ent types of equipment, can customize standard components
according to each application to ensure no product alterations
occur, such as size reduction.
Generally, most processing equipment, including hammermills, stand taller than workers do, requiring the addition of ladders or stairs to access feeders. In many processing facilities, these
set-ups warrant a second worker for safety.
Employing automated, or semi-automated, pneumatic conveying systems to deliver product to and from hammermills
eliminates the need for workers to climb stairs or haul heavy
containers of material away from the hammermill, alleviating fall
hazards and repetitive motion injuries. In addition to reducing
costly safety hazards, these systems facilitate the ability to redistribute manpower more economically because only one person
needs to monitor equipment function.
If a manufacturer is paying $250,000 a year in disability suits
from manual transfer injuries, investing in vacuum conveying
equipment can produce instant, or near instant, ROI depending
upon the level of automation added to the process.
INCREASED UPTIME DURING BLENDER LOADING
Blenders, mixers and reactors are common types of equipment
used in pharmaceutical processing facilities; and, just like many
other types of equipment, require a mezzanine level for manual
loading or specialized equipment like drum loaders or vacuum
Although drum loaders are better than manual loading, limitations, such as the ability to load only one drum at a time, make
the delivery of materials to the blender or reactor time-consuming. In some circumstances, it may also be necessary to load multiple ingredients into drums prior to loading blenders and reactors, further slowing the process by increasing processing steps.
One of the most efficient advances in loading blenders,
mixers, reactors, or any vessel capable of withstanding vacuum, is packaged conveying systems designed specifically for
the direct charge loading of blenders. With a drug processer’s
blender or mixer as the primary receiver, the conveyor manufacturer provides the rest of the system: power source, filters,
controls, and adapters.
Configured specific to each application with standard equipment, direct charge blender loading systems come with the option
of either floor standing or suspended blender loaders designed to
significantly reduce the amount of carry over, eliminating product
loss and ensuring batch integrity.
Carry over is the amount of product collected in the filter
separator during the loading process that separates the air from
solids (dust) inside the vessel to prevent solids from reaching the
Standing units are readily accessible for cleaning and can be
equipped with casters, allowing them to service more than one
blender. In addition, once the blender is loaded and equalized,
carry over releases into an airtight vessel that preserves product
integrity allowing for reuse or safe disposal.
With suspended units, once the blender is loaded and equalized, material automatically discharges back into the blender
eliminating the need to handle product manually.
Because the units are easy to take apart without tools, clean up
between batches and products takes only 30-45 minutes to wash
down equipment and change out bags, filters and hoses (when
using different hoses for every product).
Direct charge blender loading is not the only complete, ready-to-operate systems available to pharmaceutical managers who
want to automate their batch process.
ELIMINATING PRODUCT MISHANDLING AND SPILLS
Manual scooping of blended formulations into tablet presses
has the potential for messy spills or mishandling. Fully enclosed
tablet press loading systems protect product from air, dirt and
waste. Vacuum tablet press loading systems are turnkey systems
for mounting on customers’presses and are available for single or
dual hopper tablet presses—and the construction of the equipment is USDA accepted.
These systems automatically convey tablet granulations from
drums, or other containers or equipment, to surge bins over tablet presses. A tube hopper material receiver, with vertical sides to
minimize material hang-up, is located over each surge bin and
the control panel and vacuum pump located in an adjacent room.
Vacuum is applied to all material receivers over the presses using
one vacuum pump.
Combining modern electronic technology with innovative
mechanical and pneumatic design, the programmable control
panel, with its microprocessor, is the nerve center for the system
and has reserve capacity to handle a total of sixteen presses. The
microprocessor constantly scans level controls on the surge bins
and initiates conveying of tablet formulation to the receiver over
any press requiring material, insuring that no press will run dry,
which could cause costly tooling damage.
INCREASED THROUGHPUT WITH AUTOMATION
Nearly any time a process is automated increased throughput is a
given, especially when eliminating manual transfer methods. The
gel cap conveyor, designed to deliver gel caps, soft gels, or tablets
from inspection machines to packaging lines or gel caps to filling
machines is another type of turnkey conveyor package for pharmaceutical processors. These turnkey packages transfer 500-1000
lbs per hour—approximately 2500 units per minute, increasing
the amount of product throughput.
Pneumatically transferring delicate gel caps requires expertise
to protect product integrity, especially since the manufacture of
gel caps can be an expensive process. In addition to product integrity however, expert conveyor manufacturers also anticipate
solutions in a broader framework than just the end goal, which
often means incorporating environmental improvements as well.
For instance, when pneumatically transferring gel caps, the
capsules can sound like little bullets when they hit the side of
the hopper creating additional noise in a facility. To combat this,
new tangential inlets were utilized to eliminate noise, and protect
delicate product from damage.
Environmental improvements aren’t limited to cleaner, safer and
quieter vacuum conveying equipment. Vacuum technology is also
integral in assisting pharmaceutical processors comply with FDA
and EPA guidelines—especially in the collection of wastewater.