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Increasing Efficiency in Pharmaceutical Milling and Powder Processing

We are delighted to be supplying our pharma milling and powder processing equipment to some of the biggest names in the Pharmaceutical sector. One of the leading companies in the production of potent prescription medication for North American patients looked to Quadro to help them improve their manufacturing capabilities and improve safety.

The Pharmaceutical Production Challenge

Our customer’s goal was to manufacture one of their more complex, potent products as efficiently as possible, ensuring downtime was kept to a minimum and available productive time maximized. During the manufacturing process, the drug is highly toxic, which presented a further challenge to be able to protect the operators from exposure. The manufacturing environment is also hazardous/explosion rated for Cl 2 DIV 2 “combustible dust”.

The Original System - Oscillating Mills

Originally the company used oscillating mills extensively in their powder processing system. However, they were finding that the oscillating mills were slowing down the manufacturing process in several ways.

Primarily they had low capacity, but the mills were also prone to frequent screen failure. The woven wire mesh screens were easily breaking, which resulted in contaminating a very expensive batch of the potent drug, which then had to be safely disposed of, followed by downtime whilst the screen was replaced. They also found that the milling process could become dusty due to the design of the oscillating milling machine.

Downtime due to a long cleaning time further impacted production capability as the machine design made it difficult to clean quickly. The company decided to look for newer, more efficient milling technology that would be more reliable, offer higher production capacity, whilst requiring less cleaning time and consequent downtime.

What Changes Were Made to the Milling Process?

Quadro Engineering was called in due to our milling knowledge and expertise in the pharmaceutical sector.

At first, the customer was quite cautious about installing new technology to replace their familiar oscillators. But after many discussions, Quadro was able to reassure the customer, and we installed a Comil overdriven model 194.

The customer immediately noticed how much faster (10x better capacity) and tighter the PSD was compared to their outdated, older oscillator technology. 

Read more about the importance of particle size distribution in pharmaceuticals.

194 Overdriven Comil

Their R&D Department then purchased an Underdriven Comil Model U10 for making their trials on and discovered how well-contained the Comil design is and how easy and fast it is to clean.

The robust, reliable tooling design also improved the longevity of the machine and guaranteed more efficient production time with fewer stoppages and downtime.

U10 Underdriven Comil

Initially, there was a requirement to custom design the Underdriven Comil into the existing upstream and downstream processes. It was Quadro’s ability to be able to understand the customers’ needs and to be able to provide a top-quality response by tailoring and custom designing the milling equipment to meet the highly specific requirements.

The result was a much-improved production facility, with enhanced safety standards and a fully satisfied customer.

The Future of Milling and Powder Processing

Now that the SDx range is available, the customer is in the process of evaluating how to take advantage of the versatility and flexibility afforded by the exchangeable technology of the SDx, which will enable them to interchange between a Comil U20x, a FlexSift S20x and a Fitzmill D6Ax.

Sdx Milling and Processing Machine for Pharma

The portable, adjustable lift stand is ideal for their blending room, and the ability to deploy the U20x for general powder milling, then switch to the D6Ax Hammer Mill for fine granulation milling and use the S20x for high-capacity sifting of raw materials, like pharma-grade agglomerated sugar, will further improve their manufacturing efficiencies.

Case Study In Summary

This company, which produced a highly potent pharmaceutical, found that the following were improved by utilizing the Quadro Comil range of models:

  • Capacity increased as efficiencies improved
  • Superior product quality was achieved
  • Safety in the factory improved as there is no longer a risk of exposure to toxic drugs
  • Cleaning was now much faster, so downtime was kept to a minimum
  • Mechanical reliability was enhanced, reducing the need for maintenance
  • Operator savings – fewer people are now needed to run the milling operation

We look forward to helping them further improve their factory and their manufacturing processes in the years to come.

If you would like to find out how we might help you, then please do get in contact with us

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Posted by Matt Baumber


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