Cremer meets Orion’s high pharmaceutical standards
Orion is a globally operating Finnish pharmaceutical company. It develops, manufactures and markets human and veterinary pharmaceuticals. The tablet counting and bottle filling process is a critical aspect in this type of industry. It should be highly accurate, time efficient and not sensitive to errors. For many years Cremer Speciaalmachines has been Orion’s reliable business partner, offering compact and efficient machinery for filling and counting any kind of oral solid dosage products, such as tablets and capsules. Talking about Cremer’s CFS bottle filling system, Orion’s sourcing manager Juha-Pekka Koskela is beyond doubt: “This has proven to be the value for money we were looking for in 2017.”
Orion’s main market is Finland, where it is the clear market leader. Its six manufacturing plants and most of the R&D operations are located there. The products are marketed in over a hundred countries, and the Group’s own human pharmaceuticals sales organisation covers almost all key European markets as well as several Southeast Asian countries. The company employs 3,500 people and is continuously developing new drugs and treatment methods. The core therapy areas of Orion’s R&D are neurological disorders, oncology and respiratory diseases for which the company develops inhaled pulmonary medication. Orion’s customers are mainly healthcare service providers and professionals such as specialist and general practitioners, veterinarians, pharmacies, hospitals, healthcare centres, clinics and laboratories. Consumers with pets are another important customer group.
Orion’s production sites focus on the manufacturing of tablets, liquids, creams, gels, inhalers, injectables and active pharmaceutical ingredients. Tablets are one of the most important products manufactured at a pharmaceutical production unit. Almost every pharmaceutical manufacturing unit today makes use of tablet counting and filling machines for the job of packaging.
Koskela has been working with Orion for 23 years now. He has managed several departments, including maintenance for seven years. Since five years he is responsible for the sourcing of machinery, mainly in the packaging area. He was already familiar with Cremer’s counting and filling technology, because for many years the Uhlmann IBC 120 machine equipped with the Cremer CF 622 counting modules, was used in Orion’s packaging process. The Cremer CFS 622 machine was implemented in Orion’s production site in Turku, in the south west of Finland. The machine is used for tablet packaging in the cancer department.
Compact and easy to clean
What was the main reason for Orion to explore the Cremer CFS 622 tablet counting machine? Koskela: “We needed a more compact machine which was also easy to clean. At that time, in 2017, Cremer introduced a new model which met our demands. One of the decisive factors was the expandability of the machine in case we would experience an urgent rise of volumes. Other machines we compared, were not able to settle this.” While investment is an important factor, Koskela emphasizes that Orion will never start with the money issue when considering new machinery. “We always begin with feasibility checks and then go to the budget stage. We want good value for money.”
The CFS 622 was developed as a modular solution for scalable output and performance. An important feature, and also highly appreciated in other markets, is the availability of four counting modules. Apart from the required 100 percent counting and filling accuracy, the machine can increase the production speed by adding extra modules, maximizing at 200 bottles per minute if four modules are applied. Based on current operations Orion does not need the maximum output and therefore is satisfied with its two modules that guarantee 80 bottles per minute. The machine offers enough space for possible future upgrades. “This is a cost-efficient benefit we considered”, says Koskela. “We have not purchased capacity which we would not use. We have only invested in machine performance we really needed in our operation.”
Special low pressure containment system for the CFS 622
The CFS 622 delivered to Orion is not a standard type. Cremer has placed a special housing around the counter to protect operators and environment. The products to be processed, are meant for cancer treatment. They have a toxic classification which indicates how much active ingredients are tolerated in the air outside the machine. This low-pressure containment system prevents that particles might escape from the machine housing and contaminate the packaging room during the counting and bottle filling process. To build this feature, Cremer cooperated with its owner Uhlmann Pac-Systeme. The system is used together with the central dust collection manifold, a standard feature on the CFS 622.
In addition Orion needed an infeed area to bring in the bottles from the unscrambler and an extra outfeed area to guide them to the next machine for capping. The distance between these areas is about 1,8 metre. Koskela: “Some strategic openings were created to make the machine easily accessible for troubleshooting and cleaning. Its cleanability is ahead of competitors.”
Flexibility and understanding
Having worked in this sector for more than twenty years now, Koskela knows the pharmaceutical machinery industry very well. He understands the demands of Orion’s customers and therefore knows what they expect from an experienced manufacturer. “Customers ask for environmental friendly machines and relevant safety and health regulations. Next reliability comes in. The construction of the machine is very robust. Data integrity is excellently handled in Cremer machines, which is an important requirement in the pharmaceutical industry. Also, we use different types of tablets, in three shapes, and two different bottles. Setting up the machine to make sure that each type of product is handled correctly, is really very easy, despite the containment situation. Cremer knows our market and needs. We have a very pleasant partnership, which means that there is flexibility and understanding from both sides.”