Supply of raw materials in the continuous production process

Published on
Process Equipment
Mechanical Engineering
Process Engineering
Production Chemistry
Sand and Solids Management

Supply of raw materials in the continuous production process

Compared to the traditional, "rigid" batch process, which still dominates the pharmaceutical industry, continuous production of drugs and medical products offers a number of advantages when it comes to production output. Moreover, it is a crucial factor in improving product quality and process development through continuous and detailed evaluation of product data. Unlike batch production, a continuous production system can significantly reduce production costs, shorten production times and significantly increase overall efficiency.  Our client is a globally known pharmaceutical manufacturer with several production sites in Germany. With the new production facility, our client has succeeded in achieving a technological milestone in continuous production in the pharmaceutical industry.


Project description

In order to ensure a controlled, safe container product transfer, a GMP-compliant raw material supply was implemented in two production lines to feed the continuous mixing system (CMT). In addition, a continuous dosing function was installed. 

According to our customer's main requirements, the system had to be dust-free (up to OEB 3) and provide high plant availability, as well as an automatic CIP (Cleaning in Place) cleaning function. With the principle of sustainability and Industry 4.0 in mind, emphasis was placed on fully automatic integration into the overall process as well as energy efficiency of the systems used and regional processing and production. 

Process step 1.

After inspecting the incoming goods, the FIBCs containing various active pharmaceutical APIs are transported to the 5 Plant partner unloading stations, each divided into two chambers. Basically, the unloading stations consist of four main components:

- The connection system is the core component for safe and dust-free connection of the FIBC. The product to be unloaded is gravimetrically discharged into a suction shoe that forms the interface for the next process step.

- A support table minimizes the weight of the FIBC and is used to secure the handling of hanging loads.

- A massage system optimizes the unloading process and is especially suitable for poorly flowing or bridging products.

- The corresponding frame is required for secure mounting of the connection system and the FIBC cover. A pneumatic clamping system is used for securing the FIBC outlet. Depending on the area of application, working height and mounting dimensions, there are several additional options. 

- A rail with a chain hoist and loading device is required to safely lift the FIBC and place it on top of the connection system for unloading. 


A special feature of this project was the 5-piece cantilever frame that consisted of three complete gantry units with two cross struts. This special custom construction led to 

significant cost savings during the manufacturing process and enabled simplified assembly in confined spaces. The discharge system (AAS-EF) is used for dust-free discharge through a two-lever mechanism to avoid the risk of entrapment. 

The integrated dedusting filter separates dusty and dust-free air (clean gas side) and prevents product from entering the clean gas side or the extraction unit. 

An additional inline screener with protective sieve prevents impurities and prevents foreign contamination. A mobile transport trolley allows quick and easy transport of the connection system and suction shoe for wet cleaning in a separate wash room. 


Process step 2

Transportation to the next process step is generally a difficult task in bulk integrated weighing system solids technology. Protection of the operator and avoidance of cross-contamination is the highest priority. After dust-free unloading of the FIBCs, the products are transported to the next room by means of a pneumatic conveying system (PCC) and a fluid optimized and specifically adapted piping system. 

A total of 10 Plant partner ProClean Conveyors (PCC) have been implemented for safe and smooth processing of powders and granules. Depending on the choice of additional options, the PCC guarantees an increase in efficiency and flexibility and ensures quality and process safety.

The design of the PCCs used in this project was adapted to the requirements of the pharmaceutical manufacturer:

- A slightly conical shape of the knock-out vessel simplifies the product output of poorly flowing powders for a proper and smooth discharge process.

- The special ViwateQ surface finish prevents product residue and adhesion in the whipping vessel. This procedure was specially developed for the pharmaceutical and food industries and is a milestone in the field of surface treatment. Moreover, it provides ideal conditions for cleaning.

- To prevent bridging, the ProClean Conveyor is equipped with an ejection valve and a pneumatic vibrating motor.

- One supports the loss-in-weight scale downstream. Thus, very smooth and detailed continuous weighing and dosing with high production output can be achieved.


Process step 3

In the final step, the five loss-in-weight scales feed the continuous mixer. 


If we look at the overall logistics of powder processing in continuous pharmaceutical production, we see several new challenges. Especially the transportation of raw materials in sufficient volumes and of perfect quality at the right time to ensure a steady, continuous process is a complex task for plant operators. 

For continuous processes, especially for transporting raw materials in bulk, plant partner is your ideal partner in this industry and offers a suitable solution for every application.


More information:

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