November 13, 2018

The experience gained in 16 years of activity allows FPS to be a world leader and offer a service with high-quality standards for the global market.

The design and production process of the systems is carried out entirely in the plants of Fiorenzuola d’Arda (PC), starting from a careful listening of the customer’s requests to the final test before delivery.

The ability to listen and the flexibility in adapting to the needs of the customer are the strengths that over the years have rewarded FPS.

The initial study of the project is carried out by several hands: a specialized team works closely with the customer to ensure compliance with the technical specifications required.

As far as containment systems are concerned, FPS usually proposes the construction of a mock-up of the system to be supplied.

“It is a structure that faithfully reproduces the machine on a 1:1 scale and provides a visual representation, as detailed as possible, of what the final system will look like. The way in which the mock-up is created allows the designer and the customer to easily make any changes and improvements during the verification stage” – explains Ms. Ilenia Lindi, head of Project Management at FPS.

A mock-up is created to outline the aspects and some details that will make up the final machine, in order to establish the optimal positions of all the components, simulate the planned operations and examine any problems that were not discussed in the offer stage. The customer is supported in each stage by the project team, that under the coordination of the Project Manager, works together with the customer to find the best solutions“.

The steps to consider when making the mock-up are:

  • 3D Design of the isolator
  • Drawing the mock-up
  • Creating the insulator mock-up
  • Creating the internal components
  • Creating the polycarbonate windows and positioning the glove ports
  • Checking the mock-up with the customer and the project team
  • Final report with the details of the findings and solutions found

Before making the mock-up, a careful preliminary study of the machine is carried out, starting from the supply specifications, considering the spaces available at the installation site and the components integrated into the machine (such as process machines or different types of containers to handle). The 3D model of the plant is the starting point for the construction of the mock-up.

In order to achieve the best result, it is necessary to simulate all the operations that the operator will perform inside the isolator; FPS therefore not only simulates the system, but also the main internal components on which the desired operations will be performed. 

“Sometimes it happens that in the offer stage, the customer does not recognize the importance of this stage and considers it as “redundant” taking into account the experience of FPS in the construction of containment systems.

However, when FPS’s suggestion is followed and people come into the company and touch with their hands what their machine will be, they “enjoy playing” moving components and evaluating solutions different from those they had initially considered. Once I happened to follow a customer for a whole day in this “play”, looking for solutions that he thought to be better, and then I ended up confirming the initial solution we proposed. However, I did not feel that this time was wasted! It is very important to us that the end user is fully convinced of how the final solution will be implemented in the best configuration” – Lindi continues.

Since these systems are complex and require major economic investments, this procedure gives us the opportunity to evaluate at the design stage all the integrations that involve extra costs and possible reductions. For example, we also happened to eliminate a work chamber because the entire process could be carried out in a single chamber, to the benefit of the costs and overall sizes for the end user.”

The great advantage of making a mock-up is to let real end users perform the manipulations and “play” with the machine and then define/observe the operations as they will actually be performed. 

“For the ergonomic test of one of the last projects – continues Lindi – a very complex system, there was a large delegation: the project manager, the process engineer, the electrical manager, the operator and some technicians of the engineering company that followed the project. We worked together 4 days to verify the solutions proposed and each contributed its part.

A customer has never been dissatisfied after a mock-up had been verified. On the contrary, even the most skeptical ones have always recognized the usefulness of the work carried out. For example, we have recently made an isolator similar to one already in operation in the same company. We could have “skipped” this step and reproduced the same machine. Instead, in agreement with the customer, we invested a day of work together to study a new mock-up and evaluate, based on their experience, the improvements to be adopted for this new project.”

This passage can be advantageous from the electrical point of view too. The head of the electrical department, Mr. Luca Abbà, explains: “It is true that the mock-up is more useful for an ergonomic, mechanical and space evaluation, but it is very advantageous also from the electrical point of view. For example, we are working closely with a US customer to propose a solution suitable for this market, that applies standards different from those implemented in Europe.”

FPS strongly believes in this sensitive stage because it allows to get a very accurate idea of the machine that will be manufactured, to optimize the ergonomics and logistics for the flow of components and to achieve savings in terms of costs and time on both sides. 

“The creation of the mock-up takes 2-3 weeks in the development of the project, which in the case of projects with tight construction deadlines can be a significant time,” says Gianola, President and Sales Director. “However, experience has taught us that investing in mock-ups can avoid problems during installation/commissioning and in the use of the system, which might otherwise take much longer to resolve.”

As always, the objective of FPS is to be of service to the chemical and pharmaceutical industries. The mock-up is one of the tools that helps us be increasingly in tune with the expectations of our customers.