Contax helps AstraZeneca pack

By Gregory Roumeliotis

- Last updated on GMT

Automation equipment provider Contax has increased productivity and
efficiency in one of AstraZeneca's packaging lines by installing a
new specialist conveyor.

On one line in its UK operations, AstraZeneca had been using a small manual conveyor that required a full time operator, but by replacing this with a more sophisticated system, the drugmaker freed up the operator and removed bottlenecks.

The pharmaceutical product manufactured on this line is shipped to Japan, where it will not be accepted if there is any marking or damage to the packaging.

Alarmingly, in examining its processes, AstraZeneca discovered that its old conveyor was periodically marking the packs.

In response, Contax put forward its Shuttleworth conveyor which uses a patented 'slip torque' technology to reduce product damage.

It is based on polished stainless steel shafts individually powered by flexible belts on a line shaft or by a continuous chain.

These stainless steel shafts are covered with segmented loose fit rollers which become the conveyor surface.

It is the weight of the product being conveyed combined with the coefficient of friction between the shafts and the inside diameter of the rollers that provides the driving force, so as the weight of the product increases, there is a corresponding increase in the driving force supplied.

Therefore, as the products stop, the segmented rollers beneath them also stop, creating very low backpressure accumulation and reducing product damage.

At AstraZeneca, the Shuttleworth conveyor also moves the product down from machine height to operator height, where the line is now split into two, to increase the amount of product available for packing.

The product is removed manually from the conveyor and placed into outer cartons before being taped and weighed.

"This has effectively eliminated a bottleneck in our production, as it enables more product to be transferred off the packing line,"​ said Paul Corbishley, plant engineer in UK Operations Packaging at AstraZeneca.

"The Shuttleworth conveyor has reduced the quality issues with our product packaging, and the need for a manually operated conveyor - the result is an increase in productivity and efficiency."

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