Static control on medicinal bottle lines

There’s no margin for error when it comes to the production of medicines

Iain Cameron, Marketing Director, Meech International

The importance of accurate dosage is reflected in the pharmaceutical industry’s stringent regulations, which aim to prevent mistakes in the medicine manufacturing process from happening.

Companies within the sector have modified their production processes to comply with this, updating their lines with equipment that can perform tasks at advanced levels while reducing faults.

Bottle filling lines, for example, are optimised to ensure free-flowing production processes that dispense the correct dosage for each individual container — but the presence of static electricity can threaten efficiency.

The impact of static

Medicinal bottles, ampoules and vials can generate static through friction, which occurs following contact with each other and various surfaces while moving along the conveyor.

This can impact the high-precision weighing system at the end of the line, as the static charge can interfere with the electronics of the scale, resulting in an incorrect reading or no reading at all.

And it’s not just electronic systems that can be impacted by static; operators within the area may also be shocked if they come into contact with the containers after they have been on the conveying line. In an industry in which time-sensitive production and health and safety is critical, these are serious issues to contend with.

Until any scale measurement issues are rectified, manufacturing and packaging will have to be halted. No medicines can leave the factory until they have been fully approved as being safe to use and have an accurate dosage reading.

Associated delays with these issues can lead to reduced productivity and increased wastage levels. Time may also be needed to investigate electrical problems caused by static, resulting in conveyor line downtime and a call out fee for an engineer.

What’s the solution?

Technology is available that can combat static issues: static control devices, such as Meech’s 976 Pulsed DC Ionising Bar, are designed to eliminate static charges on a diverse range of objects. Adjustable and compact in size, these bars can be placed in different positions and on various parts of conveying lines.

Ionisation is provided through alternating positive and negative emitter pins, which are resistively coupled to the high voltage pulsed DC source. They are shockless to touch, so operator safety isn’t compromised.

Placing these devices along the conveyor line will remove the static generated by the bottles, making certain that final measurements are accurate and any electric weighing systems are not impacted.

Static control systems in the manufacturing process can help companies to become fully compliant and help keep production flowing, reducing the chance of deadlines being missed and costs being incurred for additional maintenance.

With health and safety also of vital importance, static control will not just protect a medicine manufacturer’s market share, but also provide its employees with a safer working environment.