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PharmTech's monthly newsletter, Equipment & Processing Report, reviews the Editor's Picks for the December 2008 edition from Spiroflow Systems and Sepha.
Hygienic conveyors provide versatility
The “Flexible Screw Conveyors” from Spiroflow Systems (Monroe, NC) contain a motor-driven spiral that rotates within a sealed tube to move material efficiently and gently. The machines provide constant remixing without causing segregation. The spiral is the units’ only moving part, and this simple design enables quick disassembly and easy maintenance.
The conveyors reduce the potential for contamination in several ways. For example, the devices do not incorporate bearings and seals, unlike rigid screw conveyors. In addition, the totally sealed conveying system does not use air as the conveying medium and therefore does not require a filtration system.
Users can route the flexible conveyors around obstacles such as stanchions. The device also can be mounted on a mobile frame for use in various locations within a facility. Operators can clean the conveyors using dry, wet, or clean-in-place methods. The devices are suitable for raw-material and excipient applications.
Scanning system performs nondestructive leak testing
The new “BlisterScan” from Sepha (Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK) uses pressure, vacuum, and a precision laser system to check for leaks in blister packaging. The device finds leaks as small as 7 µm. Unlike the blue-dye test, the BlisterScan product uses a noncontact, nondestructive method. Operators can retrieve tested products from faulty packs and repackage them. Good packages can be placed back on the production line.
The machine is operated with touchscreen controls and does not require skilled users. After a test cycle of 1–6 min, the device displays results for each package graphically and indicates which cavities had leaks. Product changeover can be achieved in less than 30 s.
The BlisterScan tester stores test results in its blister-format library or on a separate device. The unit is available with a full 21 CFR Part 11 validation package.