Quadro and Fitzpatrick have been trusted partners of the world’s top pharmaceutical, chemical and food ingredient processing manufacturers for a combined total of more than 120 years. We took the opportunity to catch up with Wilf Sangüesa, Product Manager for MPT Pharma Processing to share his experience and history of milling technologies and roll compaction:
What is your current role and key duties?
My role as Pharma Product Manager primarily concentrates on the health and welfare of our powder milling and security screening portfolio, ensuring that our current product range and new launches meet or exceed market expectations. Understanding our customers current, but more importantly, future needs is key to ensuring we deliver on what matters. I am also pleased to provide support to the CCS roll compaction product line.
How do you deliver customer obsession?
An investment in our milling and particle sizing equipment is also an investment in our unparalleled technical support and customer service. Customers sometimes require very quick answers however we aren’t always able to get every detail on first contact – especially when dealing with markedly different time zones. Therefore, to offer the best possible solution, I try to anticipate and understand the root cause of the problem and then offer as many “if and then” types of answers. I find this way of working often cuts down the overall time it takes to solve the problem and often, we get the right answer on the first try.
What has been your career experience to date?
After graduating in 1991 with a Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering, my whole career has been centered on working for companies within manufacturing environments. Several years' experience was gained with a company providing custom made, chemical-resistant storage and handling solutions for the chemical, petrochemical and pulp & paper industries. Following this, I moved to a business supplying industrial material handling equipment . I worked in project management and after-market support at an electro-domestic manufacturing company for several years. I then started my journey with Quadro in 2005 and have not looked back since.
The one commonality between the various career tenures, is that my roles have always been customer-facing. I believe this has served me well and made me aware that, regardless of the company’s equipment or product, people are ultimately looking for help. And being able to assist others in solving something, is what brings me satisfaction in my role and gives me pride in what I do.
The other facet of my role that I enjoy and find fulfilling is being able to educate others. I achieve this by either presenting at Industry or Academia-focused seminars and conferences by doing hands-on demos, which are always a lot of fun. I always think it is good to explain why certain things work the way they do and how, by utilizing equipment properly, it can perform so much better.
Why does Milling Matter?
Customers who use particle size reduction equipment do so to achieve a specific particle size distribution that will help them solve a problem. To give you an example of this, in the Pharma OSD industry, the powder’s particle size distribution (PSD) needs to be of a specific range to flow into the tablet press and be able to make good quality tablets (with the right dosage, weight and robustness, then the desired dissolution rate, efficacy and bioavailability will be achieved). If the PSDs are off, it can lead to all sorts of downstream challenges.
For the food industry, there are many reasons to mill: sometimes flavours and fragrances need to be the right size to blend and dissolve properly, powdered-milk may require to be of a specific bulk density, there are customers looking for some differentiator – like the irregular-sized chunks of nuts found in some ice-cream bars and so on - different goals require different particle sizes.
What this all means is that milling equipment needs to be set up with a unique combination of screens, impellers and RPM to meet each separate target. If customers cannot get the milling step right, it normally leads to production stoppages, product waste and reduced productivity. In one word: problems!
What does Milling look like in the future?
I believe the future of milling is as bright now as it was decades ago when new technologies like the FitzMillTM and Comil® were introduced to the market. The challenge now is to create smarter equipment with the flexibility to adapt to changes in production quickly and easily, with cleanability and measures for containment, to offer better control of the finished product and smarter in how it interacts and integrates with other systems. The market is ever-changing and equipment manufacturers must change with it, so the future of milling looks very enticing indeed.
But whether someone is looking to solve a powder sizing problem today or planning for an improved process in the future, if I could offer one piece of advice when it comes to the selection of milling equipment, that would be for users to do their homework. Look beyond the price - look for value. Review the features and benefits of one technology versus another to ensure that whatever problem you are trying to solve, is answered with the right choice. For example, there are technical reasons why some mills perform better than others with heat-sensitive powders, but those reasons are not always obvious on a piece of paper. Therefore, we encourage our customers to test and compare equipment side-by-side. Ask questions. Ask for examples of successful case studies.
We don’t often go and buy a car from a brochure and a quote from the dealer. We test drive it. We then test drive other cars and ultimately decide which one best fits our needs. This same approach should be taken with a mill before investing time and money, or one runs the risk of ending up with the proverbial “lemon”. And for me, the only place lemons belong are in lemonade!