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Case Studies

The Problem

Customer A is a manufacturer of film coated health supplement tablets.  They sourced all coating ingredients (polymer, plasticiser, TiO2, Talc and colours) individually and coated their product on an older side-vented, fully perforated machine.

The final quality of the coated product caused regular concern due to non-uniform colour and on occasion, rough tablet surface finish. The customer was hesitant to move to a one step, ready-to-use coating system as they expected this would significantly increase their costs. They had not received a site visit from the equipment supplier for more than 12 months. Standard coating process time was approximately 130 minutes per batch.

CBH engaged with the customer to audit the entire sourcing and manufacturing process and provide support to upgrade their operating procedures. 

Implemented changes

Firstly, we replaced the old spray guns as they had been damaged through bad practise causing non-uniform droplets and distribution to the surface of the tablet. We also upgraded the spray arm to guarantee equal distance between spray guns. All Inlet and Exhaust filter units were replaced to increase the volume of airflow through the equipment. We relocated the exhaust temperature probe to improve the accuracy of temperature control. It was decided that converting to a one-step, ready-to-use coating system would increase efficiency. We provided training on site to cover all operational aspects including solution preparation, spray-gun calibration, accurate spray-rate recording, regular tablet weight gain checks etc.

Results

  • Reduction of number of ingredients to be sourced and stored on site (1 coating formulation instead of 6 ingredients). Reduced sourcing activity, quality testing workload etc.
  • Elimination of use of hot water to prepare the coating solution.
  • Solution preparation time reduced from approx. 90 minutes to 45 minutes.
  • Improvement of airflow volume by approx. 20%.
  • Elimination of tablet film surface roughness through combination of optimised droplet size and drying rate.
  • Balanced process conditions with reduced level of waste. This also allowed the customer to run more batches of product between cleaning cycles.
  • Accurate deposition of coating to achieve 3% w/w weight gain on all tablets.
  • Coating cycle time reduced to 90 minutes (25% time saving on process time).

Outcome

  • Customer A identified a saving on the first product alone of more than 10 man hours per month operator time, as well as actual energy and materials cost savings of approx. 15%.
  • Customer A has now moved to Ready-to-use coating formulations for all products manufactured on site.
  • Monthly engineering schedule implemented for equipment walk-down to check operational performance of Inlet and Exhaust systems (Air volume, filter performance etc.)
  • Daily Process Operator checks implemented for spray-gun calibration and process conditions recording.