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Optimizing your Production Process

KORSCH Service Engineers can offer far more than commissioning, troubleshooting, and training support.  Our experience base with a diverse range of products and applications across a global scale,  permits a unique Process Optimization capability – to insure maximum product quality, output, yield, and operating efficiencies. 

 

“Customers are encouraged to leverage our service experience base not only to install and repair equipment, but also to improve and optimize product performance”, Frederick Murray, Director of Global Sales at KORSCH AG suggests. “We apply best practices, and a systematic approach to evaluating the performance of any product on the KORSCH machine, and then implement the required steps to improve the process.  The value-added result of increasing product quality, increasing capacity, or increasing production yields, can have a significant impact, and an immediately return on investment.”

 

“The first step in the process optimization effort is to understanding the customer’s needs and set clear objectives for process improvement”, Frederick Murray points out. Typically, there are three possible objectives: increasing output, improving yields, and increasing overall production efficiencies. “We develop a corresponding plan, depending on the specific objectives.  We create and execute a test matrix to evaluate the current process, and we identify opportunities for improvement and optimization.  After running the tests, we submit a report detailing our recommendations and presenting the data on which these recommendations are based.”

 

Increasing Capacity by Process Characterization

In many cases, production outputs are based on very early development work or historical parameters, rather than a detailed analysis of the product performance across the speed range of the machine.   KORSCH uses a standard test matrix to evaluate the key parameters, including the relationship of press speed and tablet quality, tablet hardness and compression force, and feeder speed and tablet weight variation.  This methodical approach guarantees a full understanding of the process, and establishes the baseline data.  From there, KORSCH looks to optimize machine settings, evaluate alternate fill cams, feeder paddle profiles, and feeder speeds – in an effort to optimize the process. Increasing output can be as simple as increasing the press speed with optimized settings, or it may involve more subtle adjustments to the ratio of pre and main compression force, the insertion depth, or the use of tapered dies.  Once the rate limiting factors are identified, KORSCH has a deep experience base to identify and apply the proper solution.  A minor output improvement across all products can translate to significant capacity gains and higher operating efficiencies without any investment in new equipment or facilities.

A typical test matrix is as follows:

 

Test

Set Up

Objective

Press Speed / Tablet Quality

Measure the standard deviation of individual tablet weight, thickness, and hardness values across a defined speed range.

Defining the press speed range within which high-quality tablets can be produced.

Tablet Hardness / Compression Force

Operate the press at different compression forces and evaluate tablet hardness at the different press-speed levels.

Confirm the relationship between press speed, compression force, and tablet hardness.

Feeder Speed / Feeder Paddle Optimization

Operate the press at different press speeds and adjust the feeder speed across the range, while recording the relative standard deviation of individual tablet weights. Performed at each press speed and with different feeder paddle designs.

Determine the optimum feeder speed and feeder-paddle configuration for any given press speed.

Fill Cam Optimization

Test each fill cam size across the desired range with different press speeds.

Selecting the optimum fill cam at any given press speed.

 

Ultimately, this methodology will enable optimum tablet quality and production output to be achieved. “We have already succeeded in increasing productivity by 10-20% using this structured approach”, Frederick Murray relates, based on past experience. “We work with our customers to characterize the process and then support the action plan to implement the productivity gains which are supported by the data generated.”

 

Maximizing Production Yields

Production yields are a critical consideration, especially for those products which contain very expensive active ingredients.  Production yields are impacted by start-up scrap, in-process losses, and batch-end losses.  KORSCH has answers to improve all aspects of production yields.  Product recipe technology allows the press to be “dialed in” before product is loaded which significantly reduced start-up scrap.  Feeder clearance, feeder opening dimensions, feeder paddle configuration, material recirculation, and dust extraction monitoring and control can all be optimized to minimize in-process losses.  Methods to bypass low level sensors and maximize the production of good tablets at batch-end completes the yield optimization effort.   For many products, a yield improvement of just 0.5% to 1% can represent a compelling return on investment over the course of a year.

 

Increasing Operational Efficiency

A comprehensive process optimization plan will also include an evaluation of production uptime, and a focus toward improving overall operational efficiency.  For small tablets, the use of a BB or BBS turret can increase production output by as much as 20-35% without any change in the key process parameters of compression dwell time or feeder dwell time.  The use of fast change parts, which is an extra set of clean product contact parts, and a streamlined turret exchange process, can minimize changeover time and permit increased uptime and production capacity.  The optimization of the machine setup and punch lubrication system can extend the number of consecutive batches before a major clean is required.  KORSCH Service Engineers bring best practices to the evaluation of operational efficiency, and work in partnership with our customers to make recommendations that will drive improvement in uptime and efficiency.

 


 

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