Tips for a clean counting machine

A clean counting and packaging machine is essential in the pharma industry. Maintenance and cleaning are required to keep the machine within its specified limits and to prevent malfunctions. Because a pharmaceutical counting machine needs to be cleaned at each format or product change-over, this must be quick and easy. Rather, you would also avoid additional or unnecessary cleaning of the filling machine. In this article you will read about the features that make cleaning a counting machine easier.

Cleaning your counting machine is essential

A piece counting machine in the pharma industry counts all types of tablets, pills, capsules, hard or softgel, from vitamins to hormones and cancer drugs. Cleaning the tablet counting machine after each production batch is essential to avoid leaving residue or a few grains that may end up in another product. We understand the consequences of downtime costs for our clients, that’s why our tablet counting and filling machine should be able to run 24/7 with very limited change-over and cleaning time. So cleaning should be quick and easy to make sure the machine can quickly count pills, tablets and capsules again.

Counting module product contact parts

Easy to clean without tools

Among others, the CFI and CFS series are easily to clean without tools. Every product contact part and all vibratory plates can be cleaned very easily. The vibratory plates can be unlocked in the system. After that all product contact parts can be removed by hand. The order of removing all parts can be found in the manual. The complete disassembly is only a matter of minutes. For removing and cleaning the product contact-parts from the counting module you can use a contact part storage cart for safe and convenient storage.

Besides that, you can also remove the whole module by pulling it out with a special cleaning trolley. This makes it very easy to transport the entire counting module to the cleaning facility. All contact-parts can be cleaned with a soft cloth, some warm water and certain liquid cleaning agents. However, the maximum temperature and procedure for cleaning and drying may differ for each different type. Always check the maintenance chapter in the manual for the prescriptions before cleaning.

Fixed programming

It’s convenient that the counting machine is easy to take apart for cleaning, but it is also very important that it can be quickly reassembled without having to readjust everything. Thanks to the use of servo controlled settings that are all stored in the format and product recipe files, everything is set correctly again for the chosen production batch. This saves a lot of time and reduces the risk for human error.

Product dust extraction

There is a wide range of different products in the pharma industry, such as coated or uncoated tablets. Uncoated tablets often generate dust when they are processed. To remove this dust, you can apply a vacuum dust extraction system at the counting machine. This system extracts dust at the dosing slider within the hopper, through sieve holes in the vibrating plate and slots at the end of the middle vibrating plate. At these points dust is extracted in dust collectors which are connected to internal tubing and eventually to an external vacuum system. This removes dust in an early stadium which prevents it from contaminating the sensors at the front end where the counting is done.

Self compensating to maintain counting accuracy

The tablet counting and filling machine works with an infra-red transmitter and a receiver. The receivers convert the infra-red light to an electric voltage. During the free-fall of the pills or capsules the signal is interrupted which means a product is counted. To ensure the counting accuracy you need to avoid that any dust builds up inside this detection unit. Therefore, the system automatically calibrates the signal when dust builds up within the detection unit. When too much dust builds up to count accurately, the machine automatically stops and alarms the operator. You don’t have to monitor this yourself to ensure a 100% accurate counting and filling process.

Removing small product particles

Besides dust you also have to deal with small product particles. Some products are fragile and sometimes a production batch contains a lot of small product particles or broken tablets. Although the counting and filling machine is not a sorting machine, there are ways to reduce the number of product particles that ends up inside the bottles. By applying hopper plates with different diameters of sieve holes, product particles will fall through and are collected in the dust collector beneath the hopper plate. In addition to this a production inspection camera can be installed on the counting machine.

Hopper plates with different diameters of sieve holes

Scheduled maintenance

The transparent design of the counting and packaging machine makes it easier to see dust inside the machine, but scheduled maintenance and cleaning are necessary to prevent malfunctions and to preserve the lifetime of the machine. At each format or product change-over the contact parts and vibratory plates are cleaned. But also, the machine frame and the bottle handling section must stay clean to prevent downtime of the counting machine.

Product inspection camera

With Cremer and the Uhlmann Group we are always searching for new innovations to extend our counting machine portfolio. The newest development is a camera system that recognizes foreign or incorrect products and removes them, without stopping the machine. As a result, no wrong or broken product, ends up in the packaging again. Want to know more about this innovation or quick and easy cleaning of the machines? Get in contact with our experts!

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