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Pmax® – recipe for success

At its British site in Macclesfield, AstraZeneca produces three variants of one of it‘s leading breast cancer tablets. The company has increased its production volume on account of the increased demand worldwide. But the existing machine setup made it impossible to achieve the optimal output volume. Fette Compacting provided support in finding a solution and even succeeded in exceeding the set goals.

Tableting tools - Pmax® turrets

The production facility in Macclesfield near Manchester has already been using tablet presses from Fette Compacting for more than 20 years. Due to the complex interactions of the processes, new production conditions pose a challenge even for experienced operators. The aim was to increase the production quantities. The granulation and tableting cycle times were not coordinated anymore, as there was a bottleneck in tableting. In the case of breast cancer tablets, there was always a jam in the granulation process and the IBC granulation containers were not emptied quickly enough.

The production facility in Macclesfield near Manchester has already been using tablet presses from Fette Compacting for more than 20 years. Due to the complex interactions of the processes, new production conditions pose a challenge even for experienced operators. The aim was to increase the production quantities. The granulation and tableting cycle times were not coordinated anymore, as there was a bottleneck in tableting. In the case of breast cancer tablets, there was always a jam in the granulation process and the IBC granulation containers were not emptied quickly enough.

Pmax® and FS12® – the ideal combination
“A particularly efficient and elegant solution for increasing output entails the use of a Pmax® turret in combination with FS12® punches and segment technology from Fette Compacting,” adds Global Account Manager Martin Davies, who was responsible for on-site consulting by Fette Compacting. Segments replace traditional dies and feature tablet profiles which are integrated directly in the segments. This enables the integration of significantly more tableting stations even if the tablet size remains unchanged. In combination with an FS12® punch, this was 66 instead of 36 stations at AstraZeneca.

FS® punches are also characterized by an application-optimized headform. As a result, the dwell time increases, running performance is smoother, and wear is reduced on all components involved. The Pmax® turret also has a major influence on plant performance. At AstraZeneca, it permitted a speed of 115 rotations per minute and therefore up to 470,000 tablets per hour. “One major advantage of this solution is its uncomplicated conversion as the product and machine features remain unchanged. What‘s more, individual tablet exfiltration permits reliable quality assurance,” explains Martin Davies.

Amortization in three weeks
Using the same turret speed, application of the new tools at AstraZeneca led to an output increase of 83 percent. Batch production time was reduced from 14 to 6.5 hours on the smallest tablet variant. Furthermore, even fluctuations in weight, thickness, and hardness have been reduced. The Pmax® turret with all of its segments and punches can be removed in one piece and cleaned offline. This shortens changeover times and ensures that production can recommence faster.

Investment in the new tools paid off swiftly for AstraZeneca: “A capital expenditure of only 350,000 GBP was required to increase output. As a result, amortization was possible after three weeks of operation,” is how Graham Patten describes the success of the project.

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Patent details FS® Technology:
FS12®: EP 2 111 972 B1 and US 8,137,089 B2

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