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Tablet press field test

Pharmaceutical manufacturer puts efficiency to the test
Tablet press field test

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There are many ways of improving efficiency in tablet production – for example, by saving electricity, increasing output volumes, and reducing changeover times. With its F10i tablet press, Fette Compacting aims to make all of these adjustments at the same time. In an extensive field test, the pharmaceutical manufacturer Artesan put the efficiency of the machine to the test.

Since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, pharmaceutical manufacturers have been mobilising all of their forces to find vaccines and medicine to combat the Sars-CoV-2 virus while simultaneously safeguarding the supply of standard medication. At the same time, the pharmaceutical industry is also feeling the economic impacts of the pandemic – for example, through disruptions of the supply chains.

In view of these challenges, pharmaceutical companies are reliant on reducing costs and producing efficiently, whereby the focus is shifting to the role played by machine manufacturers. Fette Compacting regards it as its key task to support pharmaceutical customers in finding efficiency potentials for their production. Machine manufacturers nowadays need to know their customers’ entire machine park and keep an eye on all production processes. Fette Compacting has therefore initiated technological developments, which have considerably driven the topic of improving efficiency. One result of this work is the new i series.

For many years, Fette Compacting has been supplying pharmaceutical manufacturers with tablet presses from the classic i series. These include the high-performance 2090i and 3090i machines as well as the standard 1200i, 2200i, and 3200i tablet presses. More than 3000 models of this series are already in use around the world.

The new i Series represents an innovative development of these established machines. This concerns numerous aspects – from cross-generation system compatibility through dust-tight standard design to digital connectivity.

Quickly ready for production

The new i series was kicked off with the F10i tablet press, a single rotary press for smaller batches, which was presented to the public in 2019. Even the initial production figures during practical operation indicate that Fette Compacting is capable of keeping its promise of efficiency associated with the new generation of machines right from
the start.

Since July 2019, the pharmaceutical manufacturer Artesan has been testing the efficiency of the F10i tablet press at its production facility in Lüchow (Germany). Even commissioning of the new machine triggered great excitement among those responsible: it usually takes pharmaceutical manufacturers several weeks to set up a new machine for production but this period was reduced to a mere two days for the F10i. This is made possible by the cross-generation system compatibility displayed by the new i series. Despite its fully-revised design, almost all of the process-relevant assemblies featured in the F10i are identical to those of previous models. This is particularly valuable when companies are already using other machines from Fette Compacting: “Apart from the F10i, we are already using tablet presses from the series P1200, P2200, 1200i, and FE55,” claims Torsten Schewe, team leader at Artesan. “Because the old and new components are very similar, we had significantly less effort regarding validation and qualification.”

According to Schewe, the field test demonstrated that at Artesan the F10i is a suitable substitute for the P2200 from Fette Compacting. “We were easily able to process large magnesium tablets requiring a pressing force of 70 to 80 kN. And machine usage was considerably quieter than with
the P2200.”

Significantly higher output

But Artesan was even more impressed when previous production volumes were compared with the initial results of the F10i tablet press: on average, the new machine increased the output of all products tested by 63 %. In individual cases, it was even possible to quadruple the previous production volume.

Two factors are primarily responsible for these good results: the general efficiency of the machine and intensive support provided by Fette Compacting. During installation, service technicians adapted the process parameters and optimised the setup of the filling unit. These two fine adjustments alone had a significant impact on improving the performance.

Despite the high level of output, the F10i works very economically. So economically, in fact, that during the entire period of use, Artesan was able to save 15 % energy over a comparably high-performance machine. This is attributable to a very efficient torque drive, which can also be operated in an optimal performance range even for high production volumes.

The F10i has also proven its efficiency in terms of saving production time. The contract manufacturer Artesan converts its tablet presses for a new product roughly twice a week. For each changeover, the machine has to be cleaned of any residue of the previous product. In order to minimise these cleaning efforts, the cladding components to be cleaned were reduced by 70 %. For Artesan, this means 45 minutes saved for each product change. Seen over an entire year of production, this translates into 66 hours of additional production time.

Easy format change

Complex geometries are a challenge in tablet production. The more unusual the shape of a tablet is, the more complications can arise during the early phase of production. As revealed by the test production of a convex tablet, this problem could soon be a thing of the past at Artesan. Smooth production generally requires aligning the machine’s tablet scraper to the particular shape of the tablet. But it was possible to dispense with this adjustment for the F10i as the tablet scraper can be adjusted reproducibly using a coding element. This setting is saved by RFID for the respective formula, which means complex readjustment is not necessary.

Torsten Schewe draws a clear conclusion: “The field tests were convincing. With the F10i, Fette Compacting has built a tablet press, which represents a real gain at many levels. After the end of the test phase, we will be integrating the F10i into our regular machine park as fast as possible.”

Fette Compacting GmbH, Schwarzenbek


Author: Jörg Gierds

Senior Product Manager,

Fette Compacting

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