Supply of Equipment Supporting the Fight Against COVID

30th September 2020

Palamatic are proud to announce the award of many orders from our Pharma customers for the design and supply of PalPharma handling equipment  heightened by the growth in Industry Vaccine production and the need to handle bulk stoppers hygienically.

PalPharma Hygienic Handling Equipment division receives many and varied enquiries from our Pharmaceutical  clients to help them move & dock varying size batch amounts.  For example from  a tablet pressing/coating line onto vision inspection machinery. Typically, this is oral solid dosage forms such as tablets or capsules that require final inspection before being placed in primary packaging forms such as blister packaging. Our clients will be inspecting  the characteristics of the tablet/capsule such as the accuracy of the embossed print, its colour, any foreign bodies, size and any general defects.

In more recent times we have noticed a surge in enquiries to handle bulk ‘stoppers’ hygienically in their manufacture. A stopper is a rubber bung manufactured from an elastic polymer. In the pharmaceutical & biopharma world stoppers are ‘closures’ used for biomedical, infusion and antibiotic purposes used to seal syringes, vials and many other forms. In the case of a syringe when the needle is inserted the elastomer stopper is such that it prevents contaminants entering the vial. The contents within the container to be sealed can be powders, liquids or lyophilised powder (freeze dried). After they are manufactured - and as part of our clients quality processes - they undergo inspection procedures.  It is crucial as they are generally in contact with the raw final parenteral drug form. A stopper will obviously be in contact with the powder/liquid and is crucial that it is sterile for the end fill/finish process. They are typically manufactured in ISO8 to ISO5 Cleanroom grades (from inspection to packaging) and will be washed again at the end user site after transportation from the stopper manufacturer. The final stages of the stopper manufacture require similar methods of preventing cross contamination as the end user drug manufacturing end user i.e. gowning methods employed, cleanrooms, strict cleaning procedures & methods, control of personnel & material ingress/egress via airlocks and pressure cascades. 

The Challenge

Our client must charge up to 500L of stoppers to a ‘vision’ inspection machine inlet and after inspection transport them to an adjacent cleanroom area for automatic packaging with the added requirement of reducing cross contamination in that transportation element. Secondly, any stoppers found to have external surface contaminants are diverted to the ‘rework’ stream outlet must also be offloaded and transported to a ‘post treatment’ washing machine by means of a 300L IBC and associated transport trolley. In both steps (transportation of stoppers to packaging & transportation to washing) can mean the elastomer stoppers can ‘stick’ to the transportation hopper due to the coefficient of friction.

The Solution

Palamatic have a range of Post- hoists to suit the clients various vision inspection system inlet positions and room layouts around the globe. 2 button (requiring both hands) control forms the main element of safety (HMI Colour displays optional) dedicating the operators mind to the task in hand:- clamping the IBC to the hoist, raising and slewing it to the vision/post treatment machine inlet.

A key factor to the design was the consideration of the busy work area with attention to space-saving uppermost. In collaboration with the customer Palamatic designed an electrically powered  ‘claw’ clamping system to clamp the IBC’s to the hoist carriage. These fully safety interlocked devices provided the neat solution to freeing up space in the working area as opposed to the original design that utilised round forks.

Supplementing this is a dual redundancy safety mentality to prevent any form of catastrophic failure; for example dual limit switches (slewing & lifting) in the event a limit switch fails. A safety locking mechanism within the hoist mast prevents any risk of load free fall incorporating a braked motor and other safety features so in the event of power failure the load will be halted .

Palamatic engineers designed the 2 types of IBC (vision & post treatment) complete with hinged closure lids to help prevent cross contamination combined with their associated transport trolleys. On other sites Palamatic have provided mobile hoists that meet strict criteria for explosive atmospheres.

To ensure the stoppers are discharged efficiently the IBC’s have a special treatment (micro -undulation) applied to the stainless steel that reduces the coefficient of friction improving the sliding characteristics between the stopper’s and IBC surface ensuring full discharge of stoppers to the vision/post treatment machine whilst still maintaining the corrosion resistance and cleanability of the product contact stainless steel. On the outlet of each hopper is a hygienic butterfly valve. 

Conclusion

In summary a full solution has been provided on numerous occasions that transports stoppers to vision machine inlets, then from their outlets to packaging OR secondary washing to removing contaminants. Palamatic is proud to be taking an active part in the supply chain of eventual vaccine production. Considering the challenges facing the world at the time of writing we have ramped up our resource and production facility accordingly to meet demand. The above case study is a tried and trusted equipment supply, approved by our client, that is fully factory acceptance tested & commissioned with all necessary pharmaceutical industry level validation documentation supplied.

For further information about our products please contact:-

Palamatic Ltd, Unit 20 Broombank Park, Chesterfield, Derbyshire, S41 9RT

Tel: +44 (0)1246 452 054

sales@palamatic.com