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10 Tools for a Successful Sanitary Vessel Partnership

As a manufacturer of custom vessels for essential industries, including pharmaceutical, life science, and healthcare, Apache provides processors with high-quality vessels with up-front technical collaboration, engineering support, and a solid compliance direction.  We bring these 10 tools to Sanitary Vessel customers:

  1. Technical Sales & Engineering Experts
    Apache’s experts are proficient in ASME and other compliance engineering for custom pressure vessels.  Our project engineering process guards the targeted outcomes of price, compliance, and delivery.
  2. All ASME Shop
    Apache is first and foremost an ASME shop, which means that all protocols follow ASME and other high compliance standards, from manufacturing, to certification to quality compliance.  
  3. Regulatory Compliance Legacy
    Custom vessels that meet regulatory compliance is what we do.  Apache has a legacy of manufacturing vessels for high-compliance industries, since 1975.
  4. Process Control
    It is the control over our processes that allows Apache to offer these highly specialized vessels manufactured to exact compliance specifications.
  5. Heat Exchange Expertise
    Our engineering experts are versed in heat exchange surfaces including conventional jackets, standard dimple, ½ pipe, 1/3 pipe, inflated dimple and internal coils.
  6. In-House Metal Finishing Investment
    Metal finishing including manual, robotic and chemical finishing are all in-house processes.
  7. Project Management
    Apache’s engineering team provides technical support and expertise on new vessel projects to ensure vessel compliance.
  8. Dedicated Quality Assurance Team
    Apache has a dedicated quality assurance department that focuses on full verification, testing, and documentation of compliance documents.
  9. In-house Tests and Documentation
    Numerous testing and processes are performed in-house by experiences and certified ASME technicians and inspectors.
  10. Industry Experience
    Apache has served sanitary industries with custom pressure vessels for over 40 years.

Apache upholds certifications including, ASME U Certificate, ASME UM Certificate, National Board of Boiler & Pressure Inspectors R Certificate, and National Board of Boiler & Pressure Vessel Authorization to Register Certificate. In addition to ASME, Apache is accredited in many other global standards.


3 Levels of Sanitary Vessels

Depending on the application, processors serving food or other hygienic industries have varying degrees of compliance requirements for custom vessels.  When working with your custom vessel manufacturing partner, it is important to identify the level of sanitary compliance in the pre-engineering discovery phase.

Apache defines three categories of sanitary design to help customers with the type of sanitary specifications for construction and fixtures to meet the vessel’s process goals.

BASE LEVEL

The base level sanitary vessel is cleaned manually. Typical construction fixtures include threaded coupling, threaded dip tubes and ANSI flanges.  Depending on the application, stock vessels may be used or modified. The material is 2B/Mill, or 304 or 316 stainless and is pickle passivated.

Customers use base-level sanitary vessels for waste tanks, hydrocarbon storage, food-grade applications, adhesives, and solvents.

MID-LEVEL

The type of sanitation is also a driver for more complexity in the design of sanitary vessels.  In the mid-level category, components are removed for cleaning or COP (clean out of place).

Mid-Level sanitary vessel designs are constructed with 304 or 316 stainless material and feature mechanical finishing and pickle passivation or nitric passivation.

Sanitary fittings are specified in a mid-level vessel from tri-clamp ferrules and tube connections to NA connects, flush mount outlet valves and sight glasses.

Customers use mid-level sanitary design vessels for material columns, solvent tanks, collection vessels, extraction, expansion chambers, mixing and dispensing.  

HIGH-LEVEL

The highest level of sanitary design vessel is automated to be cleaned-in-place (CIP). A 304 or 316 stainless material is specified for high-level sanitary vessels mechanically finished to less than 32RA (roughness average), with nitric and electropolish chemical finish.

The fixtures in this category are electropolished including tri-clamp ferrules, tube connections, NA connects, sight glasses, j-tubes, dip-tubes, and polished internal coils.

Customers using high-level sanitary vessels are involved in automated processing and manufacturing.  Applications for high-level sanitary designs include WRI tanks, R&D lab equipment, heating, and cooling vessels and nutsche filters. 

Each level of sanitary design can meet ASME UM, ASMEU, FDA, 3-A, CRN, PED, and BPE compliance requirements.

When exploring the project parameters for a custom vessel, our guide, “3 Levels of Sanitary Design Tanks and Vessels” , helps to drive conversations and specifications that will meet the vessel’s application, timing, and compliance requirements.

Apache Stainless Equipment Corporation manufactures stainless equipment for a range of hygienic industries. Apache uploads compliance engineering expertise in beverage, biotechnology, pharmaceutical, cannabinoid, food processing, and life science industries.


5 Insider Tips to Get Faster Delivery on Custom Small Vessels

Equipment customized to a specific process has its benefits to solve a particular need. With standard equipment, you may need to adjust your scope. It’s understandable that standard stock vessel solutions only solve for a few common applications. However, custom vessel solutions that solve a specific process may take significantly longer to spec out, design and manufacture than standard stock solutions. 

Here are tips to help reduce lead times on custom vessel projects:

  1. Incorporate stock heads and stock fittings into the custom vessel design. Apache offers numerous styles of vessel heads that are kept in inventory. Head sizes range from 9”, 12”, 18” and 24”. Heads and fittings that need to be specially ordered require longer lead times.
  2. Customers who can provide a general arrangement drawing before Apache’s approval process will expedite communications and reduce engineering time to determine those parameters.
  3. Leverage industry standard components such as pipe fittings, pipe flanges (150# ANSI flanges) in the component list of your data sheet or bill of materials. The supply chain for standard components is typically more favorable for availability and delivery. These are often more cost effective as well.
  4. Use pre-engineered, previously purchased designs. Customers who can refer to or have a repetitive project can shave up to 3 weeks off engineering time for faster delivery.
  5. Discuss pre-ordering long-lead components before the approval of drawings. Collaborate with Apache’s sales techs and engineers to get a head start on critical components that fall under long lead status. With the customer’s approval, these parts can be ordered as soon as possible.

On occasion, an application may be very close to a standard vessel option. Apache has worked with customers to provide modifications to standard designs that also speed up the delivery of the order. Stock tanks include conventional styles and vacuum applications, ranging from 9” diameter to 18” diameter, and 1 gallon to 37 gallons, with pickle passivated or electropolished finishes. All of Apache’s stock tanks are built to and stamped per ASME code. It is worth considering as a faster delivery option; however not all custom solutions can be achieved by making modifications to the stock vessel designs.

As a manufacturer of custom vessels for essential industries, including pharmaceutical, life sciences, and health industries, Apache works with integrators who add their process technology to equipment and end-users who know their process and need a solution. Conversations around delivery to essential industries are top of mind.  

While delivery times are impacted by supply chain, labor shortages, and material availability, Apache will drive the conversation about delivery needs and will consult whenever possible on modifications that help to manage timing for your custom vessel project.


New E-Book: Design to Submission Road Map

Many of Apache's customers, come to us with a full specification outline to custom manufacture their tank or vessel. For pharmaceutical, life sciences and health industries, Apache often works with integrators who add their process technology to sanitary equipment supplied by Apache.  We also provide vessel solutions to end-users who have process technology support or experience, and need a vessel manufacturer to help them meet their quality and compliance standards.

In this e-book "Road Map: Design to ASME Submission", we offer project planning recommendations for vessels that require ASME or other compliance.  It is especially helpful for engineers or purchasers new to the role of procurement of sanitary custom vessels and tanks.  This detailed "road map" provides planning insight and knowledge to acquire custom-designed and manufactured ASME vessels with an understanding of compliance engineering.

It is very important to partner with a vessel manufacturer with expertise in the type of vessel and industry for the use of the vessel. In ASME applications, it is vital that critical staff, fabricators and welders be ASME certified. Experience as well as reputation are significant when working with inspectors, agencies and governing officials to keep the compliance process moving forward.

ASME is a leading developer of codes and standards in the mechanical engineering community. Apache has been ASME certified for over 40 years.

Read the e-book, and learn more about compliance, engineering and project management to meet goals and procure quality vessels that not only meet compliance standards, but project goals too.

 


Comparing Base, Mid, and High-level Sanitary Finishes [Infographic]

Categorizing levels of sanitary design is helpful to professionals new to compliance regulated industries requiring custom vessels because it bridges communications regarding standards and design requirements.

In hygienic applications, stainless equipment requires a sanitary finish which generally refers to a smooth, scratch-free, non-corrosive finish.  The fineness of the finish, which determines its performance, is measured in RA (roughness average). The infographic illustrates the RA of different types of mill, mechanical, and chemical finishes.  The smaller the RA reading in microinches (height in millionths of an inch), the smoother the finish. 

When collaborating to qualify a project, we define a Base Level Finish as a 2B/Mill, 304 or 316 stainless materials that is pickle passivated.  The welds are continuous and crack and crevice-free.  This type of finish is paired with a Base Level Sanitary Design and is cleaned manually. Apache’s standard portable vessel line are an example of the base sanitary design and finish level.

A Mid-Level Finish is also composed of 304 or 316 stainless material and involves a secondary process of mechanical polishing greater than 32RA, with final finishing to include pickle or nitric passivation. The welds are continuous, crack and crevice-free, and are also ground flush and polished smooth to a specific RA.  Sanitary fittings, mechanical polishing, additional passivation processes and a cleanable design with removable components are categorized as Mid-Level Sanitary Design features.

Providing the smoothest RA readings is an electropolished finish after a series of processes, including mechanical finishing to less than 32 RA, passivation, and nitric passivation, which are common for High-Level Finishes.  The base material is 304/316 stainless. The welds are continuous, crack and crevice-free, ground flush and polished smooth to a specific RA designation less than 32RA.  The sanitary fittings are also electropolished.  Vessels with this level of specifications are typically cleaned automatically.

The specifications, construction and finishing of a vessel is often driven by standards and compliance requirements. All three categories, qualify for ASME UM, ASME U, FDA, 3-A, CRN, PED, BPE.

There are other factors that fall in these base, mid and high-level sanitary design categories, including construction features, processing applications and time to delivery.  Download our e-book “Guide to Sanitary Design for Custom Vessels in Hygienic Industries".


Anatomy of a Sanitary Design Vessel

When evaluating a custom vessel manufacturing partner for a new project, consider the manufacturing capabilities and experience that support the vessel’s application and sanitary requirements.

All custom design stainless vessels for the food, life sciences, pharmaceutical and health industries require sanitary construction. It is the application and automation that drives the level of sanitary componentry.

In reviewing each new custom vessel project, Apache identifies the sanitary requirements to categorize the vessel into a base, mid- or high-level design.  Apache offers a standard line of vessels that qualify for various regulatory compliance agencies.  However, these designs are considered a base level sanitary design, especially because the cleaning of the equipment is manual.  Apache identifies a mid-level sanitary design vessel as having COP (Clean Out of Place) components.

In the video, a custom vessel is animated to walk through characteristics and examples in the highest and most automated level of sanitary design custom vessels.

High-Level Sanitary Design Characteristics Include:

  • CIP (Clean in Place) Process and Components
  • Continuous, crack and crevice-free welds, ground flush and polished smooth to specific RA (Roughness Average) <32 RA
  • 304 or 316 stainless material, mechanically finished to <32 RA
  • Electropolished and Nitric passivated finishing
  • Electropolished sanitary fittings, including:
    • Tri-clamp ferrules
    • Tube connections
    • NA Connects
    • Flush mount outlet valves
    • Sight glasses
    • Orbitally welded j-tubes
    • Dip-tubes
    • Polished internal coils
    • Samples Ports
    • Spray devices
    • Control panels
    • External thermal jacketing

Processes and application in high-level sanitary design vessels include heating and cooling vessels, mixing and processing tanks, WFI tanks, filtering and R & D lab equipment.

Certification requirements is an important part of the sanitary design criteria.  Sanitary design standards include:

3A – A regulation of the design for processing equipment in the food and drug industries. A 3A certificate is proof of FDA compliance.

ASME U and ASME UM -  A regulation of the design of boilers and pressure vessels, including traceability of materials, procedures, testing and documentation.

BPE – A standard within ASME that drives equipment design for the bio-processing, pharmaceutical and other hygienic required industries.

In qualifying design, safety, automation other application details, Apache will facilitate the required compliance for the vessel and provide well communicated delivery, cost and approvals required for a successful project.


Navigating Stainless Material and Finishes for Hygienic Vessels

Stainless Finishes for Hygienic Vessels are measured by an RA (Roughness Average) meter.  Manufacturers of custom vessels for life science, health and pharmaceutical industries adhere to strict design parameters to maintain compliance in these industries. The RA is a standard for an average of peaks and valleys on the metal’s surface, measured in microinches.  Here is the evolution of stainless material coming to Apache with RA designations as it is transformed into custom sanitary design vessels:

RA > 100 Mill Finish  A Mill Finish has an unpolished, dull-gray, matte appearance. This material type is the basis for supply for all stainless-steel flat products as well as the basis for additional finishing operations.  It is hot or cold rolled with an RA (Roughness Average) of more than 100 microinches, depending on the gauge of the material. 

RA 15 – 40 2B Mill Finish  2B Mill finish is widely used in food, chemical and pharmaceutical equipment applications. It is corrosion resistant and has a typical RA range of 40 (7 gauge) to 15 (16 gauge) microinches.

RA 29 – 58 No. 3 and No. 4 Finish  Mechanical polishing achieves these finishes. The No. 3 Finish uses a 120-grit abrasive and has a semi-polished finish with an RA range of 36 – 58 microinches.  The No. 4 Finishes uses a 150-grit abrasive and has a polished, brushed surface.  The RA range is 29 – 40 microinches.

RA 18 – 31 No. 4A  Also identified as No. 4 Dairy Finish, this finishes is required to meet the basic FDA 3-A standards. It uses a 180 grit and has a RA range of 18 – 31 microinches.

< 32 RA Pickle Passivation   Pickle Passivation often follows other manufacturing processes including welding and grinding. Also called Pickling, it is the immersion of the metal in a pickling bath or coating the material with pick­ling solution, such as nitric-hydrofluoric acid. The process removes both metallic contamination and heat-treating scales. Pickle passivated stainless steel has a matte appearance. Apache’s tests have confirmed improvements up to 25% in RA read­ings on material that has been pickle passivated.

Lowest RA Electropolishing Electropolishing is an electro-chemical process that removes surface materi­al from stainless steel. The process includes an immersion of the stainless-steel component into a temperature-controlled bath of electrolyte that is charged with a DC power supply. Electrolytes used in electropolishing are concentrated sulfuric and phosphoric acid solutions. The finish has a mirror appearance. Apache’s before/after tests have shown improvements in RA smoothness up to 50%; results vary depending on stainless material.

In the highest level of sanitary design applications the vessel is pickled after manufacturing and polishing, then electropolished.


VIDEO: The Affect of Manufacturing Processes on Stainless Surface Smoothness

The particular RA (Roughness Average) value is a requirement for stainless vessel manufacturing for federal, state or local compliance agencies across many critical industries. It is a crucial standard in these industries to maintain a clean system. The instrument used in the measurement is called a profilometer, which provides an average in micro inches. The smaller the number, the smoother the stainless material. It is common for high compliance vessels to have single digit RA readings on product contact surfaces.

In the construction of pharmaceutical, life sciences, or medical-use vessels, meeting the RA requirement may include several steps, including material selection, grinding, polishing and chemical finishing. Manufacturing processes can affect the RA measurement on stainless material, including forming, stamping and welding. In the video, we walk out of the manufacturing plant with our quality controls manager to show measurements on material in vessels being manufactured in various stages of production. 

Pickle Passivation and Electropolishing chemical finishes have a high degree of improvement on RA smoothness compared to material before it is treated. Pickle passivation, also referred to as descaling, removes the scales and leaves a clean matte finish, free from contamination. Electropolishing is an electrochemical process that dissolves surface metal, removing all embedded contaminants and creates a smooth, mirror finish. 

ASTM International (American Standard for Testing and Materials) is one of several standards that Apache upholds. ASTM A967 is the standard specification for Chemical Passivation Treatment for Stainless Parts. ASTM B912 is the standard specification for electropolishing stainless steel alloys. The ASME-Bioprocessing Equipment (BPE) standard was created for the pharmaceutical and bioprocessing industry. The BPE surface finish standard classifies surface finishes and the acceptance criteria for compliance. 

In the business of compliance vessels, there are numerous standards that are required to deliver the necessary codes in any given project. Follow our videos, blogs and e-books developed specifically to help our processing customers understand the manufacturing and compliance process.


Video: 3 Levels of Sanitary Construction

Processors serving food or hygienic industries have varying degrees of compliance requirements for custom vessels solutions.  The designation of "sanitary" has a wide range of definitions depending on the customer, the industry or the standard.  

This video is a brief overview how Apache defines a base, mid, and high-level sanitary vessels.  

Apache Stainless Equipment Corporation is a manufacturer of stainless equipment for a range of hygienic industries, including, food, beverage, biotechnology, pharmaceutical, cannabinoid, and life sciences.

A dedicated quality control and compliance team directs all tests, certificates and documents for all sanitary, ASME, and global standards.


ASME Stainless Vessel Construction Parameters for Hygienic Vessels

 

ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) is a leading developer of codes and standards in the mechanical engineering community. ASME code section VIII details mandatory rules regarding vessel design, including engineering, manufacturing, and testing of pressure vessels.   These standards enhance public safety and health as well as promote quality and innovation.  Here are the main parameters outlining ASME construction of pressure vessels with supporting ASME testing requirements.

Construction
Parameters such as wall thickness, material, and flange rating are determined by the application, including pressure, temperature, corrosion allowance, and fluid flow.  These conditions are calculated and reviewed/approved by the ASME inspector when required per code. Stainless, Hastelloy, AL6XN, duplex, and Inconel materials are ASME-approved materials for pressure vessel construction in the pharmaceutical, life sciences, and health-related industries, of which Apache is qualified to fabricate.

Welding

ASME standards also define the quality, type, and finishing of the welds. Head styles (ASME F&D, 80:10, 2:1 Elliptical), seams, nozzles, manways, and other components are designed per ASME Code. Applicable ASME Code welding procedures must be followed using certified ASME welders to maintain the structural integrity of an ASME pressure vessel. Welders must be certified to a qualified weld specification qualified per ASME code guidelines.

Safety Components
Gauges, valves, pressure outlets, and drainage are required safety components in ASME design pressure vessels. The proper selection of components and design is critically important to the safety and performance of the ASME vessel. The selection of safety components needs to be evaluated closely to define the required scope of supply.

Finishing
There is another ASME specification to ensure the quality and safety of parts used in pharmaceutical, bio-processing, and other industries requiring a hygienic vessel, called ASMP-BPE. BPE (Bio Processing Equipment Standard) specifies the surface finishes RA (roughness average) requirements and pickle passivation and electropolishing requirements.

Tests & Certification
There are significant testing, certifications, and documentation requirements for ASME compliance and satisfying the numerous customer requirements. Many require ASME inspection as well as a TOP (turnover packet).  Some ASME testing and certification requirements include pneumatic, hydrostatic, liquid penetrant, saline, riboflavin, CIP coverage, material, base metal thickness, material trace, welder trace, Ferroxyl, PMI (Positive Material Identification) radiography, and UT.

Apache has been ASME certified for over 40 years. In addition to ASME, Apache is accredited in many other global standards. By setting parameters for quality and compliance, we offer greater value for our custom stainless ASME tanks and vessels.


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