To achieve all these, you need a machine with specific features that can optimize every stage in the tablet coating process.
In this article, I am going to discuss all important features of tablet coating machines that can increase productivity in the pharmaceutical industry.
Honestly, a tablet coating machine may have thousands of related features.
To make it easier for you to understand, during my case study, I did classify these features as follows:
In each of these cases, I adopted an easy and simple to understand technique.
- Listing and explaining all features in each category
- Discussing how each feature optimizes operations
With this summary, now let’s go straight to the main subject of this article:
1. Design and Structure of Tablet Coating Machine
First, design and structure are integral aspects that determine the efficiency and reliability of a tablet coater.
They will determine whether a tablet coating system meets the intended functions or not.
So, in this section, I will focus only on design and structural elements that will optimize operations.
But before that, I want you to watch the short video below:
Now, here are critical aspects to consider:
· A cGMP Compliant Design
The design of all pharmaceutical machines should conform to the Current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) regulations. It requires that the manufacturing process conforms to the set regulations by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Under this regulation, it is upon the tablet coating machine manufacturer to put measures in place that will help them meet the FDA regulations.
With cGMP compliant machines, you will be sure of a high quality coating process.
· Type of Material
Go for tablet coating machine with durable and corrosion resistant materials. In most cases the tablet coating machine manufacturers use AISI 316 for sections that are in direct contact with the product and AISI 304 for the non-contact parts.
Basically, the non-contact parts may include the outer casing, electrical panel, wheel joints, etc.
On the other hand, parts that are in contact with the product include coating drum, coating substrate container, spraying device, etc.
Here is a useful link where you can learn more about the difference between AISI 316 and AISI 304.
· Focus on the Ergonomic Design of Tablet Coater
A tablet coating machine with ergonomic design will improve its performance and reliability.
With such machines, there is no risk of accidents or unnecessary breakdowns.
For example, lab tablet coating machines should have wheels. This will make it easier to move the tablet coating machine to different locations.
So, you should take time to understand the design of the machine you intend to buy. With this information, it will be easy for to evaluate other aspects of the tablet coating machine.
Let’s review yet another fundamental aspect that will help you increase productivity.
2. Tablet Coating Process/Mechanism
Well, the working principle of a tablet coating machine varies depending on the design.
It is for this reason that I insist that you have to evaluate the design of a tablet coating machine.
Without that, it will be nearly impossible to understand how a tablet coating machine works.
At any given point, you may choose from the following types of tablet coating systems:
- Standard coating pan
- Perforated coating pan
- Fluid bed coater
You can learn more about these machines in my blog about: Classification & Types of Tablet Coating Machines.
It has all information you need to know about these machines.
Still, you must ask yourself these critical questions before you buy a tablet coater machine:
- How do I introduce tablets into the tablet machine?
- Is there a way to improve performance?
- Which mechanism does the tablet coater use to coat tablets?
- How can I optimize the coating process?
- Which mechanism does the machine use to dry the coated tablets?
By answering such important questions, I am sure you will be able to analyze the following critical features:
- Peristaltic pump
- Spraying gun, spraying nozzle and atomization process
- Drying air (both from the inlet and outlet)
- Coating drum or coating pan and how it rotates
- Solution tank
- Control mechanism
Of course, you need to evaluate the effectiveness of the air heating unit, electrical installation and exhaust, among other aspects.
The truth is that, failure to analyze all these elements will compromise the effectiveness of the tablet coating process.
With this knowledge, you can easily monitor and improve the tablet coating process at every stage. That is, from:
- Complicated and continuous tumbling motion of coating drum contents under the action of a guide plate
- Automatic spraying depending on the technology in place
- Rapid drying of the coating
But, this is not all, you need to consider:
3. Features for Easy Operation, Repair and Maintenance of Tablet Coater
Well, you need an automatic tablet coater that is easy to repair, maintain or change certain components where necessary.
It is only through this that you can optimize the tablet coating process. Obviously, this will result in better returns in the long-run.
So, let’s look at some of the critical components you should consider:
First, the coating drum, spraying nozzle and drying system should be easy to replace, repair or maintain. This will depend on the type of tablets you intend to coat.
Normally, I will recommend tablet coating systems with a modular design.
Second, go for a tablet coating machine with simplified parts or integrated systems. This is because such machines have a simple design, hence easy to maintain or repair.
Remember, isolating components makes troubleshooting tablet coating machines easy and simple.
It is for this reason that you will see machines having a separate exhaust, air heating unit or electrical system in different panels.
In addition to this, a tablet coating machine should have a complete manual, with technical drawings and components labeled. This way, troubleshooting or repairing the machine will be a simple process.
In short, the design of the tablet coater should be such that it is easy to dismantle and clean all parts that are in direct contact with the product.
This way, you can easily increase the productivity and efficiency of the entire process.
Apart from these, another critical aspect of any tablet coater is safety.
It is only a safe machine that will give technicians the confidence to handle all operations while reducing possible injuries.
Now, let’s review some of the key safety features of tablet coating machines.
4. Safety Features of a Tablet Coating Machine
The safety of both tablet coating machine and the operators is critical whenever you’re buying this pharmaceutical equipment.
Here are some of the fundamental safety features every tablet coating machine must have:
- Material processing section must be isolated from other technical components. This includes the coating drum, solution tank and sprayer. Basically, it should guarantee an airtight operation.
- Tablet coater must have emergency switches, alarm and lights. This will help in controlling the situation in case of an emergency.
- Interlocking systems such that, one must not access electrical panel when the power is on or open the coating drum when machine is operating.
- Every component of the machine should have clear marks or identity to avoid unnecessary confusions
- Processing area should be fully enclosed, with a solid polycarbonate window for viewing the process
- Machine should have a lighting system, if possible a fluorescent light to illuminate the coating pan
- It should have a food grade sealing mechanism
- Insulated surface to reduce the intensity of heat dissipated from the air heating chamber.
At times, the tablet coating machine manufacturer may decide to separate the various components of the machine.
For instance, an electrical panel can be separate from the main machine. Here is a good example.
This is also an important safety measure.
Apart from safety, another critical aspect to consider is the various features of a tablet coating machine that will reduce the cost of operation.
5. Technological Advancements in Tablet Coating Systems
Technological advancements and innovations are key pillars to accurate or precise coating process.
This is because it is only through this that you can control various coating processes as you have seen in point No. 2.
So, let me introduce you to some technological breakthroughs in the tablet coating systems.
· A Microprocessor Programmable Control Systems
A microprocessor plays a critical role in the automatic coating systems. This is because it stores all preprogrammed commands that coordinate the various functions of the machine.
Depending on the design and structure of the machine, this system can control and coordinate many functions such as:
- Control system running speed and temperature
- Help in the display of system parameters such as negative pressure in the coating pan
- Assist in recording and printing various states of the tablet coating machine
- Automatically adjust the atomization parameters
- Control spray gun and atomization of coating fluid
Basically, with the programmable control system, you will virtually operate the machine “without human intervention”.
This will improve the accuracy of the entire process, hence improve the tablet making process.
· Touch Screen Human Machine Interface (HMI)
This is yet another technological advancement that has improved how tablet coating machines work. Normally it is integrated with the SEIMENS PLC or any other control system.
Through the touch screen HMI, tablet coating machine operators can monitor vital aspects of this during the entire process.
It allows them to execute certain commands and monitor essential operations during the tablet compression process.
In short, with the technology, technicians can control nearly all operations of various components such as peristaltic pumps, spraying mechanism, adjusting nozzles, atomization, etc.
Even as you focus on the best technology, it is important to pay attention to user friendly control systems. This makes it easy to troubleshoot the machine in case of any breakdown.
A good control system should give comprehensive information about every aspect of the tablet coater. This helps in batch data management.
With all these in mind, now let’s focus on features that control pollution.
6. Pollution Control Features
Do you recall the CGMP requirements I mentioned in point No. 1 above?
Well, pollution control is an important segment of the cGMP regulations. Therefore, before you buy any machine, it should be one that meets the following conditions:
- Guarantees a quiet operation
- Coating process should take place in an airtight environment to eliminate any possibility of the system emitting dust or splashing the coating solution
This way, you can comfortably go about the tablet coating operation without facing charges relating to environmental pollution.
Moreover, your tablet coating system operators will not suffer from any health issues due to pollution.
In summary, before you buy any tablet coating machine, you must evaluate its construction, coating application, spraying system, automation, safety, efficiency and material handling features.
By evaluating these aspects, you will definitely get high quality automatic tablet coating systems that can optimize all operations in the pharmaceutical industry.
I know this can be an overwhelming task for you. This is why SaintyCo offers free consultation on pharmaceutical equipment.
Feel free to contact our technical team.
Also, in case you want to learn more about these tablet coating machines, here are useful links:
- Tablet Coating Techniques – By G. Ankit
- A Comprehensive Review on Tablet Coating – By Austin Publishing Group
- Types of Tablet Coating Machines – Source: SaintyCo
- Film Coating Machine Buying Guide for Beginners & Professionals – Source: SaintyCo Blog
- Film Coating Technology – By G. Sowjanya