Afrox invests R25-million in automated MTO speciality gas filling plant and analytical capabilities

The increasingly litigious nature of the medical industry has placed clinical laboratories under pressure to get it right – first time, every time. Lab technicians must ensure they are using the right analysis devices, the right techniques and the right gases or gas mixtures.

To support clinical laboratories amongst other industries, Afrox has invested R20-million to build an automated gravimetric filling plant and upgraded its analytical capabilities which enables more stringent analytical criteria for its range of HiQ Life Science gases. All HiQ Life Science gases are not only analysed for accuracy of composition, but are now also analysed for harmful impurities such as sulphur dioxide, nitric oxide and volatile organic compounds.

HiQ Life Science gases are exclusively available from Afrox and comprise several custom blended (made to order or MTO) specialty gas mixtures that are used in fertility treatment, clinical blood and pulmonary function testing, and anaerobic and aerobic specialty gas mixtures used to maintain biological atmospheres in incubators for cell culture growth.

Pieter Moolman, Product Manager Packaged Special Gases at Afrox, explains that until August 2020, Afrox’s Speciality Gases division made use of a manual selection and control gravimetric filling plant using a scale and hand valves to blend simple to highly complex mixtures.

“As the demand for more complex mixtures increased over time, our ability to produce these within acceptable lead times diminished and reject or failure rates increased significantly, resulting in an increased reliance on imported materials to meet customer requirements,” says Moolman.

In mid-2019, Afrox opted to replace this manually operated gravimetric filling plant with an automated version which is to become the main source for all Afrox MTO mixtures supplying South Africa and neighbouring African countries.

The leading gases company invested a further R5-million to upgrade laboratory equipment required to analyse and certify mixtures to industry requirements.

As a result of the upgrade of the analytical capabilities, Afrox is now able to analyse a far wider range of substances with concentrations as low as 1 part per million, and in some instances even as low as parts per billion.

A Certificate of Analysis is provided for each mixture which provides details on the analysis results, adding additional certainty that the mixture will not be harmful to life in its required application.

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