Building a Masterflex Pump: A Precision Process

Tucked away in northwest Barrington, Illinois, the Masterflex® manufacturing facility hums with productivity. Technicians work in “cells” or U-shaped setups to assemble individual pumps that will transfer fluids for a variety of critical purposes. From pharmaceuticals, such as medications and vaccines, to ingredients for food preparation to more corrosive industrial materials, the peristaltic pumps need to operate at maximum performance.

MasterflexPumpThat’s why many of the pumps are assembled from start to finish by the same technician. “This is unique among manufacturers in the Lab Equipment Division,” said Director of Operations John Sliwicki.

The various pumps and pump products are segregated by item class. A dedicated technician prepares the chassis, motor and motor controller/PC board, and pump to produce the final product. He or she tests the pump and records performance data, which will then be reviewed by a lead assembler. This, of course, is only after the component parts have already been examined for quality.

This rigorous focus on delivering a well-performing pump with quality parts translates into minimal work in repair for the facility and incredibly low warranty costs. “When we ship products, they don’t come back,” said Sliwicki.

From Concept to Production

Masterflex pumps arriving in research laboratories and industrial facilities around the globe begin first as a concept. The Masterflex mechanical engineering and electrical engineering groups take input from customers, product distributors, and the industry itself to develop new products and enhance existing ones.

MasterflexIPDigitalProcessDriveFor example, the team recently developed a new Masterflex I/P® Digital Brushless Process Drive that offers three dispensing modes, with a precision low-maintenance motor. The drive features a programmable dispense interval that allows users to set the delay between dispense cycles for automated dispensing by time or volume. This drive was designed to meet the demands of pharmaceutical, food & beverage, dairy, chemical, manufacturing, and water treatment facilities.

On a regular basis, the team also creates custom-designed pump systems for foodservice and other purposes.

Testing Performance

The Masterflex engineering lab also houses a testing chamber, with multiple pumps running continuously to provide performance data. “This data will reveal the consistency and accuracy of stated flow rates, speed rates, torque requirements, and more,” said Gregg Johnson, Marketing Manager. “By testing different formulations of tubing at various speeds, we can determine if the tubing will withstand the rigors of real-life applications.”

This validation of performance is integral to Masterflex standards and is one of the reasons the team delivers a high level of customer satisfaction. While the pumps themselves require little to no maintenance, their ability to live up to stated performance demands, along with their tubing, is part of their brand equity.

A Precision Process

In 2012 alone, the Masterflex Barrington plant produced tens of thousands of pump heads and drives. Many of these pumps are the best-selling models—the Masterflex® L/S® Digital and Modular Drives. Yet, with a flexible operation that can manufacture up to 4,000 different items, the plant tackles a variety of fluid handling products.

“We work fast, remain flexible, and seldom have returns,” summarized Sliwicki. From their unique production process to their dedicated performance testing, the result is a pump relied upon around the globe.

Consider the cough syrup in the cabinet, the lotion on the nightstand, the pizza sauce sizzling on the crust for dinner last night. Each may have been produced using a pump with a Masterflex label.

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