Thermal flow switch enables COVID-19 vaccine production

Monday, 26 April, 2021 | Supplied by: AMS Instrumentation & Calibration Pty Ltd

The FLT93C sanitary thermal flow switch, manufactured by Fluid Components International (FCI) and distributed by AMS Instrumentation & Calibration, is helping a major pharmaceutical company ensure the necessary high quality of its rinse water for injection (WFI) is maintained on its batch lines during the production of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The FLT93C is a dual-function instrument that indicates both flow and temperature and/or level sensing in a single device, with dual 6 A relay outputs independently configurable to flow, level or temperature. Based on FCI’s thermal dispersion expertise, the switch’s sensor technology enables high-performance capabilities, including liquid level resolution of ±2.5 mm with repeatability of ±1.3 mm and standard temperature accuracy ±1°C with repeatability is ±0.6°C (improved temperature accuracy is available with factory calibration). FCI’s FlexSwitch technology can be packaged in integral or remote configurations for installation flexibility.

In the pharmaceutical industry, WFI is high-quality water used to produce a wide variety of injectable medicines, including the COVID-19 vaccine. On the COVID-19 vaccine production lines, WFI is used for rinsing after batch production, and it must be maintained at a temperature of 20 to 85°C. FLT93C sanitary thermal flow switches are utilised to confirm the minimum flow rate of the measured WFI within the specified temperature range during production; a minimum flow at the correct temperature and time is required to rinse the COVID-19 vaccine production lines to ensure that these lines are clean and free from bacteria or leftover ingredients from the previous batch.

After a batch of vaccine is complete, the cleaning process begins and the switch then issues a liquid low flow alarm to indicate the line can be released to start the next batch of vaccine production. The sanitary flanges designed for the switch support a clean and safe installation of the instrument in the production process, which is critical to produce safe, effective COVID-19 vaccine.

Designed with temperature compensation technology, the FLT93C is claimed to be the industry’s only thermal switch that ensures setpoint accuracy for process temperatures that can vary up to 177°C. It is easily field-configured or factory preset, providing flexibility and stability for all multiple process sensing and switching requirements.

The flow switch is suitable for 19.05 to 101.6 mm sanitary tubing process lines, and it connects with a secure tri-clamp fitting for easy removal for inspection and servicing. The 316L stainless steel wetted materials are available in both mechanical polish (SF0 to SF3) and electro-polish (SF5 and SF6) surface finishes with 20 Ra maximum (µin) finish; 10 Ra maximum (µin) electro-polish finish (SF 4) is available on request. Construction complies with ASME BPE requirements.

The switch is available with a choice of sensors, including one that is suitable for process temperatures up to 177°C and one that is suitable for temperatures up to 260°C. In addition to clean-in-place (CIP) systems, other pharmaceutical uses of the flow switch include compendial water systems (WFI, PW and HPW) and solution preparation systems (buffer solution). Options are available for applications requiring more corrosion-resistant, wetted materials such as Hastelloy C and Zone 1/21 (Class 1, Div 1 and 2) hazardous areas.

“We are extremely proud of the role our sanitary flow switch products are now playing in fighting coronavirus disease,” said FCI President Dan McQueen. “Our dedicated, innovative employees have been exceptional in assuring that we can continue to produce and deliver our flow instruments to customers in the pharmaceutical, food/beverage, energy and other essential industries around the globe.”

Top image credit: © Thew

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