For a crucial commodity such as medicine, it’s important to secure supply. For pharmaceutical manufacturers and patients alike, ensuring uptime across the production line is key for continued health. When a French pharmaceutical manufacturer was looking to solve a chain reliability issue on one of its packing machines, it opted for Tsubaki RS2008B Lambda Lube Free roller chain to cure days of downtime.
After manufacture, many pharmaceuticals such as tablets, capsules, granules and other products are packed into blister packaging. Each dose is contained within a ‘bubble’, usually formed from plastic, with a backing. This form of packaging, known as unit-dose, is effective at protecting medicines from the harmful effects of contamination, humidity and light. Therefore, it is ideal for safeguarding product quality.
The packaging process is carried out by specialist machines. Inside, conveyor chains with attachments are used to form the carton and insert the blister into the packaging. With so many doses requiring packaging, these chains have to withstand prolonged usage. Any downtime due to chain failure risks reducing medicine output, compromising supply and profitability.
Chain reliability challenges
A French pharmaceutical manufacturer operating a blister packing and cartoning machine from a leading packaging machine OEM was encountering issues with its internal conveyor chain. External lubrication from the chain was contaminating the blister packaging, which was damaging the quality of batches. This was resulting in time consuming repacking or loss of batches. Furthermore, every year the original lubricated chain required dismantling parts of the machine by three technicians to clean the chain and guides. The process resulted in machine downtime of up to three days, further reducing production output.
The Tsubaki cure
The pharmaceutical manufacturer approached Tsubaki, a leading designer and manufacturer of specialised conveyor chain for packaging applications, to provide a more reliable solution for the machine. Tsubaki experts recommended a RS2008B Lambda Lube Free roller chain with special SA1 attachment.
Lambda Lube Free roller chains from Tsubaki eliminate the need for external lubrication thanks to oil-impregnated bushes which provide internal lubrication. Popular in chain applications where reducing the risk of product contamination from lubricant is imperative – such as pharmaceutical or food and beverage – Lambda Lube Free roller chains also minimise maintenance requirements due to their inherent wear resistance. Features such as ring coining, a cold deformation around the pin hole of the connecting link plate, add strength to the design and help prevent premature chain elongation, improving reliability.
With the new chains installed on the blister packing and cartoning machine, technicians at the pharmaceutical manufacturer began to feel the benefits. The solution required no disassembly of the chain and guides for cleaning, adding three days of extra packaging capacity to production schedules. Delays and losses caused by contaminated packaging were also eliminated, enhancing efficiency and output. Combined with inherently low maintenance requirements and high reliability, the Tsubaki solution greatly improved productivity. This ensured that supply of medicines could continue uninterrupted, securing profitability and patient access.