The primary assets to monitor in any PdM program for pharmaceutical or biotech facilities are HVAC, pumps and mixers critical to a validated batch manufacturing process, and utilities related to validated liquids manufacturing such as DI and WFI water. This includes Air Handling Units (AHU’s) and Steam & Chiller Plants. Most steam plants on pharmaceutical campuses are identical to small power plants, using gas boilers or gas turbines, boiler feed pumps, ID/FD fans and related support equipment. In addition, research facilities and scientific labs need adequate and consistent heating, cooling and supply of pure and validated water.
Process equipment is historically ignored in this industry as critical, with most pharmaceutical sites
opting for Predictive Maintenance (PdM) on their HVAC systems. Often overlooked are the small pumps or agitator mixers used on batch reactors that are ultra-critical. An entire batch in a reactor could be lost to a $3,000.00 pump or mixer without predictive monitoring. If either of these pieces of equipment maintained temperature or a controlled reaction and that control was lost, it is not unusual to hear the $3,000.00 equipment failure cost the millions in lost product and disposal costs.
HVAC Units, Steam Plants and support equipment and Chiller Plants are generally the most well-known assets to monitor in a Pharmaceutical facility, but criticality assessments must be done to determine any other equipment that could have dire consequences if it fails.