5 Water Quality Issues That Frustrate Medical Manufacturers

Highly purified water plays an important role in medical manufacturing

Medical manufacturers have a plethora of water quality concerns. With those concerns generally comes a hardy set of questions. Among them, five seem to pop up again and again.

Highly purified water isn’t only required by medical manufacturers. Medical packaging must also be sterilized and rinsed with deionized water, neutralizing all bacteria before leaving the facility.

If the water used for production has a high – or sometimes any – amount of Total Organic Carbon (TOC) or microbial growth, it can induce illness, or even death, in the end user. Moreover, even with the proper water treatment equipment and bacteria control systems in place, water quality and bacteria levels can still fluctuate if the system is not engineered and installed correctly.

To help you understand why, we’ll answer five of our most frequently asked questions from medical manufacturers.

Answers to Medical Manufacturing’s Frequent Water Quality Questions

1. Why am I finding bacteria in my system?

Configuration and maintenance mistakes can lead to big problems where bacteria is concerned. Here are three we commonly see:

A system wasn’t disinfected – All purified water systems must be routinely disinfected, either monthly, quarterly or annually. Neglect it, and bacteria will colonize in the system.

The piping was incorrectly installed – Purified water distribution piping generally fails in one or two ways: Excessive piping length and low flow velocity.

When piping systems are too long or contain dead legs, it leaves room for water to stagnate – the kind of stagnancy in which bacteria thrives. Similarly, water must flow at a high velocity to help deter microbial growth.

A service provider is inattentive – Water treatment vendors vary in size and purified water knowledge. Just one shortcut – like not using gloves while taking a water sample, can cause false positive test results.

2. Why are my TOC levels too high or fluctuating?

Total Organic Carbon is the most sensitive organic test for purified water, and is generally a higher concern for manufacturers of medical solutions or injectables.

TOC tests reveal any amount of microbial growth or organic content in a purified water sample. Many of the same configuration and maintenance mistakes concerning bacteria growth also apply to TOC levels.

In addition, misapplication of standard purified water treatment equipment (UV, final filters, UF) can add to the TOC loading in a water treatment system.

3. Why do I continually have equipment malfunctions?

Most of the ongoing equipment issues we see are caused by someone not understanding how to permanently fix the water treatment problem. These problems range from the frequent replacement of a purified water pump to ongoing system alarm issues.

Some medical manufacturers rely on Electro Deionization to purify their water. What they don’t often realize is that Electro Deionization is actually too complex for their application, and tends to have a much higher malfunction rate than standard deionization techniques.

4. Why does it take my service company more than 48 hours to arrive at my facility?

When your water quality drops or fluctuates, you don’t have the luxury of waiting for service. Yet, many water treatment vendors lack the necessary number of highly-skilled technicians for immediate response.

When choosing a service company, always inquire about response time. You’ll want to make sure they’re properly staffed with technicians who can provide assistance fast.

5. Should I lease or own this equipment?

Here’s a scenario we often see: Facilities start by purchasing the purified water equipment, but after a couple of successful years, the original system cannot keep up with their growing production.

In reality, leasing is a far more flexible option than purchasing for a growing business. That’s especially important considering companies typically outgrow equipment within five years. In addition, many leased systems can be upgraded and/or expanded as a facility grows.

Most leases also include a maintenance contract, so you won’t need to shell out additional capital for repairs.

There’s a lot on the line as a medical manufacturer. One water quality slip-up could cause serious illness, or even death, for the end user. We hope our answers to these questions help you understand frequently arising issues.

We’ll do more than give you a quote—we’ll visit your site to analyze your industrial water needs.

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