Considerations When Selecting A Pharmaceutical Feeder To Reduce Manufacturing CostsSource: Schenck AccuRate
By Chad Lorensen
Metering dry powders in the pharmaceutical industry is not a new idea. Several common applications have been using gravimetric and volumetric dry material feeders for many years. Until recently, these feeders were customized versions of industrial or food-grade equipment or one-off-type machines engineered for a specific application. Driven by increasing demand, an equipment manufacturer embarked on an effort to create a standard dry material feeder engineered to meet the pharmaceutical industry’s needs.
As part of this process, common pharmaceutical applications using feeders were identified: milling/particle size reduction; mix tank and reactor charging; mixing; pharmaceutical-grade plastics extrusion; tablet coating; interprocess packaging; and continuous granulation. Once the applications were identified, a multifunctional research and design team interviewed technical people from companies that built equipment specifically for the pharmaceutical industry as well as companies that would use the equipment in their own production efforts. This research was conducted in North America and Europe to provide a global picture of the requirements for the product.
Many design hurdles were discovered during the interviews and review of feeding equipment requirements for these applications. The hurdles were made even more complicated by the fact that there were no widely accepted industry standards for the manufacturing of processing equipment. Each manufacturer and end user held different standards important. The major criteria addressed during design included: equipment capacities and rates; Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved materials of construction; surface finishes of welds and metals used in fabrication; cleaning processes used on the equipment during production including frequent assembly and disassembly; validation; and feeding accuracy. The following paragraphs elaborate on the various design criteria for the equipment.