Vernacare, a manufacturer of products for human waste management within hospitals and private medical facilities, wanted to use pneumatic valve control instead of hydraulics on its new range of macerators. Used to shred and dispose of human waste, the new Compact series range of macerators is hygienically sealed and highly compact, enabling them to be installed in patient bathrooms and wards. This removes the need for clinical staff to carry waste to a dedicated sluice or dirty utility room, increasing the efficiency of patient care. The Compact series of macerators are also contactless with hands-free operation to improve hygiene for staff and patients.
On previous models, low pressure hydraulics were used to operate the lid by compressing a solid seal, as well as actuate the bottom diaphragm valve used to flush the system. However, to increase hygiene and remove any potential of contamination, Vernacare decided to switch to a pneumatic system for its new generation of macerators, avoiding the risk of hydraulic leakage by reducing the number of connections to the water line. The OEM chose to work with Bürkert, based on its valve control expertise and highly durable valve design.
“With a large volume of Compact series macerators planned for installation in a wide variety of hospitals, reliability was crucial,” says Garry Partington, Group Product Development Manager at Vernacare. “The macerators would be in regular use around the clock on a daily basis, so it was very important that the valves would be able to provide repeated performance under tough conditions.”
Bürkert provided two Type 6013 direct-acting plunger solenoid valves featuring a compact form factor essential to minimise the macerator’s overall size. The first valve pneumatically controls lid seal inflation to create a reliable barrier and maintain environmental hygiene, while the second valve closes the bottom drain valve. Direct acting solenoids feature a seal as part of the moving core and can be set to remain closed or open, even when no pressure is being applied. For the final design of the Compact and Compact+ macerators, the valve was set in a normally open position, the optimum configuration to reduce energy consumption.
Plunger valve 2/2 way direct-acting
- Direct-acting and compact valve up to diameter of DN 6.0
- Vibration-proof, bolted coil system
- Increased leak-tightness with welded plunger guide tube
- Explosion proof versions
- Energy-saving impulse versions
The valves are designed to cope with particle debris. Thanks to the spring-damped seat seal, they have a long service life, as well as increased switching cycles due to sliding ring bearings. Reliability is also enhanced through the stopper and plunger guide tube which is welded together to increase pressure resistance and leak-tightness.
The Compact range was introduced in early 2020 as the demand for hospital equipment spiked resulting from the Covid crisis. This created an accelerated demand for Vernacare’s macerators that required a rapid ramp-up in production. Bürkert was tasked to supply 3,000 Type 6013 direct-acting plunger valves within a three-month timeframe, which the company achieved with 24-hour manufacturing.
As a result, Bürkert helped Vernacare bring its new product to market, answering the biggest healthcare demand in a generation. The valves, integral to the macerator’s design, enabled the development of a compact and reliable unit that enhances hospital hygiene and increase the efficiency of patient care.