Single-use plastic has gotten a lot of negative attention from climate activists and understandably so. However, it has a place in the manufacture of pharmaceutical products and can actually be demonstrably better for the environment than the alternative.
There are countless articles about the rise of single-use systems being used in the pharmaceutical industry. It’s certainly a big trend at the moment and for understandable reasons. However, these systems aren’t even as new as you would imagine – apparently, they were being used as far back as the 1980s.
For us at Solo Containment, our entire business is based upon the principles of single-use, disposable containment systems. Back in 2011, Martyn Ryder saw a gap in the UK market for this kind of containment, especially for quality pieces of kit that contain products but also as importantly, protect workers. All with the same standards as traditional hard-shell isolators. MR passionately believes in the technology of flexible film and, along with his many, equally as qualified colleagues at Solo Containment, is pushing the boundaries of film and what it can achieve.
As campaign runs get shorter and shorter, the cleaning needs to happen more frequently. But if you don’t have to have a cleaning process, bang – you can get straight on with the next campaign.
The main benefits of flexible film containment and aseptic isolators are always seen as cost-based ones. Cheap, quick and easy to commission and set up.
Seems sensible enough and they are valid points of consideration. But we find they are always followed by “…but it has a high lifetime cost…” (meaning the cost of purchasing repeat enclosures add up over time whereas a hard shell has just one capital investment).
However, there are several flaws in this mindset. It completely overlooks the other benefits of single-use. Namely: zero cleaning validation.
How long does it take to clean equipment down after a campaign? You’ll know this better than us, but we appreciate it can be a pain. Especially if you are changing between products that have a range of potencies. It doesn’t even bear thinking about cross-contamination.
As campaign runs get shorter and shorter, the cleaning needs to happen more frequently. But if you don’t have to have a cleaning process, bang – you can get straight on with the next campaign. So, when we say that flexible film makes your plant more flexible to the market, that is what we mean! You can skip the costly, timely process altogether and
If it fails and you have to go back and do it all again, that is costly unexpected downtime for your plant. It will have a knock on to other jobs and could affect your ability to score future work. So, by switching to a flexible system, you are removing a sizable risk factor from your schedule.
Oh, and how much does a validation cost? Add that, and the cleaning costs (chemicals, water, energy, labour) to the list of savings and suddenly, that repeat enclosure cost is looking much more reasonable.
By adding a flexible enclosure to your pharma manufacturing plant, you make your production much more agile and flexible (pun intended). You are better placed to respond to changing customer demands. The changeover between campaigns goes from being days plus, to hours. Yes, hours.
Solo Containment’s enclosures come ready to plug and play. They can come gamma irradiated. For really potent drug handling, they can even come with many disposable features as part of the film enclosure (balances, filters etc) so they there is no need for cleaning those.