Flexicon pumps used to dose small volumes of liquid vitamins

Technikon Laboratories, based in the Florida district of Johannesburg, South Africa, has installed four Flexicon PD12I peristaltic fillers with an MC12 controller from Flexicon Liquid Filling part of the Watson-Marlow Pumps Group. The fillers are used to fill a liquid vitamin energy supplement into stick-packs.

With a 60-year history and more than 200 employees at its 14,000 square metre facility, Technikon Laboratories is an independent pharmaceutical contract manufacturer of distinction. The company is fully MCC (Medicine Control Council) and SAPC (South African Pharmaceutical Council) licensed and today boasts over 40 clients, including several multinationals. 

Stick-type sachet pack filling

A recent client request to change to stick-type sachet packs for an energy supplement product led to a production dilemma.  

“Our machine for this type of pack was geared for powder filling only,” explains the company’s Managing Director, Robert Verseput. “We needed to acquire fillers/pumps that would allow us to convert this machine to fill liquids as well.”

The solution arrived in the form of four Flexicon PD12I peristaltic fillers with an MC12 controller. Duly acquired from Flexicon Liquid Filling in October 2013, the four fillers service the eight-lane machine by splitting the dosing into two on each pumphead. Now, instead of filling powder, liquid vitamins get pumped into the sticks as before the pack is sealed by the machine. The MC12 controller is triggered by a 4-20mA signal which actions the machine to fill 10ml of liquid vitamins into each stick simultaneously. 

The pumphead works with a double tube element with a Y connector to combine two channels of flow into one, thereby providing a higher flow but removing nearly all pulsation. When required, the two channels of flow can be used individually as is the case with Technikon. This adds versatility to the way the pumps can be used.

Fastest growing solution

The peristaltic filling principle is the fastest growing filling technology in the pharmaceutical industry due to well-established advantages such as sterility, guarantee against cross-contamination and easy cleaning. These are achieved by the fact that the product is only in contact with USP Class VI tubing and a filling nozzle.  

The modified machine at Technikon is now one of two automatic high speed GMP lines located in a pharmaceutical production area. Operating at 50 cycles per minute, the machine produces sticks (sachets) filled with liquid at a rate which is required in a high-capacity filling line. With a slight modification in the standard design of the fluid path, 400 fills per minute has been obtained. Stick fill volumes vary between 4 and 25 ml, in typical batch sizes of around 1000 litres.  

The Flexicon PD12I is an extremely flexible liquid filling unit, which can fill volumes from less than 0.2 ml to more than 250 ml with accuracy better than ±1% in the range from 0.2 ml to 0.5 ml and better than ±0.5% in the range from 0.5 ml upwards. This flexibility and accuracy is achieved without having to change anything except the bore size of the tubing.  

The PD12 peristalitic filler also features an anti-drip function which is particularly important in sachet-filling applications. This helps to ensure there is no dripping between fills which could potentially prevent a proper sealing/welding of the sachets.  

Good project

Both speed of fill and ease of cleaning are cited by Mr Verseput at Technikon as “important” in what he describes as a good investment project. 

“High standards, reliability and service levels, including the ability to meet deadlines, is vital to the success of Technikon,” he concludes. “That is why ongoing investment in the latest technologies is so important.”