The speed, accuracy and repeatability of a Flexicon PF6 tabletop peristaltic filling machine from Watson-Marlow Pumps Group is helping a Hertfordshire-based supplier of customised medicinal products improve its process strategy.
TEMAG Pharma was established in 2008 by two fully qualified pharmacists. Based at Welwyn Garden City, the company manufactures and supplies medicinal ‘specials’, which are essentially unlicensed medicines, albeit ones that are registered and regulated by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
“If a patient can’t swallow tablets, for example, we will make a liquid version; or if a patient is allergic to a particular medicinal ingredient, we can produce an alternative that omits the offending additive,” explains Greg Tombs, the company’s operations manager.
As a consequence, TEMAG Pharma produces many 1-off batches. However, more recently, the company has witnessed increasing requirements for larger batches, up to 150 bottles in some instances.
“These were proving extremely challenging to fill accurately using a manual pipette,” says Mr Tombs. “It was also very laborious and repetitive, so we explored the idea of introducing a little automation. We sourced a few potential suppliers and staged trials with three machines. However, we immediately liked the build quality of the Flexicon PF6 tabletop filling machine. It came across as solid, professional and precise. Also, regarding the flow of liquid, we could see it was more consistent than the competitor machines, with far fewer bubbles.”
High accuracy filling
The Flexicon PF6 offers high accuracy of ±0.5%, which is obtained through Flexicon’s pulse-free peristaltic filling. A wide range of volumes from 0.5ml to 250ml can be filled, while changeover between batches or different liquids takes less than 60 seconds. Importantly, there is no potential for cross-contamination or requirement for cleaning validation as the liquid touches nothing but the tubing and the filling nozzle.
“We also like the fact that the system is expandable,” says Mr Tombs. “If we desire, in the future we can easily upgrade to add bottle handling and capping and make the system fully automated.”
Installed in early 2013, TEMAG Pharma has found itself using the peristaltic filling machine on at least a weekly basis.
“The Flexicon PF6 machine has improved our large batch filling operations no end,” states Mr Tombs. “When I think about how we were doing it before; gauging bottle fill-levels by eye, mopping up spillages and so on – this machine has really changed our strategy. It has also produced financial savings. To fill a big batch manually would previously have engaged one of our technicians for an entire day. Now we can process the entire batch in just 60 minutes.”
This is vital as TEMAG Pharma takes pride in fulfilling orders against extremely short lead-times, at high quality; and judging by its growth, the company has been extremely successful. In just five years TEMAG Pharma has grown to employ 17 people, who today help supply a host of bespoke medicinal products to pharmaceutical wholesalers, pharmacies, dispensing doctors and hospitals throughout the UK.