In today's highly competitive pharmaceutical industry, staying ahead of the game requires not only cutting-edge medications but also optimizing the manufacturing process. One leading global manufacturer of over-the-counter (OTC) consumer medication products embarked on a journey to enhance their production efficiency. They turned to AZO VITAL, a trusted name in materials handling and automation solutions, for assistance with an entirely new manufacturing process. In this article, we'll delve into the OTC’s unique challenge and how AZO VITAL stepped in to provide a solution that promises significant benefits for the pharmaceutical giant.
The Company and Industry
Our story unfolds within the realm of a global OTC manufacturer of consumer medication products; a company known for its commitment to innovation and quality. While we won't mention the company's name, its mission to streamline raw materials handling, continuous feeding, and blending processes is a testament to its dedication to excellence. Their primary focus is on producing medications containing Naproxen Sodium, combined with various additives, to cater to the healthcare needs of millions.
The Challenge: Optimizing Raw Materials Handling
The primary challenge was the need to revamp the entire raw materials handling process. This included receiving raw materials, unloading them, and transferring them efficiently for feeding into continuous dosing, blending, and tableting process equipment. To address these challenges, the OTC sought the expertise of AZO VITAL.
The Process Evaluation
To kickstart the project, AZO VITAL embarked on two site visits, working as a detective to gather crucial information. These visits allowed for in-depth exploration of potential equipment placement and identification of dimensional constraints within the facility. The initial discussions were somewhat constrained due to confidentiality concerns and the fact that new process trials were still in the development and evaluation phases.
However, these site visits paved the way for understanding the customer's desired process, project goals, objectives, and the three primary drivers most important to them.
Material Assessment Studies and Lab Work
Analytical samples were reviewed and tested for general flow characteristics, an essential step in the process of finding the ideal material handling solution.
The design process was no small feat. Multiple iterations of conceptual design sketches were required to meet process throughput requirements and individual feed rates for each raw material. Design challenges included interfacing with downstream equipment provided by another company and dimensional constraints in both footprint and room height.
What made this project truly unique were the spatial challenges. Fitting a raw material handling system into the available space in the factory required meticulous planning and creative problem-solving. The process was long but by working with the customer, the AZO engineer was able to develop a truly unique, and efficient system design.
Additionally, the control system design and its interface had to consider the existing process control system already in use at the facility and the new controls required by the downstream process equipment manufacturer.
AZO as Project Manager
Although the equipment design is still in process and installation won’t start until 2024, the AZO project management team will work with the VITAL sales engineer and the customer’s project managers to ensure the project is on-time and on budget. This will include project management, installation supervision, start-up and commissioning support, SAT (Site Acceptance Test) support, and on-site operator training.
The Promising Future
While the full impact of the AZO VITAL solution is yet to be realized, the customer is poised to reap immense benefits in terms of process efficiency and the production as compared to the traditional production of OTC oral solid dosage (OSD) medications. Furthermore, this design will serve as a solid foundation for future production of several other pharmaceutical products.
In conclusion, this partnership between an international pharmaceutical leader and AZO VITAL exemplifies the importance of innovation and collaboration in the pharmaceutical industry. By using AZO’s experience to address the unique challenges in raw materials handling and process optimization, this customer is poised to set new standards in efficiency and product quality, ultimately benefiting healthcare consumers worldwide.