plastics. Some examples of components that are very suitable:
Reactor vessels, agitators, extrusion screws, air treatment, systems, storage tanks, tools, molds, presses, rolls and conveyors.