Matcon IBC offers a range of lean solutions to reduce waste, optimise productivity and increase product quality in the pharmaceutical industry.
Lean theory is now a generally accepted improvement tool in the healthcare industry, driven primarily by the competitive need for world class performance. Gradual and consistent elimination of waste has already led to significant reduction of inventory and cycle times, improving cash flow, customer satisfaction and bottom line profit.
Continuous set up is less favoured in multi-product plants for reasons of very high set up time and consequent push to inventory. Individual processes may very well be continuous and can appear to be very efficient in a multipurpose pharmaceutical plant.
True flow can be created through the continuous reduction of waste. A ‘Single Unit’ is to be based on the minimal average quantity as ordered by the customers, which translates directly to Batch Size. If batches are bigger than ordered, one is only producing to stock and increasing the inventory.
Continuous Processing and Continuous Manufacturing
Economical batch sizes are also influenced by criteria such as the cost of re-validation, limitations of existing equipment as well as time consuming cleaning and QC activities. Kaizen events are a great tool to gradually reduce these influences.
One major problem however is the manufacturing method and consequent scale up limitations, already laid down in the R&D phase, which can be overcome by using continuous processes rather than batch based traditions.
Such processes do not need to be scaled up and compliance to a Lean Batch Size is simply a matter of run time. While continuous manufacturing benefits single product facilities, the additional cleaning and set up times as well as synchronisation issues make such a set up less beneficial for multi product, flexible facilities using parallel processing techniques.
Quality by Design
QbD can also make a huge difference in making a batch-wise operation lean. Traditional quality control ‘by sampling’ lines up batches in quarantine, thus creating large amounts of WIP-inventory. It also has a very negative impact on flow and cycle times and moves the organisation away from Pull. QbD solves this problem as batches can be released straightaway.
Matcon IBC blenders are much faster than many of the downstream process steps, so one machine could ‘serve’ many, provided the cycle time is not increased by traditional QC. Using PAT (in this case on-line NIR spectroscopy), this problem is solved and the OEE of the blender maximised.
The Lean benefits of continuous process modules
Linking continuous (and batch) processes using a batch IBC system have significant benefits for reducing change over times (off-line cleaning) as well as relieving bottlenecks using ‘parallel processing’.
Maintaining a steady state flow and full quality throughout the batch is very demanding on the bin system itself. The Matcon cone valve bin system guards this quality by creating mass flow and control of feed in addition to removing the risk of segregation, blockages and inconsistencies.
Keeping a constant (and not flood-fed) head load on the inlet of the process, narrows variation at the output. Avoiding segregation of often blended product is the most significant lean contribution of Matcon IBC systems to reduction of defects.
In Bin Blending
The immediate danger of serious segregation when discharging a stationary blender is often a root cause of defects. Additionally, such blenders are very time consuming to clean when changing products resulting in a low Overall Equipment Effectiveness.
Matcon IBC blenders eliminate these problems as the blend is not transferred to the IBC but remains intact. The Matcon blender itself is not in contact with the product and requires no cleaning.