By Frédéric Dietrich, Dietrich Engineering Consultants
The pharmaceutical industry is facing important changes due to the evolution of the market in the last decade (expiration of patents and increasing strength of generic companies, pressure from national government to decrease the price of medicine, increasing costs for developing new medication and shorter life cycle of the product, etc.).
Pharmaceutical companies are forced to review their way of production in order to become more competitive and at the same time are obliged to respect ever more stringent production guidelines.
In order to improve their productivity, existing and new manufacturing facilities need to be modified and designed in a more flexible way in order to adapt quickly to the constant changes of the market, the safety and the quality control standards etc. The operation and maintenance costs must be kept to a minimum.
Powder handling plays a major role in the design and the operation of an API facility, and can often become the “bottle neck” of the plant. Previously, manually loading powder through a manhole was in most cases the preferred method for charging process equipments. Therefore, problems related to containment, safety and logistics were part of everyday life for the persons in charge of production.
The constantly increasing toxicity and reactivity of products in recent years as well as the ever more demanding production standards with regard to quality have made closed powder handling an unavoidable factor and manual handling obsolete.
Selecting a suitable technology has become vital for the development of a project since it can largely influence the entire design of the installation, from the civil engineering to the dimensioning of the process equipment, and, as a result, greatly effect investment costs and, subsequently, operating costs.