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Base Handling Products has developed a ‘controlled environment’ lifting and handling system for aseptic pharmaceutical applications and industries including foodstuffs, microelectronics and research.

The system is suitable for use in any stage of a production process where there may be risk of physical or airborne contamination.

It can replace other mechanical systems or be used in place of purely manual handling.

By providing a controlled environment the unit enables previously hermetically sealed bags, containers or components to be opened/or handled and discharged without risk of contamination.

The first unit was developed for a multi-national pharmaceutical manufacturer to remove the potential contamination of double-wrapped irradiated/autoclaved bags of rubber bungs prior to loading into a filling machine.

This was achieved by the design and installation of a glove ported enclosed hoist that removed the operator intervention as much as possible from the loading operation.

The handling system suitable for a grade A pharmaceutical environment had to provide a physical envelope to allow conditioned air from ceiling-located LAF units to directly sweep down through the lift and ‘spill’ back into the general room.

The bespoke machine design enabled rubber stoppers to be lifted and tipped into a vial-filling feed chute at a discharge height of approximately 2,150mm.

All aspects of the unit, controls and guarding were fully compliant with all national and international regulations and successfully achieved the customer’s own Factory Acceptance Test and Documentation (FAT).

To achieve a controlled environment during lifting and tipping, Base Handling designed the unit with the lift mechanism and all other moving components contained within a special guarded and interlocked enclosure, which is sealed to prevent any ingress of external contamination.

The product being handled is loaded into the system via a purpose-built delivery hatch and thereafter is accessed via glove ports.

The pharmaceutical handling system is enclosed in a protective outer guard constructed from stainless steel box section and 12mm clear polycarbonate sheet.

Each access hatch or door is independently interlocked with a pneumatic interlock switch to ensure a complete safety and product integrity.

The safety system was designed to be a no-stored-energy system so that the lifting carriage always returned to its resting position in a controlled manner even under disconnection or loss of the compressed-air supply.

The whole unit is mounted on castors so that it can be easily manoeuvred into position for operation and removed for cleaning.

The base frame is a fabricated structure constructed from stainless steel box section with two 100mm-diameter nylon fixed castors and two 100mm-diameter nylon swivel braked castors suitable for an aseptic environment.

The lifting hopper into which the stoppers are loaded was manufactured from grade 316 stainless steel finished to 0.3um Ra and all other surfaces were grade 304 stainless steel finished to 0.8um Ra.

Andrew Pitt, sales director of Base Handling Products, said: ‘While we are used to manufacturing systems for demanding applications including pharmaceutical and hazardous areas, this aseptic specification required a new design that provides a controlled environment without being too complex in operation, or for cleaning and maintenance.’

Base Handling Products

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