Tips to Manage Temporary Power, Cooling, and Heating

Temporary power, HVAC, and oil-free compressor systems provide flexibility and control for pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities.

Contract manufacturing organizations (CMOs) face rising pressure to run operations with greater efficiency to reduce costs. To achieve their efficiency goals, some CMOs turn to temporary power, temperature control, and  oil-free air and moisture control systems to keep sterile conditions and to meet strict temperature and humidity levels at manufacturing sites. Pharmaceutical manufacturers may also use temporary systems during construction or expansion projects.

Rent to reduce costs

Renting these systems helps reduce capital expenditures because a facility only uses the equipment as-needed and avoids staffing, maintenance, and service contract-related expenses for owned equipment. Engineers can design scalable, temporary systems to reduce the risk of unnecessary plant equipment upon the expiration of a CMO’s contract with a pharmaceutical company. 

For example, a CMO facility used a temporary, ultra-low temperature process chiller instead of purchasing a new permanent unit for its distillation column batch process as part of its one-year contract with a pharmaceutical company. The rental chiller-using more than 1200 tons of installed temporary cooling-provided better cash flow to support operation and better control of utility systems as production schedules of the plant fluctuated. As the facility has brought on new distillation column batch processes, the temporary ultralow process chiller system was able to be scaled up with no capital expenditure and installation and start-up within days, not months or years.  

Keep controlled conditions 

Production lines, research labs, and warehouses in the pharmaceutical industry require carefully controlled conditions to avoid non-compliance of the product. Temporary systems and 24/7 remote monitoring not only keep production at strictly controlled conditions but also send immediate alerts of compromised conditions. 

For example, when GlaxoSmithKline replaced its permanent cooling system at the Rixensart vaccine production site, they relied on temporary cooling to preserve operations and the integrity of the site. The facility designed an efficient power and cooling system based on its exact needs, installing four 250-hp pumps, two 800-ton water-cooled chillers, and five 350-kVA generators. Due to the production site’s highly sensitive temperature control, noise level, and moisture environment, Aggreko placed an expert onsite to control the system, as well as 24/7 remote monitoring with an active alert system to notify the customer if vaccine cultures or the noise level strayed outside strict parameters.

A significant component of pharmaceutical operations and compliance is the use and maintenance of 100% oil-free air (OFA) systems.  OFA provides a vital support component for pharmaceutical manufacturing processes to maintain a safe, clean working environment and smooth-running, reliable operations. To ensure 100% uptime, many have strategic partners to supply temporary compressor packages. These include diesel or electric-driven OFA compressors as well as solutions to enhance an air stream as it relates to dew-point and temperature. If a compressor line requires strict temperature or dew-point control, a desiccant or refrigerated dryer and other types of after-coolers and air-treatment systems would be required. 

Meet strict regulations

Pharmaceutical industry regulations require that manufacturers, processors, and packagers of drugs take proactive steps to ensure safe and effective products. Just like permanent units, temporary or emergency heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems must operate under current good manufacturing practices (cGMP).  

Energy efficiency measures incorporated into HVAC systems must conform to current cGMP. Although cGMP allows for new HVAC techniques, the additional time required and the risks associated with a delay in the approval of building plans may lead some drug companies to use less energy-efficient designs that eventually need replacement. Companies should partner with a reliable third-party temporary utility company to understand the operation, assess equipment needs, and suggest the best way to keep the process running safely during essential maintenance.

About the author

Nick Marr is the Northeast Region Sales Manager at Aggreko, nick.marr@aggreko.com.