The Benefits of Using Ultrasonic Cleaning for Pharmaceutical Equipment

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Pharmaceutical applications involve equipment with complex parts which can be very difficult to clean. Components like hoses, filters, and valves can present a particularly tough challenge. Using traditional methods to clean pharmaceutical equipment is time-consuming and may provide incomplete cleaning. This isn’t good news when you’re trying to meet the strict regulations and standards within the industry. Thankfully, there is a better way: pharmaceutical ultrasonic cleaning.

An ultrasonic cleaner will have the job done in a fraction of the time you would spend on traditional cleaning methods. And it will ensure that every part of the equipment is completely free of residue, eliminating contamination concerns. What’s more, ultrasonic cleaning is gentle enough that you don’t have to worry about damage to your equipment.

Here, we go into detail about how a pharmaceutical ultrasonic cleaning tank works and the benefits of using this over regular cleaning methods.

How pharmaceutical ultrasonic cleaning works

An ultrasonic cleaner is a specialized piece of equipment that cleans using high-frequency sound waves. The equipment to be cleaned sits entirely submerged in a bath of cleaning liquid. An ultrasonic transducer is responsible for producing sound waves that disrupt the liquid.

This disruption results in the production of tiny bubbles filled with vapor. When these bubbles meet the surface of an object, they collapse, prompting the release of high-temperature jets of liquid. This process is known as cavitation.

The force from the hot liquid jets is strong enough to dislodge contaminants that are adhered to the surface of the submerged object. Particulates that have been removed are filtered away so they won’t recontaminate the equipment.

In a pharmaceutical lab environment, ultrasonic cleaning can be used for a whole range of equipment and parts, including filters, hoses, valves, tubes, pipes, molds, and punches.

The benefits of pharmaceutical ultrasonic cleaning

Labor-intensive equipment cleaning is often simply accepted as part of the workday. However, an increasing number of pharmaceutical product manufacturers are opting for ultrasonic cleaning instead. While it requires an upfront investment in equipment, it can help save time and money in the long term.

Here are the main benefits of opting for a pharmaceutical ultrasonic tank instead of sticking with regular cleaning methods:

1. Your parts will be thoroughly cleaned

Production of things like ointments and tablets can leave a lot of residue on various components of your equipment. It’s very difficult to remove all traces of product using traditional cleaning methods such as agitation and scrubbing. Even when using harsh chemicals it can be tough (or impossible) to remove all residue from hard-to-reach places like threads, crevices, and the inside of hoses.

These concerns are alleviated when you use an ultrasonic cleaner. Any surface area that’s in contact with the cleaning liquid will be reached by the cavitation bubbles. This means that all parts of the submerged object will be thoroughly cleaned. This is especially important when equipment is used for batches of different products and cross-contamination is a concern.

The frequency of some ultrasonic cleaners can be adjusted. At higher frequencies, you can clean at the sub-micron level which is desirable for many pharmaceutical equipment components such as filters and punches.

2. You can avoid downtime and reduce man-hours

Traditional cleaning methods can be extremely time-consuming. Not only do you have to clean every part by hand, but you also have to dismantle equipment and separate every component ready for cleaning.

Ultrasonic cleaners can clean far quicker, reducing equipment downtime and improving productivity. It can take just a few minutes of cleaning to achieve results that may not even be possible by traditional methods.

You can even leave the machine unattended while cleaning so that other tasks may be completed. This will free up lab personnel to focus on more important tasks. It may even mean that you don’t need to hire additional personnel for the sole purpose of equipment cleaning.

3. Some cleaners are specifically designed for pharmaceutical equipment

Are you worried about using a general ultrasonic cleaner for cleaning delicate parts? You may be able to find equipment that has been designed specifically to clean your components.

For example, we’ve created a custom filter ultrasonic tank. This will eliminate the need for the painstaking task of cleaning filters by hand and optimize the performance of your filters.

A custom ultrasonic filter cleaning system

4. There’s less exposure to harsh chemicals

To get as thorough a clean as possible when using traditional cleaning methods, you’ll often have to opt for harsh chemicals. Personnel must wear additional personal protective equipment or risk exposure to these materials, often for long periods while hand cleaning is in progress. What’s more, there’s a risk these toxic substances could remain on components and contaminate products in future runs.

An ultrasonic cleaner allows for a hands-off approach, minimizing exposure. It’s also usually not necessary to use harsh chemicals. Due to the force of the cavitation process, a gentler cleaning liquid can typically be used, and with better results at that.

Further, you can be sure that all parts will be reached during the rinse cycle so you don’t have to worry about traces of cleaning agents remaining on the equipment.

5. You can prolong the life of your equipment

Cleaning via traditional methods can cause buildup of residue over time, for example, on things like filters, to the point where parts are deemed unusable. Also, harsh chemicals and vigorous cleaning methods can damage components, forcing you to retire equipment prematurely.

As mentioned, with some ultrasonic cleaners, you can adjust the frequency. The higher the frequency, the more gentle the clean, and the lower the chance of damage. The thorough cleaning also means you don’t get the debris buildup you normally would.

You may even be able to use ultrasonic cleaning to salvage parts that you had thought were unusable. For example, filters can be very difficult to clean thoroughly via regular cleaning, requiring them to be frequently replaced. Filter ultrasonic cleaning can help prolong the life of your filter multiple times over.

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