The Client

One of our key clients is amongst the world’s largest global but UK-based pharmaceutical companies with important operating sites across the world.

The Background

Due to the expertise and experience within our Process Engineering team, we were commissioned to carry out a FEED study which would identify a forward upgrade path for machines that had become progressively less reliable and were becoming obsolete. Safety, high maintenance costs and poor uptime were the key drivers.

Suitable replacement technology was to be identified and capital cost estimated for inclusion in the site capital programme.

The Solution

Since replacement new for old was a serious contender, it was important to understand the root causes of poor reliability and failures to ensure any potential underlying pitfalls could be avoided with the new machines. Identification could also help ongoing operation until replacement technology is implemented.

The favoured way forward was a direct replacement but using fewer and larger machines. During the study however, the supplier confirmed that only smaller machines would be available and with space constraints, at a much higher overall capital cost.

Alternative, simpler machines were identified with a much lower overall cost that could be retrofitted into the existing facility but requiring process changes to prevent significant solids formation.

Detailed investigation and analysis revealed the root causes of most of the reliability problems and, following minor changes were largely resolved.

The alternative extraction technology had potential implications on the operation of the downstream solvent recovery operation. Controlled trials were carried to understand the issues but instead demonstrated higher than expected capability, irrespective of feedstock.

Benefits for Client

  • Booth Welsh engineers had niche expertise and experience in the central process technologies – Extraction, Centrifugal Separators & Solvent Recovery
  • Principal root causes of reliability issues identified and problems substantially resolved
  • Development of an improvement plan for other reliability problems
  • Significant improvement in machine reliability: Reduced maintenance costs, better up-time & system capability which de-bottlenecked the process stage
  • Demonstrated improvements in the downstream solvent recovery process which was also de-bottlenecked
  • Identified alternative equipment and developed project scope for Replacement Project