Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Embrace the future of pharma packaging – gear up for adaptive manufacturing

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The packaging industry is one of the fastest-growing sectors in India, and machine manufacturers are more likely to see growth in their industry. However, if any sector stands out in the vast economic landscape of the world, holding the key to prosperity and development is the pharmaceutical packaging sector. All the success fosters not only on economic development but also the development of ground-breaking ideas and life-saving innovations. However, despite the abundance of opportunities, there are a number of challenges that call for unwavering commitment to technology adaptation.

To overcome these challenges and to convert opportunities, the pharmaceutical packaging industry must utilize machines that are adaptive and ready for unforeseen situations from supply chain, raw materials to manufacturing and much more. In this endeavor, machine builders play a vital role in helping manufacturers with the necessary technology uplift together with meeting the stringent laws and regulations in the sector. Additionally, machine manufacturers are constantly enhancing the designs of their machines to achieve higher quality and productivity, lower maintenance costs, quicker after-sale service by remote connectivity, energy efficiency and faster ROI.

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Adaptivity is essential

To create smart machines, manufacturers of pharmaceutical packaging equipment are already assessing the most recent advances in technology. Shorter time to market and managing unforeseen market demands that are key factors of competitiveness. However, conventional method of machine designing acts as a hurdle in achieving these goals. ‘Adaptive’ means that the machine automatically adjusts to accommodate different products and sets without any mechanical changes as per the user needs.

There are many products used for medical treatments that consist of numerous individual parts. For example, before a catheter or infusion set can be used, it must first be assembled from an array of tubes, valves, and needles. This is an overly complex process that is difficult to automate and needs high precision, especially if you need to produce multiple variants of each set. Another aspect of pharmaceutical packaging is the transportation of the products, which is predominantly via conveyors.

However, conveyors usually work at their speed and transfer systems are designed to match the speeds of previous or successive stations or machines. Thus, the line speed would largely depend on the speed of the slowest machine. This was the usual way of optimization and synchronization. These systems do the job of transportation; however, the machine builder and factory operators miss out on efficiency, complex product handling, smaller batch sizes, quick changeover and higher efforts and costs for line synchronization. Thus, here adaptive machines built with intelligent transport technology system create an edge over the conventional system to overcome all these challenges with ease.

How to attain adaptivity?

B&R enables the adaptive manufacturing ecosystem – building an adaptive machine starts with simulation-based design. See the system in action, test feasibility and visualize its potential, all without any investment in real hardware. The same simulation later serves as proof of concept for performance benchmarking. Over the lifetime of the machine, a digital twin makes it possible to refine and verify processes offline before implementing them on the shop floor.

From mechanical design and controls programming to validation and virtual commissioning, machine and plant builders have discovered many ways that simulation can help minimize development risk. Those benefits multiply if the simulations can easily be adapted and reused in future projects. Today’s plants and machinery take up a lot of space. But only a fraction of their footprint contributes to the production process itself. Far more real estate on the plant floor is dedicated to carrying products from place to place.

Conveyor belts, rotary tables, carousels – there are many ways to move products from one processing station to another. Even so, they all have one thing in common: they do not contribute to the production process itself, instead, they consume valuable floorspace and reduce the overall output per square meter. It is time to break free from old limitations and set the stage for a new era of productivity.

Track systems let you do mass customization in a way that is economically sustainable. New technologies have made production much more flexible, especially track systems like SuperTrak and ACOPOStrak. They can move each product independently and can also serve as a motion control axis at processing stations. Not only that, but they allow product flows to divide and merge at full speed and Thus productivity is no longer throttled to the speed of the slowest processing station.

Additionally, another product transport system leveraging a multidimensional manufacturing space based on magnetic levitation, where each product moves independently from station to station without being bound to a rigid, sequential production flow. ACOPOS 6D now heralds a transition from strictly linear production to an open, adaptive manufacturing space. With ACOPOS 6D, one machine can simultaneously manufacture different product variants or even entirely different products. Each product navigates its own path to the stations for small-batch production with possibilities of frequent changeover between products of different designs and dimensions.

The editorial team of The Packman who handle all the press releases with Sunil Jain working as the desk editor.

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