If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own. ~ Henry Ford
Like Henry Ford, ASEPCO knows that the way to our customers’ hearts is to produce high-quality, long-lasting products at affordable prices. Our two diaphragm material surveys were designed to learn more about your needs and preferences with respect to diaphragm longevity and affordability.
The answers to all the questions were quite varied. We believe this is due to the wide range of jobs that our respondents have and the wide range of industries they work in.
Q2 What is your job function?
35% of the respondents were engineers; 15% were project managers; and 14% were buyers. The other 18% listed roles such as sales manager, service manager, educator, construction manager, storeroom leader, inside sales, bio-technician, maintenance supervisor, and supply team leader.
50% of our respondents were from the biopharmaceutical industry, 14% from the pharmaceutical industry; and another 27% from miscellaneous fields including tank manufacturing, process skid design, fermentation, the rubber industry, and dairy.
We have always wondered what materials people can use within their plants. 90% of our respondents can use PTFE (Teflon); 80% can use EPDM and Silicone; and a little less than half can use Mod-PTFE, as well as Silicone and EPDM with a Parylene coating.
Q4 Which industry are you in?
But what do people use? Everyone uses at least some PTFE in their facility or products, but only 5% use 80-100% PTFE. Most people also use EPDM in their facilities, and for 20% of the respondents, more than 80% of their facility’s diaphragms are made of EPDM.
It lasted for a long time, I believe. A very long time. It was a great success, but even great successes come to a natural end. ~ Isaac Asimov, Robots and Empire
What are the most important qualities of a diaphragm? Longevity and resistance to steam were selected as the most important qualities; resistance to harsh chemicals was also a favorite.
What are the most common issues with diaphragms that our respondents see? Cold flow was an issue that PTFE users see nearly always. Over 20 percent marked sticking and saw this issue frequently. All of the problems that we listed are seen at least occasionally. And what is the most highly ranked reason for diaphragm failure? Material incompatibility was first (33%), with technician error not far behind (24%). Vendor modification was the most uncommon reason for failure.
Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently. ~ Henry Ford
Low cost was rated as the least important quality (57% ); however, in our first survey, increasing the cost of diaphragms was more controversial. Most respondents mentioned that they would need to see the performance numbers and certification before they would accept a significant price increase in diaphragms. And, it was clear that in most situations, performance data was more important than extractables data.
To us, the most interesting responses were with respect to the ability to change the materials that are used in your processes and products. 40% of respondents thought that it would be relatively or moderately easy for them to change materials. The rest thought that revalidation would be a significant issue, if they wanted to change materials.
Q7 How difficult is it for you to change diaphragm
materials in your processes?
30% of the respondents felt that they could change materials without revalidation, 30% thought that revalidation would be necessary, and another 30% weren’t sure. When do plants revalidate? 70% of respondents said that it happens when they select new materials.
As for the respondents’ influence in the decision of what materials to use, 35% believed that they had no or little influence; there were also a few lucky people who felt that they had too much influence.
Q4 What is your preventative maintenance
(diaphragm replacement) schedule frequency?
For preventative maintenance, most replace their diaphragms every six months or less. About 30% of the facilities keep their diaphragms in place for at least one year. When we asked how long the ideal replacement schedule was, nearly 50% of the respondents wanted it to be over 18 months and 20% wanted it to be at least a year. Several of the remaining 30% commented that they needed to change more often either because of the harshness of their process, or because they change the product that they are manufacturing, which requires that they change their diaphragms. 35% don’t increase diaphragm replacement frequency when the batch frequency increases, and interestingly enough nearly everyone increases the batch frequency as the process gets refined. Ah, those poor diaphragms!
Q5 In an ideal world, what would you like your preventative maintenance frequency to be?
Thanks to all of you who took our surveys! We know that many of the questions were not easy, but your responses were extremely helpful to us. Your years of experience—over 15 years for most respondents—were evident from your answers, especially your comments. A special thanks to the 10 people who took both surveys. These results are definitely guiding our diaphragm material development program.
To do more for the world than the world does for you—that is success. ~ Henry Ford