Schneider Electric: How an Uninterruptible Power Supply Supports Pharma 4.0

A reliable and continuous power supply is essential to any industrial process to avoid costly interruptions. But nowhere is it more critical than in a sterile environment that handles aseptic/biological manufacturing. A disruption can result in entire batches of product being scrapped, which can cost producers hundreds of thousands of dollars. This is why an industrial uninterruptible power supply (UPS) or backup power supply is important to provide continuous, quality power to prevent unplanned downtime and lost production.

The aseptic / biological manufacturing process

The aseptic/biological process is extremely delicate. This is a manufacturing process under meticulously controlled sterile conditions. Any failure in the process can lead to product deviations and even contamination of an entire batch in production. Various factors, such as pressure regimes, temperature, humidity and airborne particles, can lead to product contamination if not managed properly. Similarly, the ability to properly manage electrical power can cause environmental factors to fail.

Regulated process environments are so sensitive that simply avoiding failure is not enough. This is a given in any industrial environment, with a failure causing production lines to stop. Voltage deviations and current fluctuations can lead to out-of-specification environmental conditions, overheating of machinery and reduced life of an asset.

Even a minor voltage fluctuation or disturbance can ruin a batch in the aseptic/biological process. To complicate matters, some interruptions require notification to regulators. When this happens, a regulatory body must determine if the lot is safe to use or should be discarded. If the lot can move forward, it still costs between $10,000 and $20,000 to have it inspected. However, if thrown, the loss is much greater.

Achieving power quality

Pharmaceutical companies that encounter production problems can end up with product shortages, which damages their reputation. Many facilities can experience outages due to extreme weather conditions or system failures caused by aging infrastructure. Voltage sags and current fluctuations can also occur if utilities change their power generation mix to include micro-generation and renewables.

Power distribution systems are under more pressure than ever as industry embraces Pharma 4.0, undergoing a digital transformation to leverage automation and increase efficiency. However, while digitalization offers significant benefits, it also places an additional burden on electrical systems.

It is estimated that 30-40% of business downtime is related to power quality issues. Biopharmaceutical companies must therefore take concrete measures to avoid these problems. And that means investing in rugged uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems that help protect aseptic/biological processing as well as other critical systems that affect production quality, such as HVAC. A reliable power supply for HVAC systems is about as important as running the aseptic/biological process itself.

Uninterruptible power supply ― More than just backup power

A UPS solves power quality problems in several ways, including using power factor correction (PFC) which regulates the input current and an inverter which conditions the output voltage. UPS systems provide isolation and protection against voltage spikes, over and under voltages, frequency variations, and harmonic and power factor issues. Systems come with batteries for short-term backup power when needed. If an outage exceeds battery life, the UPS can perform a graceful shutdown.

Schneider Electric offers a variety of industrial UPS systems to help biopharmaceutical producers protect the aseptic process, comply with regulatory mandates, and avoid the types of failures that lead to substantial recovery costs and damaged reputations. Learn more about the benefits of an industrial UPS system and how it can dramatically improve operations and prevent production losses. Also access more information on solutions for the life sciences industries of the future to see how technology innovation can improve your business.

Alan A. Seibert