Tube Packagers Benefit from New Technologies
Feeder systems for tube filling have grown much more flexible in recent years, offering quicker changeover and better ability to handle multiple tube sizes, an expert told members of the Tube Council of North America (Livingston, NJ) at their annual technical seminar held November 8, 2001, in Newark, NJ.
Bill Davis, president of Custom Systems Integration Company, Inc. (Carlsbad, CA), which is a representative for Hoppmann International (Kirchlinteln, Germany), said there are a variety of technologies available to enable tube packagers to feed their tubes into the filling line precisely the way they desire.
One process new to the United States but common in Europe is to use a bulk tube and pin chain loader, he said. This is a centrifugal feeding system that uses V-shaped puck-like carriers that can handle a variety of different diameters, sizes, and orientations. It is able to ascertain where the cap is and selectively orient tubes for filling based on the cap's location. As a result, there is reduced recirculation of tubes in the feeder.
The tube/tray unpacker system lines up tubes one row at a time, has a device clamp the top of the tube or a vacuum bar move it into place, and does not recirculate them at all, he said. These systems are small and compact and offer flexibility in floor plan layout.
The small tube feeding system, popular for smaller pharmaceutical tubes and bottles, has special scallop-shaped tooling to position a batch of smaller tubes on the same axis, Davis said. What all these systems have in common, he said, is tools that are easy to install and replace, reducing potential downtime that is costly to all industries, especially pharmaceuticals.
Even with the increased convenience these technologies offer, however, it is "always wise to have the feeding-system company involved in the design of the filling line," he said. "The layout of your plant can influence whether a feeding system can handle what you will ask of it."