Flexibility, Data Capture Drive Latest Generation of Capsule Fillers

Nov. 25, 2003
While the basic two-piece hard gelatin capsule dates back more than 150 years, the systems used to fill it with powders, pellets and, increasingly, liquids, continue to advance. The latest offerings can churn out upwards of 200,000 capsules per hour, but pure throughput performance is no longer the driving force for most pharmaceutical manufacturers.

Reliability continues to top the list of critical capsule filler qualities, although flexibility has become important, too. Machines must be quickly and easily adjustable to accommodate an increasingly wide variety of products and dosages.

Machine builders also are setting new standards in both precision of dosage delivered to each capsule, and in the data capture necessary to validate that each capsule is properly charged. Bosch Packaging and MG America, for example, tout systems that automatically check-weigh each and every individual capsule.

And in terms of extending the applicability of capsule delivery to new types of medicines, Shionogi Qualicaps features a newly integrated filling and sealing system that, because of the short distance and time between the two operations, allows even low viscosity fluids to be efficiently and cleanly capsulated and sealed.

Combined Filling, Sealing Machine Improves Capsule Integrity

Fully-automated capsule filling and sealing machine features an enclosed automatic transfer system that immediately delivers filled capsules directly into the sealing machine, resulting in minimal handling and increased capsule integrity. Dubbed the FS, the new machine combines Shionogi Qualicaps' F-40 fully-automated capsule filling machine and its S-40 fully-automatic hard capsule sealing machine. The combination machine allows materials of low viscosity to be filled and sealed more easily. Previously, during the manual transfer of filled capsules to the sealing machine, liquid-filled or semi-solid ingredients could seep out of the capsules. The FS's automatic transfer system delivers the filled capsules to the sealer immediately, ensuring less leakage. The automatic transfer system, combined with a three-drum rectification system, provides a process that is gentle enough so that capsules experience less vibration, resulting in less denting and fewer deformations. In turn, this allows "clean" capsules to flow through the sealing equipment smoother and with less downtime for cleanup. The new combination FS saves labor time, needing only one operator, costs less than purchasing the F-40 and S-40 separately, and takes up less room, since redundant nonessential parts weren't needed. While the FS can fill, transfer and seal a wide range of pharmaceutical ingredients, its gentle rectification system makes it particular suitable for HPMC capsules, the manufacturer says.

Shionogi Qualicaps, Circle 345

336-449-3953, www.qualicaps.com

Separate Working Area Facilitates Quick Cleaning

Impressa capsule filling machine reaches a maximum production speed of 130,000 capsules per hour and is equipped with a new tamping-pin powder dosing system. The highly flexible unit is designed to guarantee high dosing precision and separate control of powder weight and compression. The reduced mechanical movements prevent product from being contaminated metal particles. The working area is completely separated from the mechanical area, avoiding product penetration in the lower part of the machine. This system, together with a central lubrication, guarantees easy maintenance and cleaning.

IMA North America, Circle 346

215-826-8500, www.ima.it

Automatic Encapsulators Feature Touchscreen Controls

CPT series of automatic, hard-shell encapsulating machines features programmable logic control and a 10-in. color touchscreen operator interface mounted on a swing-out arm. Other system features include variable speed control, an alarm/safety package including self-diagnostics, proximity sensors for powder level and capsule supply, cams keyed to the drive shaft to eliminate slipping, double-sided cams for smoother operation, a pneumatically operated capsule cleaning station and faulty capsule reject stations

CapPlus Technologies, Circle 347

623-582-2800, www.capplustech.com

Capsule Filler Verifies Weights, Captures Process Data

G140 continuous motion capsule filler is capable of producing up to 140,000 capsules per hour with the ability to dose powders, pellets and microtablets. The unit can be fully integrated into a central computer system for enhanced flexibility and control, and is compatible with the MG NETT Weight Control System, an on-board system that provides for 100% capsule net weight measurement. The system automatically rejects any capsules with weights either over or under set production values, handles all in-process data collection and analysis, and provides automatic weight adjustment and analysis of individual dosator performance to help assure compliance with 21 CFR Part 11 requirements. In addition, the G140 features touch screen control for fast changeovers, and can also handle powder/tablet and pellet/tablet combinations.

MG America, Circle 348

973-808-8185, www.mgamerica.com

Integrated Capsule Check-Weigher Verifies Individual Doses

GKF series of capsule filling and closing machines features a slide-gate filling station designed to handle even sticky and finely granulated powders with low losses and precise volumes. One model in the series features an integrated capsule check-weigher, which weighs each capsule with a tolerance of two milligrams. Control is performed by means of an industrial PC, which also stores and manages the production data. The software conforms with 21 CFR Part 11 regulations, and records all process, quality and product-related inputs exactly. Each machine can be changed over and cleaned equally quickly without the use of tools and meets cGMP requirements. The high-performance GKF 2500 fills and closes up to 150,000 capsules per hour. Its ASB automatic troubleshooting system provides for high productivity. The GKF 1400 is designed for a production capacity of 84,000 capsules per hour. This machine is particularly economical, with medium-sized batches and frequent product changes. The GKF 701 model is designed for the production of smaller capsule batches and to ease production bottle-necks quickly. With a maximum output of 42,000 capsules per hour this machine is the successor to the GKF 700 and has parts that are interchangeable with those of the older model.

Bosch Packaging Technology,