In the Spotlight November 2009

Editors' Picks of Pharmaceutical Science & Technology Innovations
Nov 02, 2009
By Pharmaceutical Technology Editors
Volume 33, Issue 11

Pharmaceutical ingredients, manufacturing equipment, and regular maintenance contribute to the industry's high capital costs. Drugmakers' tolerance for wasted time and materials has decreased as the pressures on the marketplace have grown. Automation and computer systems can improve process speed and reduce errors and waste. This month's products are designed to aid operations at various levels within a pharmaceutical company. A new system from Astech helps ensure the quality of prefilled syringes. A robotic packaging cell from QComp can ease product changeover. Software developed by WAM and ORTEMS automatically creates production schedules and facilitates supply-chain planning.

Syringe-testing system offers high throughput

Syringe-Pro system Astech Projects
Astech Projects (Runcorn, England) has introduced its Syringe-Pro fully automated solution for prefilled-syringe sample preparation and testing. Software enables the system to perform functions such as sample preparation and analysis simultaneously, thereby enabling greater throughput than conventional automated systems achieve.

The Syringe-Pro system's modular software solution is designed to run test methods specific to users' requirements. Operators load the system with a batch of prefilled syringes and select the required test protocol for each syringe through the user interface. The system aspirates samples from their glass vessels and injects them directly into a high-performance liquid chromatography instrument, thus reducing manual handling and increasing throughput.

To ensure sterility, the Syringe-Pro system is fully enclosed, and environmental control or extraction features can be incorporated into the unit. The system minimizes operator hazards compared with manual testing.

Robotic packager brings flexibility

Solo Packer Cell QComp Technologies
The Solo Packer Cell from QComp Technologies (Greenville, WI) is designed to offer production flexibility. Users can select a program from a touchscreen interface to change products. The cell also can receive signals about product changeover from upstream devices. A standalone programmable logic control (PLC) stores product specifications in memory and interfaces with up- and downstream equipment easily.

The PLC directs the robot's motion and contributes to its 0.5-mm position repeatability. A safe-move function tightens the robot's range of motion, which reduces the cell's footprint.

Software merges scheduling and planning

Advanced Planning System WAM Systems
WAM Systems (Plymouth Meeting, PA) and ORTEMS (Lyon, France) have integrated their supply-chain planning solutions for the pharmaceutical industry to create the Advanced Planning System (APS). Because the software is targeted to the industry, it is easier to configure and support and takes less time to implement than nonspecific planning solutions.

After users enter variables such as sales history, current inventories, capacity, and capabilities, the APS's algorithms automatically create a production schedule at each plant and at all manufacturing stages. The schedules are downloaded into manufacturing execution systems (MESs) for implementation, and the MESs send updates to the APS about whether work orders are being executed promptly.

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