Mucon was asked to visit a large multi-national pharmaceutical company in the North East of England to ascertain whether they could resolve their intermittent ‘Bridging’ / ‘Rat-Holing’ issues within their stainless steel cones using the Mucon Promoflow range of discharge aids.
This pharmaceutical organization has several small asymmetrical and symmetrical stainless steel cones, which on occasion experience intermittent bridging issues when processing powders. To resolve this issue production staff has been known to bang the sides of the cones in an attempt to keep the flow of powders moving. Unfortunately, banging the cones only served to damage the cones and to further consolidate material inside the cones, therefore making it even more difficult for the powders to flow. Banging on the cones not only resulted in lost productivity but also tied up engineering resources, which could have been better utilized elsewhere in the plant.
Stainless steel cone with hammer damage
Mucon staff visited the manufacturing site and measured the cones and also took note of the material being handled, such as bulk density, particle size etc.
The pharmaceutical organization was also keen to mention that the stainless steel cones were steam cleaned with purified water and then either oven or vacuum dried.
Mucon engineers were informed that as the cones were located in a clean environment that any pneumatically operated device must not use a lubricated air supply so that hygiene levels could be maintained.
The customer’s engineers also specified that they did not want a discharge aid with any internal fixings to ensure that nothing could work loose over time and damage other equipment in the manufacturing process, such as a tableting press.
The customer’s demands were very specific in that any equipment chosen must satisfy the following criteria:
- Their cleaning regime – steam cleaning of the cones using purified water.
- No material hang up
- Easy to clean and maintain
- Discharge aid to function using only a non-lubricated air supply
- No fixings on the inside of the vessel
- Manual control mechanism was requested for operators to easily utilize.
Once the customer’s needs were identified and confirmed, Mucon set about designing a system that would adhere to their customer’s wishes.
- It was decided to supply ‘Rib Cage’ screens in 316L mirror polished stainless steel. To meet with the customer’s cleaning requirements and minimize product hang up.
- Control of the discharge aid was important. A variety of options were on offer, but in the end, the end user preferred a manual toggle switch instead of automatic actuation.
- Mounting of the Mini-Promoflow was on the outside of the cone to ensure that nothing could work itself loose and ensure easy access for cleaning and maintenance if required.
Rib Cage Screen fitted internally to the stainless steel cone
The end user decided to send one of their stainless steel cones to Mucon to have the Mini-Promoflow installed and then sent back to them so that they could undertake an initial trial to see how effective the equipment was. The customer was very methodical and cautious in their testing of the Mini-Promoflow. Consequently after several months of testing the Mucon Mini-Promoflow, the end user was so delighted with their findings that they decided to order several more discharge aids to solve bridging issues elsewhere in their plant.
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