A quick fix for Albumedix

Published: 16-Jun-2023

Nottingham-based pharmaceutical manufacturer, Albumedix, has long been a leader in the field of recombinant albumin-based solutions. However, when a power cut-induced water leak threatened to derail operations, swift action was required to ensure that this problem did not escalate into a full-blown crisis. Fortunately, one of Alfa Laval’s field service engineers was at hand to get things back up and running

Human serum albumin (HSA) is the most abundant protein in human blood, comprising around 50% of the total plasma proteins. Its role within the body is critical, maintaining oncotic pressure and buffering pH alongside a variety of other functions.

Moreover, thanks to its resilient structure, HSA is also resistant to environmental pressure both inside and outside of the body.

This opens the door to a virtually limitless number of medical applications, ranging from instrument coating to the treatment of sepsis.

Although albumin’s use in the medical sphere dates as far back as the 1940s, many of its more advanced applications have only been unlocked in the past few decades, indicating that much of this incredible protein’s potential is yet to be explored.

One of the leading figures in HSA research is Nottingham-based Albumedix, which has been researching and developing recombinant albumin-based products for more than 30 years using a proprietary yeast expression system.

A quick fix for Albumedix

During this time, the business has made use of an Alfa Laval BTUX 510 nozzle disc stack separator to remove waste yeast cells from the production stream prior to filtering for downstream processing.

However, when a power cut caused water contamination to seep into the centrifuge’s gearbox, the entire process line was at threat of being put out of action.

Matthew Hind, Engineering Manager at Albumedix, said: “The BTUX 510 has been a key part of our process line for as long as I can remember and has been able to continue performing to the level required thanks to regular servicing from the manufacturer. When it’s not in action, we’re simply not getting products out of the door.”

With thousands of working hours going into each product before reaching the separator, this issue could prove to be a significant detriment to both productivity and profitability if not addressed.

Moreover, given the company’s position as one of the world’s leading centres for albumin research and manufacturing, such an outage could potentially have knock-on effects for wider pharmaceutical supply chains.

However, thanks to Albumedix’s longstanding relationship with Alfa Laval, the company was in a position to quickly remedy this issue through an emergency callout.

A quick fix for Albumedix

After the source of the problem was identified, one of Alfa Laval’s specialist field service engineers, Richard Morley, was quickly at hand to get the system up and running again as soon as possible.

Richard said: “Our servicing agreement with Albumedix usually consists of an intermediate service every 6 months and a major review every year. On this occasion, we were here to address water contamination in the BTUX 510’s gearbox, which had the potential to disrupt the entire process line if not addressed."

"We first started by stripping the machine out and changing the bearings, which would allow us to get the machine operational in a timely manner.”

“I’ve been at Alfa Laval for just longer than 12 months now, although my original introduction to the company was as a customer (working for a brewery in West Yorkshire)."

"Having been on the other end of this relationship, I can speak for the value that having a servicing partner brings to a business. You’re not just investing in a premium product, but a first-class service that provides an unrivalled sense of peace of mind.” 

Matthew concluded: “Our partnership with Alfa Laval goes back as far as our investment in the machine itself. During this time, they’ve never offered us a reason to change supplier."

"We feel as though we can depend on them to maintain the centrifuge or be at hand should an emergency strike, which was certainly the case on this occasion. Thanks to Richard’s help, we were able to get the BTUX 510 back up and running in no time with minimal impact on the wider process.”

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