Refining design in partnership

Insight from Mark Embury of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Bioprocessing Equipment (ASME BPE) and ASPECO.

Although it has remained relatively insulated from the broader global economic trends, the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry has continued to focus on improving bioprocessing technologies to reduce costs and increase efficiencies.

ASEPCO was born out of a failed venture in the late 1980’s. A burgeoning valve manufacturer in Sweden had made an attempt to open a subsidiary in the US but soon ran into financial difficulty. Experts left in the region, who had worked to set up the second branch, found themselves in a position without a company to work for. They decided to pick up where the other company left off and, for a couple of years, worked closely with tank fabricators. This offered an experience to learn first-hand the complications that tank and valve manufacturers in the industry were facing, whilst responding in real-time to bespoke customer needs.

The design process at ASEPCO is not formal in the way that is typical of most out-of-the-box product manufacturers. The chemistry ASEPCO’s products come into contact with dictates the suitability of the materials of construction, and every customers’ requirement is different. The decisions that are made in the design process, in the case of the tank-bottom valve for example, respond to an inherent desire within the industry to get the best process characteristics in a vessel.

In the development of the product, ASEPCO engineers found that the design of some competitor valves were simply a modified version of an existing valve design. This left a well, or pool, where material could settle. By re-designing the geometries of the valve, the final product ASEPCO developed provides a more defined sealing edge, creating a much shallower well, removing the issues in a process.

ASEPCO’s tank valve technology is not unique in the market. There are subtle characteristics within its design, such as simple clamp assembly, that makes for a quick maintenance cycle. Though, what the development of the product demonstrates is a dedication to product design that is built on simplicity. By supporting a process, experts’ at ASEPCO become a member of their customer’s team.

 
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