Intellitech’s Liquid Filling Machine Brings Scalability to Bioprocessing Company Downstream Fill/Finish Process
Intellitech recently had the opportunity to improve the fill/finish process for a life-science bioprocessing company in the Midwest from a manual operation to state-of-the-art automation for a fully automated bottle feed, uncap, fill, cap and label application process. The upgrade reduced set up and cycle time for the fill/finish process while improving the accuracy and repeatability of the operation. With the new liquid filling equipment in place, the company increased the capacity of their fill/finish process to support business growth.
The Client’s Predicament:
Intellitech was approached by a bioprocessing company interested in exploring the capabilities of automated liquid filling machines. The company specializes in the production of cell culture supplements that are frequently used in the pharmaceutical and diagnostic sectors. More specifically, they handle protein fractions that are used as cell culture media and diagnostic controls in critical pharmaceutical applications.
At the time, the life-science company had an extremely efficient hand-filling process performed by two employees; one unwrapping cartons of bottles and loosening the caps, while the other employee performed the uncap, fill, and cap placement operations. The employee, who was very adept at their job, could uncap, fill and place a cap on an average of 600 bottles an hour.
Although the manual filling process was efficient, the company knew that filling by hand was not sustainable, and there were underlying productivity issues that would need to be addressed to support their business growth:
- If the hand-filling operator was unavailable, filling operations would be in jeopardy
- The complete cap tightening process was outside the filling suite – lengthening the cycle time
- The hand-filling process was not infinitely scalable – automation would usher in the opportunity to fill larger production runs in shorter timeframes
It was clear that the client required a reliable, state-of-the-art filling machine that would allow for various customization options, while still ensuring consistency and highly efficient large-scale operations. Intellitech’s newest uncap, fill and capping machine, the intelliFILLER™ , proved to be an ideal match for their specific requirements, allowing for consistent production at large volumes.
Intellitech’s Solution: The intelliFILLER™
The intelliFILLER™ is a precision liquid filling and capping machine specifically designed for clean-room applications. The machine is modular, and can operate independently or as a component in a larger production line. Able to be used for a wide range of container types and fill volumes, the intelliFILLER™ allows for highly efficient, streamlined processes — unscrewing a capped bottle, filling with highly accurate, repeatable liquid fill volume, and recapping the bottle with a precision torque value. The unique design ensures the bottle travels the shortest possible distance from filling to capping, allowing for reduced cycle time and minimizing the time a container is open. The intelliFILLER™ is also designed to have a small footprint, making it ideal for tight spaces and small facilities. Extremely versatile, this machine is a custom configuration of standard fill and finish modules able to be customized for a wide range of applications.
How did the intelliFILLER™ address the bioprocessing company’s needs?
The i-FILL® Pump – Capable of Handling Delicate Product
Designed for use in critical applications, the i-FILL® liquid filler is the core of the intelliFILLER™ machine, capable of handling delicate fluids and live cell samples. Unlike peristaltic pumps, which operate with destructive shearing forces, the i-FILL® can transfer delicate samples without the risk of damaging them via a low-shear or no-shear technology. The improved cell viability that the i-FILL® provides in the transfer process was critical for the life-science and bioprocessing company.
The i-FILL® Pump – Improved, Repeatable Fill Accuracy with Digitally Controlled Precision Servo-Driven Technology
The possibility of human error and inaccurate fills were also areas of concern with the hand filling process. No matter how precise a hand-filling operator is, there is the inevitability of overfilling or underfilling and/or a small amount of product loss/spillage. The i-FILL® precision, positive displacement pump technology eliminated that risk for the bioprocessing company. The no-drip filler ensures high-value, liquid product is not lost between fill cycles. Repeatable fill volumes are stored in the pump as recipes to reduce set up time and ensure consistent, repeatable fill volumes from batch to batch.
The i-FILL pump uses state-of-the-art digitally controlled, servo motor technology to provide a high level of motion accuracy resulting in unmatched, highly accurate, repeatable fill volumes. This technology also provides highly configurable liquid dispensing profiles to control the speed of the filling process and accommodate various liquid product characteristics such as foaming. Live cells can be transferred through the pump with a high viability rate because of its no-shear, low-shear liquid flow path. Intellitech has years of experience in using servo technology, and we’re proud to put that expertise to use in helping to ensure optimal precision in liquid filling machines.
The i-FILL® Pump – Reduced Risk of Cross Contamination with Single-Use Fluid Path
Traditional liquid filling line cleaning methods to eliminate cross contamination are costly and challenging to validate in regulated filling environments. While the i-FILL can be equipped with interchangeable stainless-steel product contact parts, many of Intellitech’s customers have adopted single-use technology and moved to the disposable fluid path to minimize the risk of cross-contamination. Disposable fluid path kits, assembled in an ISO Class 7 cleanroom, come double-bagged, Lot # controlled and gamma irradiated. Each kit is a complete fluid path from the connection to the product tank through to the fill nozzle. Customers can customize the fluid path kit for tubing lengths, valves, filters and connections to make the changeover from filling batch to batch simpler, requiring less human handling.
The i-CAP® Torquer – Capable of Reducing Bottle Capping Cycle Time
One of the major concerns with the hand-filling process was bottle capping cycle time. Even though the hand-filling process was about 10 bottles per minute, the complete bottle capping did not take place simultaneously, ultimately making the filling and capping completion cycle much longer.
The i-CAP® provided a complete solution to reduce the uncap and cap cycle time. A dual-headed i-CAP® uncapped containers at the beginning of the line and another dual-headed i-CAP tightened caps after the fill process. All operations (uncap, fill and cap) were performed in approximately a 2-foot distance, minimizing time in which an open, filled container is exposed – a significantly shorter distance than that of similar filling machines and the hand-fill operation.
The i-CAP® also has interchangeable cap chucks reducing set up time between production runs of different containers and caps.
The i-CAP® Torquer – Improved, Repeatable Cap Torque Accuracy with Digitally Controlled Precision Servo-Driven Technology
Again, Intellitech’s experience with servo motor technology benefits customers by translating to repeatable, accurate application torque to the bottle capping process. Application torque can be monitored and captured in production batch records. Process alarms can be programmed to indicate when/if a cap does not meet the application torque specification. Application torque settings can also be included in fill/finish batch recipes for reuse and reduced set up time.
The intelliFILLER™ provided the solutions that the bioprocessing and life science company were looking for in their automated liquid-filling operation. By providing improved liquid filling accuracy, reduced cycle time for uncap, fill and bottle capping process, and delicate liquid product handling capabilities, the bioprocessing company now has the capability to take on an increased workload without increased risk.
The intelliFILLER™ in Action
To learn more about the intelliFILLER™ filling and capping machine, check out the demo video above. Or, to discuss how Intellitechs custom liquid fill and finish machinery can benefit your regulated liquid-filling application, contact our expert team today at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 727-914-7000; we’re on hand to answer any questions you may have.