Mechanical Process Technology
Like a long, quiet River
This involves, for example, coping with the fact that particle sizes are becoming increasingly finer and therefore increasingly finer distributions are also required. “For example, we’re certainly having to deal now with sizes in the nano range. Some mechanical processes are also now increasingly combined with thermal processing, which creates new challenges from the point of view of the equipment,” adds Lemperle.
Other changes that affect the equipment have arisen according to Lemperle as a result of adopting the Atex Directive 94/9/EC in 2003. “Of course mechanical equipment was configured, constructed and supplied safely before then, but today there’s a different perspective on how the layout is regarded,” says Lemperle of the developments in safety technology.
Some new developments have also come about through industry-specific initiatives, such as the increasing use of continuous processes in the pharmaceutical industry. “Moving over from what until now was a simple batch-processing approach to continuous production doesn’t just require equipment manufacturers to come up with new developments in the technology but it also calls for structural adjustments on the part of the operator,” Lemperle cites as an additional shift that equipment manufacturers are having to deal with.
This includes, for example, complying with documentation requirements and maintaining close contact with regulatory authorities such as the FDA. However, mixes and mixing times also continue to play an important role. That means the issue of efficiency doesn’t stop at mechanical process engineering: the homogenization of the individual components also needs to happen as quickly and efficiently as possible. A further aspect is the way in which the energy efficiency of drive motors is now deployed and the use of frequency-controlled motors instead of pole-changing motors.