As is the case with all categories of pharmaceutical equipment, the maintenance of your freeze dryer depends on 3 HOWs:
How you use it (the kind of product and/or application)
How often you use it (number of cycles)
How well you care for it (let’s condense this concept in the term “maintenance”)
While it is true that some freeze dryers continue to freeze dry effectively for decades, the average life span of a freeze dryer in today's laboratory and production plant environment is approximately 10 years. (Normally 15 to 20 years!)
Do you want to know the secrets for getting the maximum life out of your freeze dryer?
Let's break down application, usage and maintenance - all those factors that determine how long and how well your freeze dryer works - and identify several Do's and Dont's to guide you.
DO . . .
FREEZE DRYER PC
Generally, the most overlooked aspect of a FD: back-up files at least on a monthly basis; also ask your IT Dep. to not defrag the hard disk when the system is running slowly.
FREEZE DRYER PUMPS
Perform regular vacuum pump maintenance:
In case of oil-pumps change the oil every 2000 hours; a quick trick is to check the color right after a cycle and if it has darkened change it while still warm. Some oil-pumps presents an OME (oil mist eliminator), this should be replace once a year including filter elements.
For dry-pumps a periodic rebuilding is required due to the lack of lubricant.
FREEZE DRYER REFRIGERATION
Run a functional test every four months (as average): the test will check that the refrigeration and mechanical components, including compressors, refrigerant charge, valves, heat transfer systems, etc., are working properly
OTHER FREEZE DRYER MAINTENANCE
General cleaning and calibration schedule should be incorporated into your SOP.
DON'T . . .
There are maintenance activities not stated in this article that may only be performed by qualified service personnel.
What is new?
Nowadays to help you during the basic freeze dryer maintenance activities we know some suppliers count on a proprietary app. Take a picture with your phone of the component you need to fix/replace, use the app and they will manage the rest.