Parker Hannifin's membrane dryers are being used by Axis-Shield to ensure the integrity of the drying agent bags and cotton and cellulose pads supplied with its diagnostic test products.
Axis-Shield provides in vitro diagnostic tests for use in both clinical laboratories and at the point of care. In the laboratory sector the company specialises in developing proprietary markers for the diagnosis and management of critical illnesses, such as cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases and rheumatoid arthritis, while at the point of care its products include devices able to perform multiple analyses, on-the-spot, using blood, plasma or urine samples.
Einar Mork, Senior Scientist for Axis-Shield, explains the company's requirements: "Before installing the membrane dryers, we were unable to control fully the dryness of the bags of drying agent and cotton and cellulose pads that were packaged with our diagnostic products. This made our quality control processes difficult and led to unnecessary waste, making it clear that we needed to implement a solution that could ensure a dry environment for the relevant parts of our production lines."
Axis-Shield approached Parker, having used the company's membrane dryers with success in its R&D laboratory to create a dry environment inside a chamber used for handling moisture-sensitive materials. Parker suggested using its latest point-of-use membrane dryers.
Two membrane dryers were installed, positioned to keep incoming materials in the automated assembly process as dry as possible. The first unit maintains a dry environment for the desiccant bags before they are packed together with the company's products, while the second dries a cotton pad before assembly into a diagnostic test device.
The membrane dryers operate by filtering the water vapour from a condensed air source through the hollow fibres in the specially designed membrane. The resulting clean, dry air is then fed to the production line. Additionally, a small portion of the dry air is redirected along the length of the fibres to sweep out and vent to atmosphere the vapour-laden air that has permeated the membrane.
Membrane dryers are simpler and more economical than conventional refrigerant dryers, which produce a condensate that needs to be regularly disposed of. As they require no electricity, the devices are extremely inexpensive to run, while the only maintenance required is to change the filter twice per year, typically taking around five minutes annually.
Einar Mork is impressed with the results, saying: "Parker's advice and support has been important for us. Installing the membrane dryers has meant that we are no longer vulnerable to differences in air moisture from day to day, protecting the moisture-sensitive components on our production line, and help us ensuring good product quality. The dryers were simple and fast to implement, and run reliably and silently, enabling us to concentrate on developing and delivering our excellent products."