Active vs passive charging
Process Linking - From Batch to Semi-Continuous Process
Batch manufacturing is still commonplace in the pharmaceutical and chemical industry. Such operations require to use intermediate packagings for product storage between each process step leading to low production flexibility, high process downtime, high risks of operator exposure, product contamination and sterility loss.
Dec's way to improve productivity, safety and containment at the same time is to interconnect production equipment in a closed way (i.e. discharging a centrifuge directly into a dryer or a reactor, direct charging from a blender to a tablet press, etc.).
Why you should link your processes :
Totally closed operation preventing cross contamination, product exposure (GMP compliant) and increasing safety
Full containment. Elimination of the requirement of a docking or containment system
Elimination of the requirement of a clean room
No intermediate storage required
Increased plant productivity with higher throughput
Decreased plant footprint and elimination of a charging floor
Possibility of complete automation of the process
Deceased number of process steps by interconnecting multiple equipment
Full CIP, SIP operation
Active vs Passive Charging
It is a common belief that the use of gravity to charge powder into process equipment is more economical posing less operation risks rather than using a more automated system.
However, experience has shown that this is often not the case and that the use of gravity could in fact lead to major safety issues and high operation costs.
Over many years, Dec has been developing and improving a concept to handle powder in a safe and contained manner without the use of gravity.
The concept is based on Active Charging - i.e. the use of energy to transfer powder - as opposed to Passive Charging where only gravity moves the powder.
The heart of this concept is the PTS Powder Transfer System® which uses vacuum and pressure to convey powder similar to the handling of liquids. This system can be used during various production stages, e.g. raw materials handling, charging and discharging process equipment and final product packing.
In order to decrease manual handling and improve operation, many industries, from pharmaceuticals to chemical companies, are trying to elimitate drums and bags from operation by replacing them with FIBCs (flexible intermediate bulk container) or better known as big bags. However, handling such large packagings brings other issues in terms of safety and manufacturing flexibility.
In line with latest safety, quality and containment standards, gravity charging is not accepted anymore as a proper way to charge reactors, regardless the fact that is has been industry standard for many years. In order to charge a vessel by gravity from a top floor, a minimum of safety devices are required in order to guarantee the safety and process reliability while charging the powder (see article of Dr. Martin Glor - Swiss Safety Institute).
The advantages of this concept can be explained in few examples.
PTS vs Big Bag Discharge for Reactor Charging by Gravity