Dosing powder - accurate to the gram, precise and safe
For our English-speaking website visitors, we have translated the original article in the trade publication PharmaTEC, written by deputy editor-in-chief Anke Geipel-Kern:
Dosing bulk goods is a complex task: the powders pack, form bridges, they can be hygroscopic. They stick together, they are heterogeneous or abrasive. Dosing powder means meeting many challenges to fill the material to the gram, accurately and safely. This already starts with the insight that powder is not simply powder, that it has various properties – such as dust generating, sticky, sluggish – and therefore different behaviors. But even the same powder can behave differently in its volume according to the environmental conditions, e.g. in the event of temperature fluctuations.
Due to their nature, bulk goods are often «poured» in various containers during processing. This process is daily routine in the pharmaceutical, food and chemical industries. So, bulk goods are filled in mobile containers such as drums or small casks for further processing or transport. For the filling operation, the target containers are docked with a fixed dosing unit. Then the dosing element – a kind of hopper – opens to fill the target container.
Solving the problem of this problematic process
Up to now, dosing bulk goods created problems to many pharmaceutical, food and chemical factories: filling may be interrupted, product particles escape here and there, products are damaged now and then and yet regularly, the filling of powders may lead to wrong results. This is annoying for the company, as touching up repeatedly the dosing results requires much additional work. The fact that until now there was no suitable optimization solution on the market also contributed to dissatisfaction.
Müller Processing addressed this problematic process and offers newly a gravimetric dosing system that ensures the consistent quality of the dosing process and offers real improvements to the customers. The dosing system is ideally suited for gentle, segregation-free, very accurate filling and supplying of bulk goods. The lightweight system parts can be easily mounted and dismounted in the shortest time in a few steps – optionally with quick-release technology – by one single person, without much effort.
The heart of the dosing system benefits from the long-lasting expertise and the innovative spirit of Lobotech Engineering AG from Ormalingen (Switzerland), one of the pioneer companies in the dosing technology. This company, with its key personnel, was taken over in 2018 by Müller Processing in Rheinfelden (Germany). Since then, it improved the dosing system, which was seamlessly integrated in Müller Processing's portfolio.
A comprehensive portfolio for optimal interface management
Müller Processing plans, designs and produces in Rheinfelden (Germany) stainless steel containers, system components, mobile and stationary handling equipment and containment solutions, which can be combined with each other in multiple ways. Standardized units thus become tailor-made complete systems. The solution-oriented design, combined with automated series production and traditional craftsmanship guarantees stainless steel processing with highest precision.
The Company develops suitable customer solutions for customized interfaces between containers and handling systems. For this purpose, it uses lidded and tight-head drums, double-walled containers, bottles, round and rectangular containers (IBCs) with a content of up to 3,000 liters together with lifting, inverting and swiveling columns. Various user-friendly solutions are available for the important transition points between containers and machines, depending on the containment requirements.
And this wide-ranging portfolio, now expanded with the dosing systems, helps customers to optimize their production processes in a targeted way, explains Benjamin Asal, Product Manager Dispensing at Müller Processing: «Our dosing system works safely and efficiently together with our well-proven blenders, lifting columns, MCV valves and containers. Single processes thus become global sequences that can be controlled and monitored as such.»
MDS-L highly accurate, safe, no problem with regard to occupational safety
Müller Processing has given the name MDS-L to this dosing solution. «It means Müller Dosing System Large» continues Benjamin Asal. «Our systems allow formulating, charging, dosing and filling bulk goods in the gram range up to larger charges in the kilogram range with highest precision.»
The MDS-L can, in its containment variant, also be designed for the OEB level 5, in order to prevent cross contaminations and the contamination of the operating staff and of the environment. So, the full-protection suit can confidently be left away. The system is also fully safe with regard to occupational safety, as it includes no moving parts that might cause injuries.
Optimized mounting and cleaning times – minimized downtimes
The dosing unit with its dosing element is the heart of the system. The dosing element out of silicone is FDA-compliant, meets the EX requirements, is corrosion-resistant and maintenance-free. It is versatile, highly accurate and handles the products with extreme care. The patented technique cannot be compared with conventional pinch valves, which pinch off or even damage the product. The system uses a closing cylinder with two sealing lips, which make sure when filling that the quality of the product is not affected.
The dosing element convinces with its simple construction, without moving parts, seals and bearings. Replacement is quick and cleaning is easy, with a direct positive effect on the operating costs. Single-use inliners are used for toxic bulk goods. They can easily be put in place and removed, protecting the dosing element and thus its service life.
Müller Processing's dosing technique is suitable for almost all powders, granulates and tablets, sluggish, hygroscopic, sticky, spherical, abrasive, shooting through, light, heavy and/or toxic. There are still many products that cannot be dosed with existing dosing systems. With its innovative dosing element, the MDS-L concretely provides a remedy. «We handle every powder” declares Benjamin Asal. «We offer the customers the dosing solution they have been looking for without success for years.»
A well-monitored and constantly controlled dosing process – as well as the downstream and upstream processes
The dosing system is supplied with a modern control panel and sophisticated software for safe and efficient operation. This control panel represents virtually the system and the processes. It leads intuitively the operating personnel through the dosing process. The system provides information whether the system is ready, whether upstream processes (e. g. container placed on lifting column and locked) are completed and whether downstream processes (e. g. open MCV valve) can be released. Besides operating and process status, it also provides maintenance information (e. g. filter replacement required or maintenance interval reached).
In conjunction with the AVOR, previously saved recipes can easily be called and orders, as well as batches, can be processed efficiently.
If the dosing system MDS-L is operated together with other Müller Processing components – e. g. with lifting columns, MCV valves, solutions for supply to and removal from the dosing system, etc. – these facilities and processes are also displayed on the control panel. This way, interfaces can be optimally matched to each other and the «all from one source» idea, so often quoted in process technology, can be implemented concretely. The efficient interaction of the components from the Müller Processing portfolio generates immediate customer benefits.
Meeting the future challenges together
By investing in a Müller Processing dosing system, the customers enter into a safe relationship. The customer benefit is of utmost importance to this dynamic company based in Rheinfelden (Germany). So, the training actions during commissioning are explicitly aimed at the customer needs, also including e. g. the first setting of the dosing parameters.
Müller Processing belongs to the family-run Müller Group, whose roots go back 120 years. Its corporate history is marked by high customer-orientation, well-considered portfolio expansion and consistent further development of products and customer solutions, in order to keep them always at the cutting edge of technology. Customers can thus be sure to make their investments with a strong, independent partner, whose major concern are long-term partnerships and the future sustainability of its own products and customer solutions.