Packaging Machine Builders Stress Performance, Flexibility

Feb. 1, 2004

While not the largest end-user market overall, the pharmaceutical industry will continue to lead growth in demand for packaging machinery, according to a recent study by the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute (PMMI, Arlington, Va.).

Companies are expected to spend more on advanced packaging machinery because they have become more aware of how it can improve manufacturing productivity, the study suggests. Indeed, gains in efficiency, speed and flexibility were together cited as the number one reason (Table) for investments in packaging machinery.

Other trends shaping the packaging machine market "and the offerings of suppliers highlighted in this roundup "include the need to handle a greater number of new and different package designs and sizes, as well as the need to reduce labor costs through automation. "We've found that it's justifiable to upgrade our packaging capabilities," one manufacturer of medical devices was quoted as saying. "Increased automation equals reduced labor costs, which is our objective now."

Here, then, a sampling of high performing, highly flexible machines of interest to the pharmaceutical manufacturing marketplace.

Top 8 Reasons for Purchasing a Packaging Machine

Reason                                                                                            Percentage*

1. Replacing machine to gain efficiency, speed, flexibility, productivity    27%

2. Expanding production capacity for existing products                         23%

3. Adding machinery to automate, reduce labor costs                           12%

4. Adding new products                                                                       9%

5. Change in packaging                                                                       8%

6. Replacing machinery to reduce maintenance                                     8%

7. Adding to plant                                                                               7%

8. Ergonomics, safety, other                                                                6%

* Percentage of respondents to 2003 survey by PMMI


System Fills Pre-Capped, Pre-Sterilized Microtubes

An automated production system for handling pre-capped and pre-sterilized microtubes sorts and feed the containers using a vibratory or centrifugal feeder, labels or codes each container, and dispenses a predetermined volume of fluid using a servo-driven pump. The system then sorts, feeds and re-applies screw caps and discharges each completed microtube directly into an accumulation bin or onto a horizontal accumulation track assembly. Each system has a compact footprint, includes a HEPA filtration system and incorporates a unique GMP design that uses a two position operating station to minimize the possibility of product contamination.

National Instrument Co., Inc.


Liquid Filler Features High Performance, Flexibility

With a modular design, laminar airflow, a vertical back wall for improved access and a compact footprint, Bosch's new FLM liquid filler is designed to set a new standard for cGMP filling. The machine is available as a stand-alone unit for cleanroom filling, RABS, or with a barrier isolator. The machine features a fill range of 0.25 ml up to 500 ml for greater flexibility with an output of up to 600 units per minute. Other features include balcony construction, vertical machine plate, strict separation of the production and drive sections. In addition, a slim machine design (with a reach depth of 600 mm) improves accessibility so that all maintenance work can be done from one side, in a very small aseptic area.

Bosch Packaging Technology


Economical Tablet Counter Handles 50 Bottles Per Minute

The new DT Swiftpack Quantum electronic pill counter offers ease of use and accuracy at an economical price. This compact 12-track machine has no change parts and, for cleaning purposes, all contact parts can be quickly removed without using tools. The unit's optical counting technology is designed to eliminate miscounts and provides a user-friendly interface, including touchscreen and memory storage of product parameters, making setup and operation easy.

DT Packaging Systems


Machine Eliminates Headspace Cotton Mess

The Automatic Film Inserter system replaces the cotton in the headspace of bottles with clean plastic FDA-approved films. These films, which already are preferred to cotton in the Pacific Rim region, offer greater product protection and longer shelf life, are easier to remove and facilitate promotional opportunities, according to the manufacturer. The unit is available in two models; the AI-60, capable of inserting up to 60 bottles per minute, or the AI-120 with twice the capacity. A small footprint makes either system easy to integrate into a production line; little conveyor space is needed.

Axon Corp.


Sterile Filling and Capping System Ups Output by 50%

The FMB210 monobloc vial-filling and capping machine can allow pharmaceutical and biotech filling operations to achieve a 50% increase in output capacity, with maximum flexibility and minimum floor-space requirements, according to the manufacturer. The device is specially designed for filling vials, inserting lyophilization or injection plugs and overseal capping of aluminum caps. The devices enable output of up to 85 units per minute, allowing users to fill volumes between 0.1 and 100 ml with an accuracy of +/-1%. The systems are ideal for small batch production and filling of shear-sensitive products, the manufacturer says, as well as clinical trials. Peristaltic design simplifies cleanup and product change, and tubing is removed and changed after each batch, preventing contamination. All format parts are mounted by finger screws allowing an operator to complete a format change in about 15 minutes.

Flexicon America, Inc.


Checkweigher Handles Tiny Amounts with High Accuracy

The Model Rx1 Pharmaceutical Checkweigher is designed to handle small, light products weighing less than 200 g, at high accuracy. The device can be equipped with Hi-Speed's Login Server to meet FDA CFR Part 11 requirements. The instrument can handle up to 600 containers a minute, its manufacturer says, maintaining accuracy at tolerances of +/- 15 mg at 2 sigma, enabling detection of missing tablets, components, blister pack contents, or aerosol and fluid levels in small containers. The Login Server option provides a monitoring system with a personalized, traceable log of when and who accessed the device. In addition, its manufacturer offers an optional validation package to support users' validation documentation requirements.



Powder-Filling Machine Boasts High Speed

Optima Pharmaline SL50 modular filling machines are designed to fill bottles with pharmaceutical powders. The modules consist of an auger dosing system, 100% in-process weight control, capping and stoppering units, fail-safe bottle rejection, and bottle neck control via video system. With speeds up to 50 containers per minute, these machines offer the latest servo technology, quick size changeover and one man/machine interface. They can also accommodate both screw and roll on caps up to 50mm in diameter and are designed according to cGMP guidelines.

Optima Machinery Corp.


Customized Case Sealer Saves Installation Costs

Model 336 hot melt adhesive case sealer is designed to be easily installed and can be close-coupled with a drop packer (or other equipment) without added conveyor. The customized elevation is the key, as each 336 is built to the elevation the buyer needs, from 15 to 26 in. In addition, this sealer has a continuous operation design that automatically times cases into the flap tucker with built in metering belt transfer. This ensures proper feeding and flap tucking of cases fed back-to-back or spaced, at speeds up to 45 cases per minute. The sealer automatically tucks the minor flaps, applies adhesive and plows the major flaps closed.

ABC Packaging Machine Corp.


Flexible Filler Handles A Wide Range of Materials, Volumes

The Servo Positive Displacement Filler works with a wide range of products and fill volumes, its manufacturer says. Featuring a sanitary construction, the machine is designed to accommodate filling at high temperatures, and instantaneous fill-size changeovers. Positive displacement pumps can be customized to optimize accuracy and handling characteristics for each use, from applications involving large particulates filled at high temperatures, to biomedical preparations requiring extremely accurate filling and small volumes of product.

Inline Filling Systems Circle 384