When confronted with a complex requirement profile for their liquid bottling, leading contract manufacturer Müggenburg Pharma turned to Flexicon from Watson-Marlow Fluid Technology Solutions (WMFTS)
The modular design of Flexicon peristaltic filling and capping systems allowed for the rapid design of a production line that was tailored to the needs of Müggenburg Pharma. This solution has significantly increased production capacity and flexibility for Müggenburg Pharma, which currently processes around 500 bottles per hour.
Müggenburg Pharma offers pharmaceutical, food and cosmetic companies expertise in the commercial processing of natural highly controlled raw materials from initial idea and recipe development, through to the control of raw and end product.
"Our goal is to offer our customers the shortest possible lead time and time-to-market," said Christopher Eggerstedt, Head of Product Development and Liquid Production at Müggenburg Pharma.
Complex processing requirements
Valuable food supplements made from plant-based raw materials are often produced according to stringent specifications that are similar to medicinal products. This was the case when a customer contacted Müggenburg Pharma with a product idea for a new, innovative supplement.
For maximum purity, the basic ingredient of the product is produced using a special, gentle extraction method. Therefore, further processing and filling must be as gentle as possible.
"The raw materials are very valuable and precise dosing is essential for consistent product quality," said Christopher Eggerstedt.
To ensure maximum purity, basic ingredients must be produced, extracted and processed as gently as possible. As new food supplement products are often taken in small quantities, they are filled in small glass bottles that must be securely capped with pipette caps. All these requirements must be met within the quick production promised to customers.
Flexicon filling solutions
In search of a flexible filling and capping line with multiple, individually controlled dosing points, Müggenburg Pharma turned to Flexicon.
Flexicon offers a wide range of peristaltic filling and capping systems, from standalone units for manual filling through to semi and fully automated filling systems, all with a strong focus on high flexibility and versatility.
Flexicon peristaltic systems offer rapid changeover between products, batches or formats. Owing to its modular design, Flexicon filling systems can be easily combined into complex processing lines and customised to specific fill/finish needs like multiple dosing points.
"Flexicon's products can be used in any application where high quality, valuable liquids need to be filled safely, without contamination, and with maximum precision in small and medium-sized batches," said Denis Cwiklinski, Biopharm Sales Engineer at WMFTS.
Integrated filling and capping for optimal precision
Considering Müggenburg Pharma’s requirements, Denis Cwiklinski recommended a filling solution that combined two different Flexicon semi-automated systems into one filling line.
The bottles are loaded on to the turntable of a Flexfeed 15 semiautomatic container feeding system which positions them accurately for the filling of the first liquid component by a PF7 dispenser.
The part-filled bottles are then ejected on to the larger Flexfeed 30 container feeding and cap tightening system. This presents them to a second PF7 for dispensing the second liquid component and subsequent tightening of caps that are placed by hand.
The proportion of first and second fills varies greatly and must be dispensed within a hundredth of a millilitre. The capping head tightens pipette caps or customised caps with a constant torque to reliably prevent leaks or spillage. Finally, the bottles are collected in a discharge tray.
Increased capacity, flexibility, and retention of valuable products
With the newly designed filling and capping line, Müggenburg Pharma currently processes around 500 bottles per hour — a significant increase from previous rates.
Expensive product loss owing to shearing forces or temperature deviations is minimised by the gentle and reliable delivery of the PF7.
The hygienic design, flexibility of components and simple calibration procedures allow rapid cleaning and batch changes.
This flexibility means other bottle and cap sizes can be processed in the future with very few changes, allowing fast and flexible adaptation to customer requirements.
After only 3 months for process development, validation and qualification, Müggenburg Pharma started production on the new processing line. Since then, it has been filling up to 5000 bottles per day with consistently high reliability and minimal product loss.
Sampling in line with GMP-regulations by an independent third party has confirmed a filling precision of significantly better than 0.5%. Calibration proved to be easy and reliable with usually the third bottle of a batch fulfilling the specified parameters.
"The concept has been so successful that we are already planning an increase in capacity with a second filling line together with Flexicon," concluded Christopher Eggerstedt.