In the Spotlight July 2009

Published on: 
Pharmaceutical Technology, Pharmaceutical Technology-07-02-2009, Volume 33, Issue 7

Editors' Picks of Pharmaceutical Science & Technology Innovations

Each step of the pharmaceutical manufacturing process must be carried out precisely. To ensure that operations run smoothly, supervisors need access to data from each unit operation. This month's featured products are designed to assist operators with specific tasks and with the production process as a whole. Bullard's air-purifying respirator automatically maintains constant airflow. A user interface from Performix helps manufacturing personnel focus on the task at hand. Balluff's level sensors ignore foam and film to provide accurate measurements of liquid product.

User interface enhances control software

Performix (Houston) introduced the Next Generation User Interface (UI) for its proprietary manufacturing execution system (MES). The UI was designed to present the operator with the data relevant to the task at hand and clarify the steps the operator must take to complete the task, says Sham Afzalpurkar, president and CEO of Performix. The interface incorporates rich Internet application technology that enables operators to create user-friendly dashboards.

Next Generation User Interface Performix

In addition, the UI allows the MES to connect to software such as laboratory and enterprise information systems. The connectivity gives operators real-time validation of material in the factory and provides the enterprise level with the manufacturing information needed for business decisions.

The UI allows operators to request trend analysis for particular parameters in previous batches. The product also allows workflows to continue when an event occurs on the plant floor and lets operators initiate maintenance orders.

Respirator maintains constant airflow

The Evolutionary Air (EVA) powered air-purifying respirator from Bullard (Cynthiana, KY) incorporates the company's Active Flow Technology that automatically maintains constant airflow. The unit's quiet, brushless motor has a lifespan of about 10,000 h, according to Jeanette Gaunce, product specialist for Bullard's respiratory line. A two-speed blower allows the user to choose more or less cooling and airflow.

Evolutionary Air respirator Bullard

An operator can check the status of the battery charge by pushing a button to display fuel gauge. The EVA sounds an alarm when the battery power is low and rings a second alarm when airflow is low.

Liquid-level sensors provide accurate measurements

Unlike other liquid-level sensors, Balluff's (Florence, KY) SMARTLevel products evaluate capacitance and electrical potential in their fields of vision. Film or foam do not cause the SMARTLevel sensors to false trigger because the sensors see no change in electrical potential. This technology enables the units to provide accurate measurements without requiring frequent readjustment, says Bjoern Schaefer, product specialist at Balluff.

SMARTLevel sensor Balluff

This design enables the sensors to be used in noninvasive point-level detection applications such as glass vials or bypass tubes without adjustment. When the SMARTLevel sensors perform invasive measurements, their ability to evaluate electrical potential enables them to measure despite material that builds up on the sensors' faces, says Schaefer.