August 5, 2013

The pharmaceuticals enterprise MEDICE Arzneimittel recently started producing its MEDICE gel for burns and wounds and its semi-solid Soventol products in its own factory. For this purpose, the company invested in a new, high-performance filling system: the FP 18-1 by OYSTAR IWK.

It would be hard to find a neighbourhood pharmacy in Germany that does not sell the proven wound and skin treatment products by Iserlohn-based MEDICE. Whether for scrapes, insect stings, allergic reactions or minor burns, the applications for Soventol et al are manyfold. The manufacturer’s quality criteria for its products are equally high. This led MEDICE to take the decision last year, as part of its strategic realignment, to put an end to the contract packaging of its Soventol HC Creme and Soventol Gel products and bring it in-house. However, the old facility was only capable of handling around three million tubes per year, so it was not nearly big enough. The search began for a new, more powerful tube filling system.

The answer was found in the FP 18-1 by OYSTAR IWK, a leading, international supplier of tube filling machinery. The system meets all of MEDICE’s needs to a T, with state-of-the-art technology, a GMP-compliant design and access from all sides for thorough cleaning. In addition, the FP 18-1 is easy to use and needs few operators.

Intuitive menu navigation

“We have been running the FP 18-1 for six months now and we are completely satisfied,” said Reiner Pöstges, Head of the Production and Technology business unit at MEDICE. The operators especially appreciate the intuitive menu navigation and ergonomics of the TEOS HMI touch panel, developed by the OYSTAR Group. “Each individual process step is clearly displayed on the 15.4” widescreen display,” explained Pöstges. “In addition, it is a simple thing to manage the format data, and the quick access to batch protocols and recipes are of great help to us in process validation.”

Switching product is quick and simple because most format parts can be changed without tools and the transporter rises or lowers automatically. “It only takes three tubes for the system to set the exact fill weight for a new format,” reported Torsten Ebel, a fitter at MEDICE. “In order to find the precise fill weight so rapidly, the tube filler software automatically calibrates the servomotor-driven piston stroke.”

Four products in nine formats

Altogether, the FP 18-1 at MEDICE is packaging four different products (creams and gels) in nine different tube formats ranging from 15 to 100 g. The system fills aluminium tubes with threefold seams at a rate of up to 100 tubes per minute and then automatically packages them into collapsible boxes using the OYSTAR IWK SC 5 cartoning machine.  

A production campaign consists of up to four tonnes of bulk goods. These are filled into the so-called inliner in batches of 1,000 kg each. Inliners are multi-layered plastic bags that are stored in an intermediate bulk container (IBC) and placed next to the tube filling machine during filling. A feeder consisting of a progressive cavity pump and a 10 l accumulator then moves the product to a dispensing station.

“By switching to inliners, we are breaking completely new ground,” explained Martin Becker, Head of Packaging at MEDICE. “However, the entire system has run stably and seamlessly since we started it up. We have already nearly doubled our efficiency in filling and packaging tubes compared to before.

“We also skip the complex process of cleaning containers that come into contact with the product and validating that cleaning. Furthermore, we minimise the risk of contamination and save space needed for storage.”

Steps have also been taken for the further expansion of production. The FP 18-1 is designed to be outfitted with modules such as a heat welding station and a cutting station to allow for the additional processing of plastic and/or laminate tubes.

MEDICE Arzneimittel Pütter GmbH & Co. KG, +49 2371 9370, info@medice.de, www.medice.de.

OYSTAR IWK Verpackungstechnik GmbH, +49 7244 9680, info-pharmapackaging@oystar-group.com, www.oystar-group.com.

August 5, 2013

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