Speedy and sanitary filling

By Daphne Allen in Fillers on November 07, 2014

When it comes to filling these days, just like most packaging functions, speediness is a priority. “Everyone wants speed, because time is money,” explains Timm Johnson, vice president, sales & marketing, for Spee-Dee Packaging Machinery Inc.

But to achieve speed, you’ve got to fully understand the capabilities of a given filling method.

Spee-Dee offers auger-filling technology for dry powders, and in healthcare typical powders packaged include nutraceuticals, infant formulas, and even small-volume parenterals such as penicillin powder.

Auger fillers employ screws that revolve vertically in hoppers above dispensing nozzles. The bigger the diameter of the screw, the more product that can be dispensed per revolution, explains Johnson. The technique fills by volume, not weight; the volume needed for one pound can be calculated based on product density and used to determine how many turns would be sufficient, he explains. “We do it this way for speed,” says Johnson. Spee-Dee offers screws in several sizes.

A stand-alone auger filler on a linear conveyor could typically handle up to 40 containers per minute, Johnson says. To increase output on a given line, a two-auger system can be used, he says. To watch Spee-Dee’s Dual Sanitary Auger Conveyor System, click here

A rotary auger filler could handle higher volumes up to 250 containers per minute, Johnson adds. To watch Spee-Dee’s Rotary Auger Filler, click here

Small-volume pharma products, such as 2-gram vials of penicillin powder, would use a “really little auger,” he says.

For pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, and infant formula, sanitary filling is critical, Johnson explains. And the new Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) has given sanitation more visibility in food production, too. Spee-Dee is prepared for the stringent requirements. “There are no nuts, bolts, cracks, crevices, fasteners, or even threads where powder can build up,” he says. “Surfaces are stainless steel (either 314 or 316) and are sloped so that nothing sticks.”

Sanitation is especially critical for changeover. “Allergens can be a problem,” he says. “Some companies may even decide to run particular products in separate rooms.”

For more details on Spee-Dee, which recently became 3A certified according to 3-A Sanitary Standards for packaging equipment for dry products, visit http://www.spee-dee.com/auger-fillers/auger-filler-configurations/.

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