The Elements of an Effective Solid-Dosage Metal Detection Program - Pharmaceutical Technology

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The Elements of an Effective Solid-Dosage Metal Detection Program
The author discusses new detection-system technologies that can improve performance and provides key criteria to consider when selecting or upgrading a system for pharmaceutical use.

Pharmaceutical Technology
Volume 34, pp. S22-S25

Selecting a detection system

Table I: Typical detectable metal diameter versus metal detector's aperture size.
There are many criteria to consider when evaluating metal-detection systems for tablet and capsule processing. Perhaps the most important is the system's sensitivity (i.e., how small a metal fragment can be detected [the typical range for pharmaceutical applications is less than 0.5 mm]) and how immune the system is to outside influences such as vibration and electromagnetic noise, which can cause false rejects (see Table I). When selecting the size of the system's aperture, one should consider performance as well as throughput and size to avoid product jams during production.

Sensitivity. One subtle, but important, factor to consider when evaluating different systems is what, if any, effect a product might have on the metal detector. Most tablets and capsules look like "dry" products to the metal detector, but it is possible that they may trigger a false reject if they contain significant concentrations of metal elements such as iron. If a false reject continually occurs, the detector's operating threshold can be desensitized, but this change may reduce the system's performance. Before selecting a system, therefore, it is important to test the complete system on all of the pharmaceutical products that may be used to determine how the system will perform in a production setting.

Table II: Key criteria for selecting a pharmaceutical metal detection system.
Once it is determined that a system can detect the smallest fragments of metal possible with no chance of false rejection, there are other aspects of the system to consider to ensure that it can be successfully used in a particular production process. Table II provides a list of key questions to ask when evaluating a system.


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