The cost of pharmaceutical creams and ointments mean significant savings can result from production efficiencies. With small batch production the proportion of material left in process pipework at changeover can be significant. Savings originate not only from the recovery of good saleable product but also on minimising disposal costs. Pharmaceutical products in particular having notable liabilities associated with the safe disposal of active material. GSK contacted Martec to determine the possibility of using product recovery at their Barnard Castle facility.
Even a short run of pipework can offer a rapid return on investment for high value product. The bulk dispensing drum next to the packing line has a run of only 4 metres, consisting of 2”dairy pipe and two sections of flexible hose. An added complication with pharmaceutical products is that all material coming into contact with the product must not react with it. In particular GSK had a requirement that all polymer materials (for instance for seals etc.) must be white.
Martec designed, manufactured and supplied GSK with a 2” Automatic Product Recovery System, consisting of the patented design Marplug™, Launch and Receive Stations complete with bespoke design of inlet Tee and a Semi-Automatic control system.
The vanes of the Marplug™ were able to traverse the flexible hose and couplings without loss of cleaning action in wiping the internal surfaces.
The standard Viton™ material of the Marplug™ used for chemically inert applications met the material specification with the exception of colour. An extension to the range of Marplug™ was commissioned. Martec now offer a white colour FDA compliant fluoroelastomer Marplug™ for Pharmaceutical applications.
Return on investment calculations gave a payback period of four to eight months for the initial filing line on which the first system was installed. Extension of the technology to further lines is being followed through.
GSK have gained manufacturing flexibility during changeover for batch production with virtually 100% recovery of product through traversed pipework.