Life Sciences

Power quality is critical for reduced downtime and quality compliance. Contact Denison Technologies today to protect your plant against unplanned disruptions.

Power Quality in Pharmaceutical Manufacturing

The US Pharmaceutical industry is one of the country's largest industries, accounting for over 4.7 million employees, mostly skilled labor. According to the Pharmaceutical Research Manufacturing Association, the US accounts for over half of the world's research and development ($75 Billion in 2017), and US firms hold over half of the world's intellectual property rights for most new medicines. Helping pharmaceutical manufacturing remain competitive is good for today's business and our future prosperity.

Manufacturing consumes approximately 30 percent of the nation's energy. Pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers are large energy consumers whose processes depend on consistent, reliable, and high quality power.
Pharmaceutical manufacturing disruptions impose regulatory, reporting, compliance and product delivery challenges beyond those of most industries. Industry experts estimate that the Total Downtime Cost (TDC) of a production disruption in pharmaceutical manufacturing at $100K - $500K USD per hour. Reducing disruptions and improving power quality used by pharmaceutical manufacturers can substantially improve operations, profitability, and product safety. (Source: Rockwell Automation).

Most pharmaceutical manufacturers do not measure and monitor power quality, even though cost-effective, scalable and secure solutions exist, and the economic benefits are clear. Poor power can have a significant negative impact in the mixing, processing, and packaging processes used in life sciences - with potential consequence to quality, scheduling, and regulatory compliance in addition to costs associated with production disruption.

For example, voltage sags can impact chillers, mixers, and dichrofarel coaters, with substantial impact to the chemical compounding of the product - leading to production disruptions, scrap, quality rissues, and customer service issues given the preponderance of just-in-time manufacturing. A failed compressor due to a power related event can result in production stoppage with severe product impact due to a lack of air or refrigeration.

Power quality events can cause loss of critical data necessary for FDA reporting (such as temperature data possibly compromised when a compressor fails) unless poor power quality is remediated. Protecting valuable IP in addition to retention of data to ensure regulatory compliance dictate that everyone in the supply chain be aware of and put into practice broad and appropriate security safeguards.

Like most manufacturing, the pharmaceutical industry is faced with reductions in technical staff and shortages of skilled workers to troubleshoot production disruptions. Power quality solutions will reduce these costly disruptions and reduce the strain on remaining staff. Fortunately, solutions exist today.

Power Quality in Healthcare Facilities

Power is mission critical in the healthcare industry. Without the delivery and use of high quality power, disruptions in hospital operations can potentially impact heath and even cost lives. Equipment such as MRIs, CT, X Ray, ultrasound, and nuclear machinery provided by large OEM's like GE Medical, Phillips, and Siemens all require a consistent and reliable source of high quality power. Power is so important in hospitals that backup generator(s) are legally required and must be tested regularly. Hospitals also have specialized National Electrical Code requirements for wiring techniques and uninterruptible power supplies.

Most medium-sized hospitals experience an average of 20 power-related disruptions per year, often lasting only a few cycles in duration, and therefore hard to detect.
However, industry experts believe that approximately 20 percent of these disruptions can be prevented with appropriate power quality programs, real-time monitoring and proper mitigation devices. (Source: Rockwell Automation).

Yet most hospitals have not put in place appropriate monitoring systems to analyze and prevent future occurrences. Why? Many reasons exist. Often, most operations teams are spread thin focusing mostly on day to-day maintenance, without a detailed understanding of power quality issues. These same operations teams are often unaware of the available technologies and the proper design of solutions. Much like their hospital practitioner brethren who often rely on information supplied and recommended by pharmaceutical OEMs, operations must collaborate with OEM and power quality technology partners to solve these complex problems.

Like other industries, poor power quality can impact hospital operations and delivery of patient care. Equipment such as imaging, electrosurgical, and dialysis machines can malfunction, fail, or be damaged. Disruptions can create negative consequences - impacting patient treatment and scheduling, reduction in hospital billings, maintenance and replacement costs, and even costlier compliance issues.

A disruption impacting operations and billing can cost a
hospital $100 per minute in downtime and lost billing. In fact, a 2-hour disruption impacting a single MRI can cost the hospital over $125K USD. Reducing these disruptions increases efficiency and utilization rates for both machines and people.

To better understand the issue, we need to understand also how power is delivered from the energy producer. Hospitals use the same power grid as other facilities, and the backup generators are only used when utility power is lost. The generator does not start instantly, casuing deep sags in power, and potentially disrupting or damaging other equipment.

Critical devices are powered using a double conversion uninterruptible power supply. Double conversion UPSs convert all incoming AC to DC, apply this DC to a battery bank, and convert the DC to AC for distribution to critical patient care areas. While immune to voltage sags, constant conversion UPSs create other issues. Energy is lost in the conversion and battery charging processes. The input draws harmonic currents, which may affect other devices on the utility AC supply, or cause the backup generator to trip or overheat. The AC output may contain harmonics as a result of solid state conversion. Mitigating these power quality issues will reduce the hospital's operating expenses and increase the lifetimes of critical and expensive equipment.

AHigh speed switching on the grid can cause short term voltage disruptions that can impact hospital equipment - fitted with very sensitive electronics and costly to repair and replace. Monthly testing of hospital generators, mandated by regulatory authorities, can also cause damage or disruptions to unprotected equipment.

The healthcare industry faces challenges due to regulatory constraints. Many state laws prevent hospitals from using closed transition transfer switches that will reduce the disruption when the backup generator is tested. By federal law, hospitals cannot use load banks for full load generator testing, so have to leave vulnerable equipment running and on-line. Due to possible damage to high cost equipment, most hospitals turn the equipment off anyway for several hours to conduct the test, resulting in NFPA and JCAHO compliance issues. This downtime impacts delivery of needed services and increases costs.

Although the issues are complex and consequences potentially substantial, solutions exist today to monitor and engineer remedial actions. Cloud-based, scalable, industrial hardened SCADA systems allow remote monitoring of power. Monitoring equipment and corrective devices provide a cost effective and easy to implement solution. Correcting hospital power quality has substantial impact to the bottom line, and may even save lives. The best part - solutions are available today.