SMC products at the forefront of medical technology

The effects of COVID-19 will be felt for years to come. The United Nations projects that the pandemic will cost the world economy $1 trillion and Bloomberg warns that the world’s GDP growth could fall to zero as a worst-case scenario.

Manufacturing has been heavily impacted, both locally and abroad, and our close ties with Asia have been heavily strained over this period. Despite this SMC Corporation Australia New Zealand believes that the learnings from this pandemic will make the manufacturing industry more resilient in future.

The industry has had to become more flexible, lean and innovative than ever before especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, companies are looking for safe, reliable and available solutions in the medical field now more than ever before.

“During this time, we have seen increased demand for SMC components in the medical industry. Of course, hygiene is everything in the fields of life sciences and medical technology, as it’s all about the health and safety of patients,” comments Guiomar Fernandez, product marketing manager for SMC Corporation Australia and New Zealand.

“SMC recognises this and applies rigid hygiene regulations in the development of our products. Our range covers temperature control, miniature process valves for space-saving applications, couplings, fittings & tubing and more. Our components can be found in sterilisation technologies, shockwave therapies, dental applications and x-ray systems.”

Because medical preparations often require a constant processing and storage temperature to maintain their efficacy, SMC develops products to assist in always ensuring the right temperature.

“Reliability is key and our themo-chillers (the HRR series) meet the demands of the medical industry thanks to their precise temperature control range of between 10 and 35 °C, precise to within ± 0.1 °C.”

These compact units fit into 19-inch frames and are only 310 mm high, making it easy for them to be installed in confined spaces. “All the access points to the thermo-chillers are located on the front of the unit which provides for easy maintenance procedures and servicing” explains Guiomar.

“The digital networking of production has also long since arrived in the life sciences sector. Based on this, SMC offers digital precision pressure switches, series ISE70/71, with IO-Link technology.”

These smart sensors register parameters such as current pressure values up to 1.6 MPa, the status of the switching output, and important diagnostic information and error messages to the higher-level PLC.

“The two-line display of the precision pressure switches can be rotated by up to 336° and display setpoint (limit value), hysteresis value, maximum or minimum value and delay time, depending on the user’s requirements. And in the event of a power outage, the ISE70/71 series reliably backs up its collected data thanks to its persistent memory.”

In addition to steam sterilisation, aggressive media such as chemical disinfectants are often used for disinfecting medical equipment and production facilities as well as for dosing chemicals. “SMC has developed the 2-way diaphragm valves of the LVP series for such harsh applications. With their rigid PVC-C housing and a polytetrafluoroethylene diaphragm, they withstand even corrosive media such as hydrochloric acid and hydrogen peroxide” says Guiomar.

These compressed air operated valves are easy to adjust, have 50 per cent less water hammer than conventional valves and can withstand media and ambient temperatures between 0 and 60 °C without any problems.