Any pharmaceutical production process, whether capsule filling, tablet compression or ampoules filling is never complete without a reliable pharmacy packaging machine.

Remember, throughout the pharmaceutical products distribution channel, they must remain safe, without any slightest damage.

The reality is:

You can only achieve this by adopting a safe, dependable and accurate pharmacy packing machine.

Today’s guide will take you through the various packaging equipment in the pharmaceutical industry.

Whether you’re packaging capsules, liquids, syringes or ampoules, you’ll learn everything you need to know in the pharmaceutical packaging industry.

Let’s take a look:

What is Pharmacy Packaging Machine?

Pharmacy packaging involves suitably placing the pharmaceuticals so as to retain and sustain their pharmaceutical effectiveness.

If well packaged, the pharmaceuticals should stay effective from the time of packaging until their time of consumption.

Tablets and capsules in blister packaging

Tablets and capsules in blister packaging

Packaging increases the overall quality appearance and helps by enabling good branding, thus promoting business success.

A pharmacy packaging machine, therefore, helps to prepare the pharmaceuticals and nutraceutical products for safe distribution.

An excellent pharmaceutical packaging machine has provisions such as sealers, label applicators, hand packing solution, case packers, and hard film overwrappers.

It should be flexible enough to work for different unique situations.

Specifically, the machine should provide packaging that ensures patient safety and drug efficacy throughout its shelf life.

It must also take care of uniformity and documentation of the packages.

Here is an example of pharmaceutical packaging machine:

Blister packing machine

Blister packing machine

In summary, the machine should be able to provide and ensure proper presentation, identification, and protection of the product.

Other factors include containment, information, compliance, convenience, stability, and integrity.

Pharmaceutical Packaging Requirements

In order to ensure adherence to the required packaging standards, specific requirements are of necessity.

We will discuss these factors under two broad classifications as follows.

1) Packaging Materials for Pharmaceuticals

The choice of packaging materials is critical because of ensuring the safety of the ultimate consumer.

Pharmaceutical packaging material

Pharmaceutical packaging material

As such, the choice of a package begins by first determining the product’s chemical and physical characteristics.

You will as well need to look at the product’s protective needs and marketing requirements.

The choice for a packaging material usually depends on

  • The level of protection required
  • Customer conveniences, such as size and weight
  • Filling method
  • Compatibility with the dosage form
  • Sterilization method

It also depends on the type/level of packaging that the container or package will be used.

These types can be divided into:

i. Primary packaging-this is the material that is usually in direct contact with and holds/envelops the product. It is, therefore, the most sensitive when it comes to material selection

ii. Secondary packaging-This is used to put together many primary packages. It does not get direct contact with the product.

iii. Tertiary packaging- They are mostly used for bulk handling, warehouse storage, and transport shipping

Packaging drugs

 Packaging drugs

The most commonly used materials in pharmaceutical packaging include:

i. Glass-like bottles, vials, ampules, syringes, i.v containers and aerosol containers.

ii. Plastics- like bottles, pouches, tapes, tubes, aerosol containers, and laminates.

iii. Rubber – such as closures, caps, vials wrappers, and plungers.

iv. Metals – for example, collapsible tubes, foils, needles, and aerosol containers

v. Paper or cardboard – mainly used in secondary packaging labels, inserts, display units, pouches, laminates, cartons, corrugated boxes, foils, and paper drums

In general, the materials for packaging must, therefore, have the following characteristics:

  • Must not be reactive with the product
  • Offer protection from environmental conditions
  • Must not introduce or add new tastes or odors to the product
  • Materials must not be toxic
  • Should meet applicable requirements for tamper resistance
  • Materials must be approved by relevant bodies like the FDA (for the USA)
  • Should also be adaptable to commonly used high-speed packaging equipment

2) Quality Standards in Pharmaceutical Packaging

Packaging for pharmaceuticals is a matter of grave concern for the drug manufacturers and consumers alike.

The main aim of pharmaceutical packaging is usually to protect the medicine from external factors like moisture and contamination.

This is in a bid to ensure patient safety, drug efficacy, and extended shelf life.

These quality standards are usually engraved in government regulations regarding the packaging of medicines. World Health Organization (WHO) standards are accepted worldwide as the standards governing pharmaceutical packaging.

However, many countries have made certain adjustments to these standards based on their specific needs.

This has led to standards such as the BPCRS and the European Pharmacopoeia.

Packaging drugs

Packaging drugs

Packaging material performance is also covered by non-pharmacopeia standards like those of the British Standards Institute (BSI).

Others are the DeutscherNormenausschuss (DIN) and the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).

We are thus going to expound one of the general standards in pharmaceutical packaging.

Some of these rules are:

Packing syringes

Packing syringes

· Anti-tampering Standards

Pharmaceutical packaging should be tamper resistant.

This has especially become a requirement after past incidences when Tylenol tampered with potassium cyanide.

· Labeling Packaged Pharmaceutical Products

The pharmaceutical industry has stringent labeling requirements, which key players in the field must abide by.

The US, for example, has the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act, which guides how this labeling must be done.

For example, the label must include product identity, contents, manufacturer and supplier address, net quantity, and prescription information.

· Pharmacopeia Standards

Pharmaceutical packaging must adhere to global pharmacopeia standards set up by the WHO.

For example, any water used in the process must be EP grade.

This is to ensure the water is low in impurities, and that it conforms to worldwide specifications.

· Pharmaceutical Products Packaging Site

The location where the packaging process takes place is also of great concern.

Pharmaceutical packaging and repackaging must be done in a cleanroom.

Working in the cleanroom ensures minimal particles in the air.

This makes it ideal for packaging products that are sensitive to contamination.

· International Regulations Regarding Pharmaceutical Packaging for Children

International regulations also require that pharmaceutical packaging for children undergoes some performance tests.

It is necessary to confirm that the packages are too difficult for children to open.

The child safety cap is, for example, a very effective child-resistant feature that is used in medicine bottles for children.

· Regulations for Medicines with Aspirin

Medicines containing aspirin, paracetamol, and more than 24 milligrams of elemental iron must be subjected to child-resistant packaging.

This is to protect young children from accidental poisoning.

Functions of Pharmaceutical Packaging Machinery

With the modernization of the pharmaceutical industry across the globe, pharmaceutical packaging has not been left behind.

Many sophisticated types of machinery are now being used for packaging pharmaceutical products.

Blister packing process

Blister packing process

These machines serve as the sure guarantee for mechanization and automation of the packaging process.

Let us go through some of the functions and roles of these machines.

The general functions of the pharmaceutical packaging machines are to ensure containment, proper labeling, and safety of the drugs.

The washing machine, for example, is used to wash the pharmaceutical products.

The filling machine is used for filling liquid products, while a capping machine helps in capping and sealing the containers.

Liquid packaging machine

Liquid packaging machine

The automatic sticker machine, on the other hand, is used to apply labels and stickers on the containers.

These are just some of the machines and their functions.

However, for a better understanding of these functions, we shall break down and discuss their roles as follows:

i. The use of pharmaceutical packaging machine helps to enhance specialization in pharmaceutical packaging. This, in turn, improves production efficiency a great deal.

ii. Secondly, the mechanization of the pharmaceutical packaging process reduces labor intensity in the sector. The implication of this is reduced product costs. This is as opposed to manual packaging, which requires much more labor force.

iii. Manual packaging is also characterized by splashing and wastage of products, leading to losses. Machines, on the other hand, package with much precision.

iv. They ensure the hygiene and safety of the packed drugs and improve drug quality and market competitiveness. Use of these machinery reduces drug contact with human hands. Packaging speed is also high, meaning the packaging happens fast, thus reducing the time of drug exposure to the environment. This minimizes the chances of drug contamination.

v. Pharmaceutical packaging machinery is used to ensure a long shelf life of drugs. Vacuum, ventilation and aseptic packaging machines are, for example, used to make drug circulation more extensive. They aid in extending the shelf life of the drugs.

vi. They help to save on infrastructure investment by reducing the packaging space. Manual hand-packing requires many workers, who in turn require ample working space. This increases the investment in infrastructure. Mechanized packaging, on the other hand, is packed, hence reducing the amount of space that is required.

vii. Usually, the packaging machines operate in unison with label applicator machines. This has led to improved branding and marketing of products. Labeling enhances the identity of the product. This allows you to create a clear distinction between your products and those of your competitors.

Pharmaceutical products packaging

Pharmaceutical product packaging

Types of Pharmaceutical Packaging Equipment

In this chapter, we’ll look into the different types of pharmaceutical machines.

Machines are meant to make work easier, improve consistency and lower labor costs.

The three major types that cut across are:

  1. Manual pharmacy packaging machine – The machine is manually operated throughout all the stages of the packaging process.
  2. Semi-automatic pharmacy packaging machine – The operator manually handles some bits of the packaging process like product insertion, while the machine solely runs other stages.
  3. Fully-automatic pharmacy packaging machine – The machine effectively runs every stage, has an automatic in-feeding system, and the operator only supervises its performance.

After this brief and general categorization, let us now further delve into a more detailed categorization of these machines.

In this regard, we shall look at the following types:

1) Pharmacy Blister Packing Machine

Blister packaging equipment is one of the most popular pharmacy packing machine.

Blister packing machine

Blister packing machine

What is Blister Packing Machine?

The pharmacy blister packing machine is a unit dosing packaging machine for the pharmaceutical industry.

This machine uses blister materials like polyvinyl chloride, polystyrene, and polypropylene, among others.

Blister packing machines have features such as vibration feeder and crisp remover.

These features help in eliminating powder and crisps inside the medicine.

The machines are able to perform multiple functions in one process.

They can handle auto-counting, horizontal perforation, waster side cutting, printing batch numbers, and auto punching, all at the same time.

Functions of the Pharmacy Blister Packing Machine

As a pharmaceutical packaging machine, this equipment performs the following key functions:

Blister packing equipment

Blister packing equipment

a) Tablet Packaging

Some of the ingredients used to make tablets are either light or moisture sensitive.

The blister packaging machine is the best option when it comes to protecting the tablets against these.

Tablets in blister packs

Tablets in blister packs – Photo courtesy: Cooperators

b) Blister Packaging of Capsules

Despite being already enclosed in soft gelatin or hard gelatin shells, the capsules still need good protection, which is only guaranteed by blister packaging.

Capsules in blister pack

Capsules in blister pack

c) Packaging other Products

Blister packaging machine can also be used to package other products like syringes, bottles, ampoules, and vials.

Vials and ampoules in blister pack

Vials and ampoules in blister pack

In such cases, special tooling systems, with specific automation procedures, are usually required.

Types of Blister Packaging Machine

There are many ways of classifying Blister packaging machines.

In this guide, however, we will only look at a classification based on the type of material.

Let us therefore briefly explore each of the types:

1. PVC/Al Blister Packing Machine

It is also called plastic – aluminum blister pack.

It uses PVC as a forming film.

The lidding material, in this case, is usually aluminum

Benefits PVC/Al Blister Packing Machine

  • Offers a low-cost thermoforming process
  • Making complex blister cavities is easier with this machine
  • The transparent PVC/plastic make it easy to examine products and reject damaged ones
  • Does not require special designs

Disadvantages of PVC/Al Blister Packing Machine

  • Has no per perfect barrier to moisture and oxygen
  • Not suitable for light-sensitive products owing to the transparent PVC/plastic

2. Alu/Alu Blister Packaging Machine

It uses a cold forming technique. Preheating is not needed.

It forms cavities using the stamping mechanism.

The lidding material is an aluminum foil.

Advantages of Alu/Alu Blister Packing Machine

  • It offers a perfect barrier against moisture and light
  • Guarantees extended product shelf life

Disadvantages of Alu/Alu Blister Packing Machine

  • It has a relatively slow production speed
  • Aluminum is opaque, meaning you will need advanced machines for product inspection
  • It is more expensive and has higher operational costs

3. Alu/PVC/Alu Blister Packaging Machine

Also called Tropical blister packing machine, it has an additional aluminum forming and sealing station.

This is where the thermoformed PVC/Alu blister package is sealed with a tropical aluminum

Advantages of Alu/PVC/Alu Blister Packing Machine

  • The machine is easy to operate
  • Easy to inspect due to transparent PVC/Al
  • There is a total barrier to light, water, and oxygen
  • Ensures added protection to the products

 Disadvantages of Alu/PVC/Alu Blister Packing Machine

  • Production costs are higher
  • It is bulkier and takes more space due to the additional forming and sealing station

Parts of a Blister Packaging Machine

A blister packaging machine comprises of several parts assembled.

However, we shall only look at the main components. They include:

1. Touch Screen Operator Interface

This is the part that guarantees a human-machine interface.

A good touchscreen enables the operator to manage various processes with ease.

It enables the user to:

Touchscreen control panel

Touchscreen control panel

  • Monitor production status and statistics
  • Troubleshoot the machine.
  • Configure the operation. This is done by keying in specific requirements and parameters for a particular run.

2. Blister Pack Tooling

This is the tool that determines the shape of blister packing.

This usually comes configured and designed for thermoforming, cold forming and intermittent or continuous production.

Blister shaping tooling

Blister shaping tooling

3. PVC or Al Feeding Roller

This is what pushes the material to the first stage of the packaging process.

The roller always moves in synchrony with the movement of other mechanisms.

The machine has a motor system.

Feeding roller system

Feeding roller system

4. Electric Motors

Enclosed at the bottom section of the machine, the motors transmit motion via shafts, belts, and gears.

Electric motor drive system

Electric motor drive system

5. Turning Rollers

The feeding roller and the turning roller, together, form the material feeding system.

They feed the material in the machine by exerting tension on the material from the feeding roller.

6. The Heating Box

This is where the material is first received once it enters the blister packaging machine.

It is here that the material is heated in readiness for forming.

7. Material Forming

This is where cavities of desired shapes are formed for loading the material.

8. Guide Rail

As the name suggests, it is a rail that guides the formed cavities to the next step of the process.

9. Material/Product Feeding

This section is located along the guide rail.

Here, the feeding machine fills the cavities with desired materials like capsules, syringes, tablets or drug bottles.

Vials blister packing and cartoning equipment

Vials blister packing and cartoning equipment

10. Heat Sealing Mechanism

This is where the material is prepared for the next stage-where the filled cavities are sealed.

11. Sealing Material Feeder

The material for covering the cavity is usually kept here.

It rotates slowly to let the sealing material move to the guide rail.

12. Pressing Mechanism

It presses the sealing material and form material together, leading to a permanent seal.

13. Waste Material Winder

This is where the waste material from the sealing material and the forming material are wound.

Waste Material Winder

Waste material winder

14. Tow Mechanism

It “tows” the sealed package from one step to another by pulling it in predetermined stages.

15. Blanking Mechanism

It removes the finished blister pack from the main material.

You can also include an indentation mechanism at this point in case you want to print batch numbers of the manufacturing process.

16.   Product Chute

This is the exit route for the finished blister pack as it leaves the machine.

17. Lubrication systems

Each of the many moving parts of a blister packaging machine needs lubrication.

These sections are therefore fitted with automatic lubrication systems to ensure the parts do not waste away.

Blister packing ampoules

Blister packing ampoules

Working Principle of Blister Packing Machine

The different types of blister packaging machine have slight differences in the way they function.

However, we are going to focus on the general working principle of the blister packaging machines.

Step 1: Switching on Pharmacy Blister Packing Machine

Upon switching on the machine, the unwinding station and other parts of the machine start moving.

The forming film then moves to the first stage of processing.

Step 2: At the Heating Station

This only applies to thermoforming blister packaging machines.

At the preheating stage, the machine heats the form film until it is easy to form.

Set the heater temperature based on the material you are using.

Step 3: Forming Cavities on the Film

Either die plates, or compressed air is used to form suitable cavities.

Once you have these cavities, the machine will then cool the film to form a rigid plastic cavity.

Step 4: Filling and Checking Empty Cavities

Next, the blister machine fills the cavity with the product, either manually or automatically, depending on the type of machine you are using.

If you are using the Alu blister pack machine, it is important to check that the cavities are empty.

Aluminum is opaque, meaning you may not be able to see through the film.

Step 5: At the Blister Seal Station

The lidding material needs to be in place by the time the forming film reaches the blister sealing station.

Blister packing process

Blister packing process – Photo courtesy: Safder

Here, the lidding material covers the entire surface of the forming film with products.

The film is then moved to the sealing station heating system.

To ensure that the product is sealed tightly, the system exerts force on the seal as the temperature increases.

Step 6: Product Printing and Trimming

The pack moves to the printing station, where the machine engraves the required message in it.

Next, the machine pushes the pack to the trimming station, which trims it into required units and lets them out.

If any pack is not well sealed, the machine rejects it.

The forming film and lidding material that remain are rolled by the scrap collector.

2) Strip Packing Machine

A strip packing machine is one of the most commonly used pharmacy packing machine.

This is as a result of its ideal high speed rate for packing various products like tablets, capsules, etc.

The machine has a very high packing speed of up to 2400 units per minute.

Strip packing machine

Strip packing machine

The machine is well constructed and thus, it provides high-quality results due to its ability to control the temperatures to the optimum.

It is also able to exert pressure on the rollers while sealing.

Thus, the machine is suitable for most heat-sealable foils such as aluminum poly, glassine, and paper poly.

Pharmaceutical companies use the machine for packaging tablets and pills.

The chemical and foodstuff industries also use this machine.

In this guide, however, we shall limit our discussion to the applications of the machine in the pharmaceutical industry.

It is useful in double plastic hot sealing packing and is also used where the products are light-sensitive.

Strip packing machine is associated with unique features, which makes it easy for the machine to perform its functions.

Its cutting arrangements can be adjusted, which are easily modified to make easy and fast for use with other various products.

The coating is more resistant and corrosive as well as robust

The machine is compact to provide minimal space floor in addition to precise sealing rollers.

Its parts are standard and interchangeable.

Functions and Applications

The machine is versatile, meaning that it can adopt different packaging abilities according to the packaging needs at hand.

Because of this exceptional quality, the stripping machine is used for packaging a variety of products.

The machine packs and seals products using laminated foils.

As already stated earlier, we shall limit this guide to what is relevant to the pharmaceutical industry.

Strip packing machine technical drawing

Technical drawing of strip packing machine

In this regard, the stripping machine has the following functions and applications in the pharmaceutical industry:

  • Used to package uncoated and coated tablets
  • It is also used to package hard gelatin, soft gelatin, and capsules.
  • Confectionary products such as lozenges and medicinal chewing gums are also packaged using this machine.
  • It is also used in the production line for automatic production in the big industries.

Types of Strip Packing Machine

Strip packing machine exists in various types due to the need for packing different types of products.

Manufacturing companies also design the machines in different types according to the standards and norms of the company in addition to customer’s specifications.

Let us have a look at some of the various types of the strip packing machine.

a) High-speed Tablet Strip Packing Machine

It is a workhorse machine mostly used for packaging large quantity products.

It is installed with a pinhole device in addition to an easily adjustable feeding system.

The machine can meet the requirement of every product as it also has an adjustable conveyor table.

The ability to deal with various products is reinforced with the simplicity in adjusting the conditions of operation.

Sealing of the packaged products is excellent due to plated Teflon, which is heat resistant.

The operating parameters like temperature can be set by the APID controller, which are in turn recorded digitally.

b) Soft Double Aluminum Strip Packing Machine

More suitable for products that require packaging between two aluminum foil sheets like foodstuffs, candles, pills, and even tablets.

It is best used to pack products that cannot tolerate when exposed to sunlight.

This is because it is able to operate without the presence of light.

The machine automatically finalizes other works like cutting scrap margin and even printing of batch numbers.

c) AI/AI Packing Machine and Foil Strip Packing Machine

This type is also ideal for sealing products between sheets of aluminum foil, and the packaged products are light tight and airtight.

Products between plastic films can as well be sealed.

The machine provides many automatic functions like vertical pressing, screening of fractures, and printing of batch numbers.

Generally, most of these pharmacy packing machines offer quick and straightforward changeover of pouch size.

They can automatically complete the packaging process.

Components of Strip Packing Machine

We are only going to discuss some of the major components of the machine:

Strip packing machine component

Strip packing machine component

  • Temperature controller – controls the temperature of the machine
  • Sealing roller – seals the already packaged products
  • Adjustable conveyor table – pushes the products from one stage to another
  • Adjustable feeding system – allows the products into the machine
  • Safety glass cover – protects the one operating the machine from broken pieces as well as from the materials flown in by moving air.
  • Cutter – prevents damages to the products

Other parts of the machine include;

Feeding system for strip packing machine

Feeding system for strip packing machine

  • Vibratory feed control
  • Cartridge
  • Cello poly, Glassine Poly
  • Slitting devices
  • Disc feeding system
  • Electric temperature system
  • Strip counter

Working Principle of Strip Packing Machine

First, here is what happens at the sealing roller cavities.

The products to be sealed pass from the hopper through the stainless steel feeding system to the sealing roller cavities.

Strip packing process

Strip packing process

At the sealing cavities, the product meets the laminated foils, which are drawn from the two rollers.

These foils pack and seal the product in a continuous strip.

Next, the strip passes through the vertical and horizontal gutter assemblies.

It is at this point that the continuous strip is chopped into desired sizes of the strip packages.

The fully packaged product then exits the machine.

3) Effervescent Tablets Packing Machine

Effervescent tablet packing equipment is also a popular pharmacy packing machine.

Effervescent tablets

Effervescent tablet

What is an Effervescent Tablets Packing Machine?

Effervescent Tablets packing machine is designed to pack effervescent tablets into tubes.

The machine orientates and accurately packs large numbers of tablets in the elongated tubes.

This makes it suitable for packaging fragile products like the effervescent tablets within a short time.

Current designs of the effervescent tablet packing machine have improved features like safety cover which have enhanced its operation.

It is as well designed with guaranteed security as well as better performance.

Effervescent tablet tube filling machine

Effervescent tablet tube filling machine

 It has fewer format parts as well as components as a result of a reduced amount of machine movements.

The effervescent Tablets packing machine adopts the features of a PLC for centralized control.

The PLC is composed of programs that control every stage movement of the machine during its operation.

It has a reliable automatic and steady performance.

For example, in case there are no tablets, covers, or even bottles, the machine automatically gives an alarm and finally shuts down.

In order to meet the requirement of GMP, the part of the machine in contact with the tablet is made from either a strong 316 or 304 stainless steel.

When it comes to choosing a pharmacy packing machine for packing effervescent tablets, you can choose either:

  • Semi-automatic effervescent tablet packing machine or,
  • Fully automatic effervescent tablet packing machine

Functions of Effervescent Tablets Packing Machine

As we have already hinted in our introduction, this machine is majorly used in the pharmaceutical industry.

However, it is also used in nutraceuticals, as well as food and beverage industries.

Let us now have a look at some of its uses in the named industries.

  • In the pharmaceutical industry, this machine is used in the packaging of effervescent tablets. The drugs are then used for relieving and treating fever, pain as well as respiratory infections.
  • In nutraceuticals, the machine is used in packaging of effervescent nutraceuticals like the vitamins and even minerals.
  • Although not relevant in our theme in this guide, the machine is also used in the food industry to pack effervescent products. The products, in this case, can easily dissolve in water; hence, the food products are preserved when packaging is done.

Components of Effervescent Tablet Packing Machine

Let us have a look at some of the major parts of the machine

  • Cap vibrating pan- places capping to the vibrating feeding in accordance with the direction of the design cap

Cap hopper

Cap hopper

  • Feeding Vibrating parts – this part is designed to manually put the tablet into the hopper. It also sends tablets to the sorting parts, leading to automatic sorting of tablet parts. This feeding part of the machine keeps sending tablets until it is full.

Tablets feeding unit

Tablet feeding unit

  • Tablet sorting parts and collection parts- the function of this part of the machine is to sort and arrange tablets well according to the quantity and in the same direction. It also collects together the tablets and sends them to push tablets parts
  • Push tablets parts – this part of the machine puts the tablets into the bottles

Inserting tablets

Tablets inserting unit

  • Tube hoppers parts – puts the already packed bottles in a similar direction. It as well sorts and arranges the bottles.
  • Press-capping parts- this part automatically presses the cap of the bottle by the use of a press-capping machine. The bottle is rejected when its cap is not properly pressed.

Sealing unit

Sealing unit

  • Electric control parts- this is the part of the machine that powers its operation. It is also in this part that the PLC control is found. The control devices give an alarm and even stops the machine when the product is not packed.

Working Principle of Effervescent Tablet Tube Packaging Unit

Various types of effervescent packing machine almost use the same power rating.

When the machine is powered on, empty bottles are loaded manually by the operator into the tube hopper.

The tubes are then automatically forwarded to the filling position in which the tablets are pushed into the tubes.

The filled tubes on the tablet table are then guided into two channels in which the quantity of the tablets is verified.

The verified packed tubes are then automatically taken to be capped.

The uncapped tubes are rejected by the sensors at the PLC controls.

And, by the way, just in case you want to learn more about this pharmacy packing machine, you can review this – Effervescent Tablet Tube Filler: The Ultimate Guide.

4) Syrup Powder Filler

Well, this is yet another must-have pharmacy packaging machine.

You can easily package powders for into bottle for various applications.

If you’re new to this packaging machine in pharmaceutical industry, it looks like this:

Syrup powder filler

Syrup powder filler

What is Syrup Powder Filler?

Syrup powder filler is used to fill various shapes and types of bottles with talcum, spices powder, pulses, and granules.

It can as well be used to fill grains in the specified bottles.

The device can fill up to 80 bottles within a minute, depending on the volume of the powder to be filled.

The rate of filling the bottles also depends on the type of powder as well as the diameter of the bottle.

The filler machine is a polished stainless steel, having large ss cladding duty frame structures.

All other parts of the filler coming in contact with the syrup powder are designed out of ss316 materials and HDPE funnels.

For the filler to obtain higher accuracy as well as speed, it operates on a proven time verified vacuum. It as well works on air systems while filling the powder.

Some fillers have a unique neck holding of the bottle as well as bottle lifting, thus reducing powder spillage.

These features also make the bottles clean, besides reduced powder wastage as a result of reduced powder spillage on the bottle shoulder.

Functions of Syrup Powder Filler

The syrup filler machine exists in various forms, and this makes the machine to have different uses.

Let us have a look at some of the functions syrup powder filler.

  • The primary function of the syrup powder filler machine is to fill the syrup powder into the ampoules bottles. It is mostly used in the pharmaceutical industry as it ensures strict parameter of cleanliness, thus avoiding contamination.
  • The filler machine is also used in sealing of the filled ampoule bottles with the help of SS conveyor belt.
  • Also, the syrup powder machine is used as a washing machine.
  • It also helps in the mixing of the syrup, and labeling of the already filled bottles.

It is necessary to mention that the syrup powder filler can as well be used in other industries like:

  • Food industry
  • Farming industry
  • For personal care
  • House care

However, this guide dwells primarily on the relevance of this machine in pharmaceutical packaging.

Types of Syrup Powder Filler

Various industries design syrup powder filler machines in multiple ways according to the demand of the customers.

It, therefore, makes the machine existing in various types with distinctive features.

Let us look at some of the types of the filler machine.

Syrup Auger Filling Machine

The auger filling machine is self- supported with steeled legs in addition to adjustable height system.

Its operation is based on the auger filling principle.

The machine is designed using the sturdy welded MS frame that is cladded fully in the SS sheet as well as doors.

This design facilitates the servicing of the machine and also makes it more accurate in its working.

The filler is also equipped with conical SS hopper together with the servo-driven augur.

Moreover, it has a low-speed stirrer and the SS slat chain conveyor.

The no filling besides the no container features make the filler prevent spillage during filling.

GZF Syrup Powder Filler

The GZF series filler is a common machine in the health care and pharmaceutical industries.

The machine can be used solely or also as an amalgam with other machines to form a full line depending on the company.

Its parts that are in contact with the powder are made using high-quality stainless steel.

The machine consists of the photoelectric sensors, conveyor, and electrical box, in addition to the primary machine.

Its operation is controlled by the use of a PLC controller system.

The actuating motor for higher accuracy controls the screw auger.

The touch screen as well used in adjusting the filling volume.

§ Rotary Monoblock Syrup Powder Filler

The filler is most suited for glass, LDPE and plastic bottles.

It can fill up to 100 bottles within a minute, depending on the diameter of the bottle.

Also, the rate also depends on the type of syrup, the volume of the powder to be filled as well as the neck of the bottle.

The parts of the filler coming in contact to the powder are made from HDPE Funnels and SS316 materials.

Parts of the Syrup Powder Filler

The operation of the filler is based on the joint operation of its components.

Let us have a look of some of the essential parts of the filler.

Material hopper

Material hopper

  • The filler is made up of no filling –no container system that prevents wastage of the powder.
  • Conveyor belt – prevents the jamming of association as a result of powder spillage.
  • Variable AC frequency drive- controls the speed of the conveyor.
  • Funnel equipped with the unique vibratory system- used for filling the syrup powder with low viscosity at a faster speed.

Filling station

Filling station

  • Star wheel system- allows the infeed and exit of bottles to be filled.
  • Blower-extracts dust

Working Principle of Syrup Powder Filler Machine

The operation of the filler is based on the type of the machine used as well as the urgency of the work.

The infeed turntable is fed with well cleaned dry bottles.

Powder filling station

Powder filling station

The bottles are then supplied to the flat conveyor belt at the needed speed.

This is done using a suitable guide.

Next, the filling head is mounted on the machine top plate in a similar line.

The bottle sensors sense the bottles immediately they arrive at the mechanical holder at the filling station.

After that, the magnetic clutch mounted on the auger shaft begins to rotate.

The desired amount of the syrup powder is filled into the bottles via the auger where the time of rotation was prior determined.

The already filled bottles then go upward by the aid of the SS conveyor belt for sealing.

5) Cartoning Machine in Pharmaceutical Industry

Cartoning equipment is yet another important pharmacy packing machine.

Obviously, you have seen most drugs or pharmaceutical products coming in various cartons or boxes.

For a successful pharmaceutical packaging process, you need a machine that will automatically put your products in cartons or boxes.

Summary of cartoning process

Summary of cartoning process

What is a Cartoning Machine?

Simply put, it is a machine that packages inventories into cartons.

For the pharmaceutical industry, therefore, a cartoning machine is used for packaging pharmaceutical products into cartons.

Packaging products in boxes

Packaging products in boxes

Once fed with the cartons, the machine shapes each piece into an upright position.

It then inserts products into it through the opening and closes the package.

Functions of the Cartoning Machine in Pharmaceutical Packaging

As I have mentioned before, a cartoning machine’s main function is to package products into cartons.

The functioning is influenced by the design and purpose, which we shall discuss later.

So why exactly is this cartoning machine important in the pharmaceutical industry?

Cartoning machine

Cartoning machine

I believe everyone has used medicine and other pharmaceutical products at some point in their lives.

It could be a medical tool or drug in a bottle, capsules, blisters, vials or sachets.

A cartooning machine was undoubtedly behind its beautiful packaging.

Apart from the pharmaceutical industry, it also comes in handy in the food and beverage industry.

The revolution that the cartooning machine has brought is remarkable, as it has several benefits.

For example, it ensures that the product is safely stored before use and even during transportation to consumers.

The cartoning machine saves time as it makes packaging much faster than when done manually.

It is used for packing a wide range of products.

Most importantly, it ensures the product is tamper proof.

Pharmaceuticals are very sensitive, and any alteration can be disastrous to the consumer’s health.

Classification of Cartoning Machines for Pharmaceutical Packaging

I’m now going to take you through the different types of cartoning machines.

After all, of what benefit would it be to you if you buy a machine that doesn’t suit your needs?

Cartoning machines are classified according to the level of automation and how the product gets into the carton.

Since we already covered the level of automation at the beginning of this chapter, we shall skip it here.

Now let us understand more about product into carton.

Product into carton refers to how the product is introduced into the carton.

This leads us to the two types under this category, which are vertical and horizontal cartoning machines.

Horizontal Cartoner Pharmaceutical Packaging Machine

Very ideal for high demand packaging of products with a stable base.

We will not look deeply into horizontal cartoning machines, as they are mostly used in the food industry.

Horizontal cartoning machine

 Horizontal cartoning machine

Vertical Cartoner for Pharmaceutical Packaging

Very popular in the pharmaceutical industry as it works best with bottles, vials and jars.

Vertical cartoning machine

Vertical cartoning machine

The product is introduced vertically into the carton from the in-feeding system, and it’s very popular because of its flexibility.

Parts of a Cartoning Machine for Pharmaceutical Packaging

A cartoning machine comprises of several tiny parts that we will not discuss.

However, I only want to focus on the main components to help you choose the best.

After understanding the parts, you’ll be able to smoothly relate with the working principles that I’ll discuss in the next section.

The machine is made up of several assembled elements, which includes electrical, mechanical, light, and pneumatic components.

Let us briefly look at the major components.

• Control Panel/Segment

The control panel is very vital in a cartoning machine and is essentially the brain of the machine.

The Human Machine Interface (HMI) makes it easy for the operator to control the process.

It also creates an alert in case of a breakdown.

Control mechanism

Control mechanism

Gearing System

The gearing system, comprising of the electrical circuit and mechanical system, is the heart of the machine.

If you’ve ever seen a cartoning machine at work, then you’ve probably seen several motions and movements.

All this is courtesy of the electric motors in the gearing system.

Section of gear system for moving bottles

Section of gear system for moving bottles

Automatic Lubrication System

The cartoning machine is an electromechanical device.

As you know, every mechanical device needs regular lubrication to lengthen its lifespan.

High temperatures, humidity and moisture are not friendly to gears, bearings as well as belts.

Carton Pack Tooling & Pneumatic System

This is where the actual cartoning takes place.

Empty cartons are drawn through vacuum suction by the pneumatic system.

The cartons are placed in the carton storeroom, while the press device issues signal in case of a hiccup during suctioning.

Carton holding unit

Carton holding unit

An ink-jet Printer

An ink-jet printer installed in a cartoning machine offers the provision of relaying important information to the consumers.

The inventory should have useful information like the product description, date of manufacturing, expiry date.

A safety System

You should faithfully adhere to the instructions that come with the machine, to avoid any hazardous outcomes.

Emergency buttons, as well as proper earthing /grounding of the electrical circuit, constitute the machine’s safety system.

The parts that we’ve looked at are just but a few.

Conveyors, guide rail, carton chute and rollers, are also quite important since it involves a lot of movement between stages.

Working Principle of Cartoning Pharmaceutical Packaging Machine

There are approximately four clear stages involved in the cartoning process.

We want to briefly discuss these to get a clear picture of how cartoning machine works.

The first stage is whereby the guide rail positions a carton straight, then the push plate opens it through a push mechanism.

For proper loading, the pneumatic system places the carton at a right angle.

This happens through vacuum suction, both from the front and back sides.

The second stage loading.

From the name, you can guess what happens here.

The product is gently introduced into the carton, before the chain conveyor moves it over to the folding spot.

At the folding spot, the carton’s ears are the center of interest.

The folding happens simultaneously on both sides of the carton, courtesy of rotary movement.

If you can remember well, I explained earlier on that motors are responsible for every motion in the machine.

At this point, motors that have push plates literally do the folding.

The third step is the closing of the carton’s tongue, referred to as the cover action.

The push plates make the lid to bend and lock, before insertion into the carton.

Finally, the assessment stage closes the process.

This helps in ascertaining whether the machine is accurate in its operations or not.

The bad ones are separated from the good ones.

In case you want to learn more about this packaging machine for pharmaceutical industry, you can read this – Cartoning Machine: The Ultimate Buying Guide.

6) Liquid Filling Packaging Machine in the Pharmaceutical Industry

Not all drugs or pharmaceutical products come in solid form.

Some are in liquid form.

Therefore, you need a reliable pharmaceutical packaging machine that can pack liquids.

Liquid filling machine

Liquid filling machine

Unlike solids or powder, filling liquid is a challenging process.

This is because the machine should attain accurate measurements, besides eliminating possible contamination.

Functions of Liquid Filling Machine

As the name suggests, a liquid filling machine is specifically designed to fill liquids into various containers.

For example, you can use the liquid filling machine to fill liquid products in the following:

  • Bottles
  • Vials
  • Ampoules
  • IV bags

Mostly, the liquid filling machine should:

  • Ensure accurate filling with virtually no wastages
  • Guarantee accuracy during the filling process
  • Help you achieve consistent and reliable fills
  • Guarantee a contamination-free filling

Liquid filling machine

Liquid filling machine

Like other pharmaceutical packaging machines, liquid filling equipment comes as:

  1. Fully automatic liquid filling machine
  2. Semi-automatic liquid filling machine

However, you can classify these machines further as:

  • Light-head liquid filling machine
  • Liquid filling machine for vials, ampoules, bottles, etc.
  • Six head liquid filling machine (the number of heads will depend on the design of the machine)

Parts of Liquid Filling Packaging Machine for Pharmaceutical Industry

Some of the main parts and components of the liquid filling machine include:

  • Sterilization; the machine automatically sterilizes the containers it intends to fill. Depending on the design of the machine, it can use different sterilization procedures.
  • Filling station – liquid filling station will position the container you intend to fill. It will then discharge the accurate amount of liquid you want to fill.
  • Sealing station – at this stage, the liquid filling machine will automatically seal the container.
  • Labeling – depending on the design of the machine, it will put the correct label and batch number on the container.
  • Control system – of course, to achieve these, the machine should have a robust control system. Quite a number of machines use SIEMENS PLC, with touch screen control panel.
  • Conveyor systems – it moves the packaging container from one station to another

Working Principle of Liquid Filling Packaging Machine in the Pharmaceutical Industry

The working principle of a liquid filling packaging machine is simple and straight forward.

You can see it in the video below:

First, quite a number of liquid filling machines feature peristaltic pump and stepper motors.

A combination of the two allows for the accurate and consistent liquid filling process.

Also, the fully automated SEIMENS PLC systems control all operations of the liquid filling machine.

Now, this is how it works.

Step 1: Place Containers You Want to Fill In Place

First, ensure you have containers you want to fill in the right position.

This can be bottles, ampoules, or vials.

Step 2: Pour the Liquid You Want To Fill

Fill the product hopper with the right amount of liquid you want to fill.

Step 3: Start the Machines

Switch on the machine.

The containers you want to fill will move to the right position.

A sensor, which is integrated with the system, will detect the presence of the container you want to fill.

It will then trigger the valve to open the liquid hopper.

A specified amount of liquid will flow into the container.

Basically, most machines feature an auto filling technique.

Step 4: Sealing and Quality Inspection

The liquid filling machine will automatically seal the containers in the next stage,

It will then inspect and eject containers that are not filled to the required level.

Besides, it will reject those without proper caps.

As you can see, depending on your unique application requirements, you can choose from any of the six pharmaceutical packaging machines.

But, what exactly should you consider when buying packaging machine for pharmaceutical industry?

Well, let’s find out:

Considerations when Buying Pharmaceutical Packaging Machinery

Below are some of the critical aspects you should consider when buying pharmaceutical packaging machines:

a) New Pharmaceutical Packaging Technology

It goes without saying that the digital capability of a machine is the first thing to consider when you go shopping.

There are a lot of inventions and innovations in the pharmaceutical industry; focusing on the ease of use and efficiency of the machine.

This ranges from all-access control systems to Human Machine Interface to touch-screen among others.

HMI for pharmaceutical packaging machine

HMI for Pharmaceutical packaging machine

Before deciding to buy a pharmaceutical machine, ensure you do your research thoroughly.

Do not go for an outdated machine that will give you a headache trying to get spare parts if it ever fails.

Technology evolves, and so you should go with the trend for you to compete successfully in the market.

b) Type of Pharmaceutical Packaging Machinery

Why risk losing your money to some little-known brand just because the machinery is cheap?

There is nothing that hurts production as much as low-quality less-efficient equipment.

Go for a model that has been tried and found worth it.

The design of your chosen machine also matters a lot, since it will highly affect your packaging and overall performance.

Be informed prior, and go for the design that best suits your packaging needs.

The type of product that you intend to package also influences your purchase a great deal.

This is because the product determines the type of packaging machinery.

Whether it is capsules, syrup or pharmaceutical equipment, go for what works best for your product.

Different pharmaceutical packaging machines

Different pharmaceutical packaging machine

If you consider yourself inexperienced with regards to machine designs and their specialization, it’s wise to seek an expert opinion.

You can also get recommendations from your professional and business contacts, just to be sure.

c) Production Capacity

Well, we all know that output is the main factor in any production environment.

When buying a pharmaceutical packaging machine, ensure you consider production factors such as:

  • At what speed can your machine run?
  • How much is it able to package at its maximum safest speed?
  • How many hours can it run per day?

It’s vital to get the answer to these questions before you are tempted to buy any machine.

The efficiency and production capacity of your machine greatly determines your general level of production.

It’s also critical to be clear on the intended use of the machine prior, as there are different production scales.

Machines come in both commercial-scale and lab-scale, so you can choose based on your type of production.

If you are buying pharmaceutical machines for research, lab-scale would do you good as compared to commercial-scale.

d) Ease of using Pharmaceutical Packaging Equipment

The ease of use covers everything from operation to cleaning.

If using your chosen machine can be equated to rocket science, then you are making the wrong decision.

HMI for pharmaceutical packaging machineGo for a packaging machine that not only meets your needs but also puts your operators at ease.

It should be easy to operate after training so that no serious production errors are incurred.

You do not want to spend so much time cleaning your machine after every packaging exercise.

This is why it’s essential to go for a machine that is not only easy to clean, but also easy and safe to disconnect.

Aseptic eye drop filling machine

 Aseptic eye drop filling machine

When you buy a machine that gives your operators an easy time, the level of production also increases.

Psychology influences production, which means that any feelings of unease and insecurity can lead your operators into making grievous mistakes.

As you go for highly innovative machinery for the benefit of your production, ensure you also consider the ease of use.

Can you imagine having an expensive machine that adds no value to your business just because it has failed?

If by any chance this happens, the operators should be able to save the situation with ease.

e) Compliance with regulatory standards

There are regulatory standards that govern different sectors.

You should do your research before making a purchase, to know what regulations it should comply with.

Take the new OSHA regulation, for example, where some machines need to be Arc-Flash compliant.

Since information is power, knowing these regulatory standards helps you purchase line with the law.

If you are in the USA, for instance, you should first consider FDA approval before buying a pharmaceutical packaging machine.

Also, whenever you are buying machinery, ensure you go for a brand that is ISO certified.

Furthermore, the machine should be CE, cGMP and ASTM compliant.

Like I mentioned earlier, a pharmaceutical packaging equipment, is an assembly of various parts and components.

Each of these parts must conform to the set standards and regulations.

Quality compliance

Quality compliance

Following regulatory standards also helps you avoid extra costs of having to buy machinery twice because of a simple error.

f) Pharmaceutical Packaging Machine Safety Features

Safety remains central in every production environment, including the packaging process.

We talked of model before, and this is one place where it plays a significant role.

Do not go for a brand that is known for faulty machines or those that are not too safe to use.

The trend that has come with the continuous developments in technology is the provision of Safe Zones.

This ensures that when there is a failure, you can always get a backup or plan B, as it’s commonly known.

A lock-out or tag-out process is quite essential for operational safety, especially if you work in shifts.

This makes it clear to the next shift that a machine is in a state that is not safe for use.

Emergency buttons should be strategically placed on your machine for convenience and safety.

They have to be easily accessible and noticeable, easy to use, and in good condition.

Use Requirement Specification for Pharmaceutical Packaging Machine

Different machines have different requirements for use.

Let’s look at some of the use specifications that come with the different machines that we’ve discussed in this guide.

URS

URS

· Product Properties

The properties of the product to be packaged greatly influences the requirements for the use of the machine.

For instance, some granular products produce dust while others do not.

Ensure your OEM knows the exact type of product to be packaged in advance.

This helps to ensure you get the right instructions on how to handle your machine without causing damage.

·  Environmental Control

In some instances, the OEM specifies that a machine has to be used under specified environmental conditions like the temperature and humidity levels.

As I mentioned before, putting the OEM in light of your type of product makes you get the right machine.

The most crucial factor is to follow the guidelines given, so as not to cause any alterations to the product.

· Type of packaging Material

The type of material used for packaging can be determined by the machine used, and vice versa.

Make sure you follow the instructions on sealing mechanism, assemblies, and temperatures.

If you have a custom-designed machine, send samples of the product as well as packaging material to the OEM.

This will ensure proper calibration of the machine.

· Equipment Speed

Exceeding the recommended speed of your packaging machine can lead to disastrous outcomes.

To ensure the integrity of your packaged product as well as the safety of the operator, sticking to the recommended speed is wise.

High-speed machines cost more, but it all narrows down to how much output you need per packaging session.

Following the use requirement specifications for your pharmaceutical packaging machine can save you a fortune.

The machine will not only serve you to its full potential, but its life will also be lengthened.

Applications of Pharmacy Packaging Machine

Before we conclude, let’s now learn about the different applications of pharmacy packaging machines.

Packaging in pharmaceutical industry

Packaging in pharmaceutical industry

· Capsule packaging

There are different machines for capsule packaging like blister packaging machine.

The machine used is determined by the type and size of the capsules.

Packing of capsules ensures the safety and integrity of the capsules.

· Tablets packaging

Just like capsules, tablets vary in sizes and types.

Strip packing machine and blister packaging machine, for example, are very useful in the packing of tablets.

The tablets are kept safe from alterations and environmental interference.

· Liquid medicine packaging

There are a lot of liquid medicine in the market, and the invention of the liquid filling machine has really helped with this.

Once the liquid product is filled, it is capped and sealed, ready for use.

This avoids spilling and contamination.

· Ampoule packing

Blister packing machine is one of the handy machines when talking of Ampoule packing.

Ampoule packing is essential since it ensures that lab samples or drugs they contain are free from contamination.

· Needle Packing

Needles are very dangerous if carelessly handled.

This is why syringe and needle packing machines are critical in a pharmaceutical environment.

Needle packing machinery is handy at both large scale and small scale levels.

· Vials packing

Just like in Ampoule packing, Blister packing machine is also used for the packing of vials.

This also helps in safely storing away the pharmaceutical product in the vial.

Vials are available for one-time as well as repeated use.

· Cartoning

Cartoning Systems are instrumental during the packaging of bottles, blisters, vials, ampoule, tubes, bottle and dropper.

· Carton Sealing

Carton sealing machines are applicable in the sealing of cartons and boxes of various sizes and shapes.

Conclusion

From what we’ve learned, pharmaceutical packaging is essential.

Whether it is for commercial or research purposes, it is necessary that you go for the right packaging machine.

In brief, we’ve discussed the different requirements for pharmaceutical packaging as well as the functions.

We’ve also gone through the different types of pharmaceutical packaging machines, their use specifications, and applications.

It’s evident from this guide that the right choice of packaging machinery is vital.

By following this guide, you’re sure to make the right choice.