Filling Machines and Equipment for Pharmaceuticals

Filling Machines and Equipment for Pharmaceuticals

Pharmaceutical products, because of their ingredients and their use, can require some special precautions during the packaging process.  Many of these precautions will revolve around filling the product, as the liquid filler is the one machine that will necessarily move and contact the product.  But other areas of the packaging system will likely see changes or modifications as well, mostly to keep the product free of contamination.


More than any industry, with the possible exception of the Food and Beverage Industry, pharmaceuticals will use sanitary filling equipment.  This is no surprise, given that these two industries both provide products that will be ingested, made for human consumption.  Sanitary fittings are used on pharmaceutical filling machines to ensure that the product does not become contaminated while traveling through the machine, down the product pathway and into the bottle or other container.  Sanitary plumbing and fittings provide a smooth surface that discourages product build up, easy cleaning and protection against leaking and outside contamination.  Stainless steel is popular for sanitary filling machines in that it will not rust or corrode with most products, but other options may be used.  
Pharmaceutical fillers will often use a special type or grade of tubing as well.  Some liquid fillers, known as peristaltic pump fillers, provide a quick and easy method for changing out tubing, allowing for different ingredients or products to be run throughout the day without a long, difficult changeover process.  Other filling principles may still be seen with pharma products, however, including overflow, gravity and piston, depending on the product itself.


As noted, while the filling machine will be designed specifically for pharmaceutical products, there are some other features that are fairly common to these packaging systems.  Almost every pharma line will include some type of container cleaning machine.  These machines will use some type of rinse media - air, water or other liquid - to clean the inside of the bottle before product is introduced.  Bottle rinsers and washers will remove dust, debris and other buildup inside the bottle to protect against contaminating the product. Some lines will even use a bottle vacuum in addition to the air rinse to ensure a clean, sanitary container.


Capping machinery for pharmaceutical products will often include familiar types of equipment, including spindle cappers, snap cappers and chuck capping machines.  However, capping machinery for these lines will often include additional components or features.  Many of these products will be sealed using child resistant caps and various tamper proof seals.  Packaging machinery such as induction sealers, neck banders and similar equipment will help achieve a safe, tamper evident seal on bottles and containers.
These are some of the more common features found in filling machines and other equipment for pharmaceuticals, but new technology is sure to lead to new innovations and features on pharmaceutical packaging machines.  For example, smart packaging is an emerging innovation that allows certain types of medications - or the packaging for certain types of medications - to track when the pills are taken, allowing reminders should a patient forget a dose.  Package innovation will undoubtedly lead to packaging machinery manufacturing innovation, which in turn will lead to a safer, healthier, future for everyone.
- Erik Arndt