A leading epidemiology research institute based in Moscow has ordered three Flexicon FMB210 fully automatic filling and capping systems from Watson-Marlow Pumps Group. The new machines will be at the forefront of providing anti-epidemic arrangements for communicable and parasite-born diseases. The move follows years of success using Flexicon semi-automatic equipment.
Traditionally, the institute's laboratories performed simple manual filling and capping of bottles and micro-tubes. However, keen to advance, the organisation purchased its first Flexicon PF6 dispensing pump, a semi-automatic FF20 bottle handling system and FC10 crimp capper in 2006. In subsequent years, satisfied with the quality and reliability of Flexicon equipment, as well as the support provided by the local Flexicon distributor (Pharmintec/Interpharm Technology), several more FF20, PF6 and FC10 units were purchased for their research.
In 2013, the institute wanted to take the step into fully automatic filling and capping operations, opting for a trio of high specification Flexicon FMB210 machines. The FMB210 is a complete concept for fully automated production based on a design featuring modular tool blocks on a central tool platform, for different applications.
Micro tubes, vials and bottles are processed by means of a 10-slot star wheel, which positions the vials with great stability and accuracy in the different working stations. The star wheel indexing system has been developed to meet the demand for accurate positioning and gentle handling. Furthermore, FMB210 is equipped with a number of sensors to facilitate correct operation and ensure that a missing bottle does not result in subsequent filling/capping.
Two of the FMB210 machines are used to fill 1.5 and 2 ml micro-tubes and vials with a maximum 1.3 ml of test substance. Up to 38 micro-tubes per minute is filled with accuracy better than ±1%. After filling, the machine applies screw caps by deploying Flexicon’s highly accurate, servo-driven screwdriver with torque control.
The third FMB features a BU12 bottle ‘unscrambling’ unit for bigger plastic bottles with screw caps. The bottles used are 20-100 ml, with filling volumes from 8–100 ml. The output of the machine depends on the size of bottle and filling volume, but it will be up to approximately 30 bottles per minute. Typical batch size is circa 1500 bottles. After the filling and capping process, the micro-tubes, vials and bottles are used for in-vitro testing.
Each FMB210 machine is used for around four hours per day initially, although production is set to ramp up in the near future. The three machines are located in different laboratories over the facility.