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Using Advanced MFC Alarms To Diagnose and Solve Bioprocessing Issues

Losing even a single batch from one of your bioreactors not only impacts your business — it can delay delivery of vital biologics people count on every day.

The best digital mass flow controllers (MFCs) feature alarms and diagnostic tools to give you more complete insight into the quality and efficiency of your biopharma processes.

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How it helps

This infographic shows you how to use those tools to achieve better control over bioprocessing performance and yield so you can focus on protecting and enhancing people’s lives.

Restricted Flow Alarm & Automated Response

A problem develops in a pressure regulator, restricting gas flow to the bioreactor. The MFC generates a restricted flow alarm, enabled by Ethernet-based networks, initiating an automated response by the bioreactor PLC to adjust and return the system to normal operating conditions.

How it helps

  • Eliminates need for manual operator intervention to resolve flow restriction
  • Increases bioprocessing system productivity and functionality
  • Decreases troubleshooting/diagnosis time and reduces system downtime
  • Supports easy configuration and setup for all users

Backflow Alarm

Enabled by digital MFCs and Ethernet-based network protocols, the backflow alarm alerts the operator to stop the process due to bioprocess liquid pushed backward through the flow path to the MFC.

How it helps

  • Occurs when bioreactor vessel pressure exceeds limits and overcomes positive pressure through the MFC
  • Enables fast response to potential problems within the bioprocess
  • Helps prevent the loss of valuable biologic material or damage to bioprocessing systems, including the MFC

MFC Calibration/
Service Due

MFC generates alert (and triggers blinking light on device) to notify bioprocessing management system that device is scheduled for service or recalibration.

How it helps

  • Incorporates alerts into preventive maintenance management tools and supplements any manual scheduling practices
  • Adds flexibility to your operations: Notification can be preset for total hours of MFC use, rather than time elapsed, so your equipment isn’t taken offline prematurely for servicing

Setpoint Deviation Alarm

Digital MFCs automatically adjust to maintain proper flow rates. If the MFC overadjusts and exceeds established setpoints, there’s a strong risk that the bioreactor isn’t receiving proper amounts of gases like O2 and CO2 — throwing off pH and dissolved O2 and harming production of the targeted biologic.

How it helps

  • Alerts operators of significant problems in your gas delivery systems — pressure control valve not opened, delivery lines clogged, etc.
  • Enables diagnosis and correction of gas delivery issues before they impact pH and dissolved O2 and contaminate the biologic production

High/Low/No Flow Alarms

Bioreactor MFCs have specific flow rate “recipes” for each new biologic being processed. Preset alarms will trigger to alert operators if upper and/or lower thresholds have been crossed or there’s no flow at all.

How it helps

  • Alarms may be triggered in conjunction with alarms from sensors within a bioreactor chamber to help isolate and diagnose the problem’s source
  • The faster you diagnose root causes, the easier it is to keep bioprocessing systems operating with peak productivity

MFC Temperature Out of Limits

MFCs record and monitor the temperature of the gas the MFC controls. The MFC can monitor fluctuations in gas temperature that could negatively impact bioprocessing repeatability.

How it helps

  • Bioreactor chamber temperatures are tightly monitored; keeping bioprocess feed gases within temperature ranges helps keep bioprocessing on target
  • Fluctuations in gas temperature can be correlated with other sensors in gas storage areas or delivery lines to further isolate and diagnose issues

Webinar: Optimizing Bioprocess Performance

Brooks Instrument has created an informative video webinar titled “Achieving Optimal Bioprocess Performance Through Intelligent Gas Management.” It details best practices that process engineers and scientists can use to leverage the sophisticated alarms and diagnostic capabilities of our digital MFCs to improve bioprocessing efficiency and productivity.

The video here details one example: how a restricted flow or choked flow alarm enables operators to program automated PLC responses to restrictions in process gas flows detected by SLA Series mass flow controllers.

Watch the Complete Webinar

Want to make better use of MFC alarms and diagnostic tools in your bioprocessing systems?

Talk to one of our application engineering experts.

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