Spirax Sarco helps improve efficiency at Piramal Healthcare

Automatic pump traps are to be fitted on ovens to improve temperature control

The Piramal Healthcare production site in Morpeth, Northumberland

Effective condensate removal has reduced tablet drying times on steam-heated ovens at contract manufacturer Piramal Healthcare’s production site in Morpeth, Northumberland, UK.

Automatic pump traps (APTs) supplied by Spirax Sarco have proved so effective at improving temperature control and solving maintenance problems on three of the company’s ovens that Piramal plans to install them on the site’s two remaining units.

‘The temperature control on the ovens was previously ±5oC, but now it’s accurate to ±0.5oC,’ says Mechanical Engineer Paul Lunn. ‘We don’t know exactly how much we’re saving, but we know that the improved control must be saving energy because it’s reducing the drying time.’

The build-up of condensate was also causing corrosion and erosion in the heating coils. Piramal typically had to replace each coil once or twice a year, putting an oven out of action for three days every time.

We haven’t had any problems with the coils since the Spirax Sarco pump traps were installed

As well as the cost of the repairs and downtime, any product in the oven when a coil sprang a leak had to be scrapped.

‘We haven’t had any problems with the coils since the Spirax Sarco pump traps were installed. I’d say the reduction in maintenance has been the biggest benefit for me,’ adds Lunn.

All the problems were caused by a build-up of liquid condensate in the steam coils. Back pressure made the liquid difficult to clear using conventional steam traps, but APTs from Spirax Sarco clear condensate effectively, even under vacuum.

If the pressure in the system falls, the steam-driven APTs actively pump the condensate away

The APTs act like steam traps to drain the condensate normally as long as there is positive pressure in the steam coils. But if the pressure in the system drops below the condensate back pressure, the steam-driven APTs actively pump the condensate away.

‘We’ve worked well with Spirax Sarco before and this time the local engineer worked with us to design a solution and apply it successfully,’ says Lunn.

‘Now we’ve seen how well the APTs are working on the first three ovens we’re planning to fit them on the other two.’

Piramal Healthcare took over the Morpeth site in 2006, where it continues to make hormone-based products, including oral contraceptives.

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