TBL Performance Plastics is a leading manufacturer of single-use tubing, tube sets, fittings, and other components that are used by bio-pharmaceutical manufacturers, CMOs, drug development companies, and related OEMs. TBL provides industry leading expertise in developing non-metallic fluid transfer and storage products with a heavy focus on quality, regulatory compliance, and meeting client and application-specific needs.
TBL was originally founded in the early 2000s as a division of Rubber Fab Gasket & Molding in Sparta, New Jersey. When Rubber Fab was acquired by Garlock in 2016, TBL became an independent entity with a focus on four main manufacturing capabilities: tubing extrusion, molded fittings, single-use assembly, and plastic machining and fabrication — all in a single facility with an ISO 7 cleanroom. The integration of these four capabilities enabled the company’s customers to benefit from faster delivery times and less supply chain risk as well as added variety, innovation, and lower costs. In addition, TBL has been heavily focused on developing and formulating polymers, plastics, thermoplastics, and elastomers for over 30 years. This helped minimize outside sourcing needs and hardened their supply chain. This combination of skill sets has resulted in TBL experiencing explosive growth as they have become established as a flexible, highly service-oriented choice for customers around the world.
Recently, TBL was acquired by the Q Group, which is a subsidiary of the 3i Group — a private equity group headquartered in Europe. Now that TBL now has even more substantial resources at their disposal, they have been able to make significant investments in the infrastructure, clean room expansion, quality, and people required to continue their rapid growth trajectory.
2020 and Beyond
As our industry continues to grow quickly along with the proliferation of single-use manufacturing, raw material and finished goods Supply Chains in our industry have been faced with obvious challenges. Recent events such as Operation Warp Speed have taught us that relying on a sole-source supplier can have unintended consequences. In order to help our clients protect themselves against disruption, Acuity and TBL have been working with many major consumers of SUT to qualify as an alternative supplier. For example, over the past 18 months, the Life Sciences industry has faced a significant shortage of thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) weldable tubing. While this segment has historically been dominated by a single supplier, TBL’s Cellgyn™ product offers an alternative that has been on the market for over 10 years. In the past, most end users would not make the investment to qualify alternative products; however, recent supply issues have shined a spotlight on the critical nature of having qualified alternatives in the event of disruption. Both TBL and Acuity stand by, ready to assist with that process.
Managing the Mess: Acuity’s Proprietary T-LOC Solution
Once an end user selects their tube set supplier, the next issue is how to physically manage the routing of that tubing once in the suite. Often, the best-laid plans for a single-use suite can change during the evolution of a process or as validation concerns arise. The result can be at best a mess of tubing “spaghetti” and at worst, a safety or trip hazard. Acuity’s proprietary T-Loc System offers a new degree of flexibility, meaning that manufacturing personnel can modify tubing routing, move anchor points, and optimize your system easily and reliably. The work orders, hot work permits, and downtime which can occur with stainless-steel hangers are all things of the past.
T-LOC is an easy-to-install tubing management system that features a combination of GMP polypropylene materials, a bracket, a configurable panel, and interchangeable fasteners. The system combines a mounting bracket with a flexible tubing hanger system that is both strong and easy to adjust. Users can install and remove single-use tubing assemblies in a repeatable and manageable way. T-Loc mounting brackets are designed to be installed on standard GMP structures such as square tubing, round tubing/pipe, walls, floors, or bench tops. The T-Loc system offers strong 360-degree structural support to handle pulsation and vibration.
Supply Chain Integrity
Acuity can offer our customers access to an extensive TBL product and service offering along with the Acuity T-LOC tubing management system with a single point of contact. We routinely help our clients integrate the multiple components in a tube set with the well-designed T-LOC tube support system to be sure that the various elements in the tube set such as filters, flowmeters, or pressure transducers are properly oriented and securely supported. This can help eliminate product loss or hold-up in the tube set and can ensure a safe, clean, professional-looking operation.
In addition to SUT processing equipment, Acuity Process Solutions regularly assists our customers in designing and developing both standard and custom in-suite storage and ergonomic enhancements. PolyFab Plastics and Metro Storage are two of the vendors that we call on when we need to design storage cabinets, pump carts, product transfer carts, or safety enhancements. We pride ourselves on offering exceptional service from our Boston-area location, and can even consult with our clients in person with proper PPE or by using video conferencing if that is their preference.