In-line and on-line monitoring forms part of the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Process Analytical Technology (PAT) initiative but GEA believes current optical observations may be flawed.
This is due to the risk of window fouling, an occurrence that can limit the user’s view of the product and result in incorrect analysis data or unwanted interuptions of the process.
Consequently GEA and J&M Analytik AG designed the Lighthouse Probe to eliminate the risk of this occurring, using an array of cleaning processes and fibre optics. The technology can be used for processes involving wet and sticky powders, such as operations in fluid bed systems, high shear granulators or spray dryers.
Elements of the probe
GEA’s Lighthouse Probe consists of five elements: a probe with optics; a spectrometer; software; movement unit and housing; and a clean-in-place (CIP) unit.
The combination of these elements, and in particular the fibre optics and mirrors, has enabled GEA to create “an exceptionally compact design suitable for simple mounting on the smallest processors without disrupting the process”.
To maintain visibility throughout monitoring the Lighthouse Probe uses in-process cleaning, ensuring a clear optical path during use, and CIP technology at the end of the operation.
In addition the probe has a self-calibration facility that can check if the seven observation windows have become contaminated and if the spectrometer is properly configured.
These features allow in-product measurement with 360º view and simultaneous use of various analytical methods, such as near infrared Raman (NIR).