03/01/2011 | Autor / Editor: Bruno Martin / Jörg Kempf
Complex weighing and dispensing systems are normally an integral part of the pharmaceutical production process. Flat-bed scales create new avenues to the design of simple, space-saving weighing and dispensing systems.
More and more pharmaceutical and food producers are installing scales directly in the process flow to boost efficiency. Integrated weighing solutions which provide connectivity to IT/Track&Trace systems are a particularly attractive option. Software however is not the only issue. There are other, purely practical factors to consider in day-to-day operation. How can you reliably and safely weigh large volumes of material and heavy containers? How do you handle bulky containers in confined spaces? How can you maintain hygiene standards without elaborate and expensive cleaning procedures?
Conventional floor scales often create a mechanical impediment in the production process, and the fact that they are mounted into a pit with the load plate flush with the floor has a number of disadvantages. Sartorius has developed the IF Pharmaline series for users in the pharmaceutical industry. The scales feature FDA-compliant materials, finishes and cleanability and conform to recommendations issued by EHEDG (European Hygienic Engineering Design Group).
Ease of handling despite the demanding hygiene requirements was a major design objective. Compared to other designs, the IF Pharmaline offers a whole range of advantages. It takes about 90 minutes to clean a conventional pit scale including the time it takes to lift off the load plate, clean the pit, scale and plate and then replace the plate. The flat-bed scale can be cleaned in only around 20 minutes. The large platform has a gas-pressurized lift mechanism which provides convenient access for cleaning underneath the platform. The open-frame design also makes cleaning and disinfection easier. Unhygienic corners and gaps, which provide an ideal hiding place for bacteria, are reduced to a minimum. This saves 70 minutes each time the scale is cleaned. If the scale is cleaned 12 times a month, that adds up to 14 hours or two working days a month.
The scale is also more compact than a typical conventional floor scale with a capacity of 600 kg, which takes up about 1.5 x 1.5 meters of space. An additional space of roughly the same size needs to be set aside, because the scale has to be moved to clean the underside as well as the floor below. Ramps are often used to move heavy containers onto the scale. The flat-bed scale can be lifted up and cleaned in place without taking up any more space. The lift mechanism complies with current occupational safety regulations including the international NIOSH Lifting Equation guidelines (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health). Handling time to move the scale is reduced by 75% or more, which can be hugely significant if the scale is used at different locations. Built-in wheels and a steering handle make it easy to reposition the Moveline version with the aid of a lifting system.
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