Multi-stage operation automated in a clean room environment offers greater efficiency and safety
In the pharma and medical industries, cleanliness is of the utmost importance to the production process, but doing it right takes time. It also takes high standards. That’s what one of our customers was looking for when automating the washing and preparation of plastic cartridges, vials, and tubes for highly sensitive downstream operations.
The automation had to perform the washing and coating operations flawlessly while offering a high degree of part-to-part consistency that meets the expectations the industry requires. The system also needed to perform these operations in a clean room environment, and at a rapid pace.
To meet the requirements of the process, as described by the customer, Midwest Engineered Systems developed a unique automation cell that integrates several processes required to prepare these cartridges and vials for use in lab environments. More specifically, the cell works through five distinct and important processes.
The first step in the washing and pretreating process is cleaning the vials and tubes. This is done with a number of pressurized water jets designed to wash the entire surface of the item. The cleaning is broken into an exterior and interior steps. After the heated water washes the surfaces, the parts are sent through a drying process of pressurized air to dry the part’s exteriors. A third process takes care of drying the interior of the parts with moveable air jets.
The parts are then moved to the pretreatment process that sprays a proprietary solution to completely coat their surfaces. After the coating process, the parts are subjected to curing. The outer surfaces and the interior are cured at the same time. Both of these operations are controlled through a closed loop system that precisely manages the process.
All of these stages happen inside a clean room grade enclosure featuring positive pressurization to keep every step as safe as possible and free of contamination. The enclosure is built into the rugged automation cell frame that also encompasses all of the systems the automation cell needs to operate. This makes for a compact footprint that’s easier to install in an already crowded facility.
Benefit to the Customer
Looking at how the automation system performed, the cycle time of the washing and pretreatment operations were reduced to approximately 12 seconds. Ten seconds of the process time is from the processing of the vials and tubes – that includes the drying time, the heating of the coating and cooling before transfer from the system.
Factoring in the system is designed to process 2 parts at a time at each station, this effectively makes the cycle time approximately 10 processed parts per minute. All of this without relying on human intervention while meeting clean room classification 100,000.
The summation of the automated processes provided the customer with a safe and reliable cell that can handle the demands required of highly regulated pharmaceutical and medical industries, without sacrificing the speeds necessary to increase production throughput.
Contact us to learn about how Midwest Engineered Systems can automate even your most complex and challenging operations today.