To get the best from the investment in your new factory, it is vital to pay close attention to what materials handling system is going to complement your building design, whether that is a single-floor or multi-floor design. The right IBC system will ensure that your pharmaceutical equipment is functioning well and factory production flow is optimised, keeping your manufacturing costs down.
In this blog we look at making sure you select an IBC system that will enable your material to flow out of the container with full discharge of material. In our 40+ years in the industry we have seen the consequences of product that won't flow. At the basic level there are operators banging the sides of containers with hammers creating dents all over the bin - commonly called 'hammer-rash' or 'Bin-rash'. At the other end of the scale, we have seen operators fully clothed in hazard suits rodding the product out through the container inlet to get it all out. Not a good practice both for the operator or product quality and definitely not GMP!
As you start to investigate which IBC is the best, don’t be driven by price alone. Take a look at the full value proposition. What initially looks like a cheaper option may not give you the performance you ultimately need. It is worth taking a close look at the different types of IBC available on the market.
The Usual Causes of Poor Product Flow
There can be many causes of poor product flow – usually it is due to the deadly combination of unsuitable design of the IBC and the characteristics of the powders. If material has a more cohesive structure, it can easily get trapped within a butterfly bin. This is because there is no mechanism within the bin to break up any bridging and nothing to stimulate the powder to flow.
The structure of the particles mean that they interlock and gain a strong structure that gravity alone can’t overcome. You might find that the material above the outlet does discharge, but then any material above this becomes stuck then friction with the walls of the container only makes the problem worse.
How to Get Better Powder Flow
The solution lies in finding an IBC system that uses Cone Valve technology. Our Matcon IBCs have been used for the last 35 years to interface with pharmaceutical equipment because they offer more guaranteed flow of powder material due to our own unique Cone Valve within each IBC. The lifting action of the cone overcomes all manner of bridging and blocked materials, by virtue of the integral cone vibration which takes place at the top of the lifting cycle, which breaks down any bridging. See the cone Valve in action.
In fact, our Cone Valve is even successful in discharging ‘wet-cake’ in the API process.
Whilst savings can be made by buying cheaper IBC systems or copies of Cone Valves, you should be aware that the secret is in the detail. A relatively small short-term saving has been shown to cost many times more money in running costs, poor product scrappage or lost production. If you are tempted by the alternatives, we would advise you to research them in great detail before committing one way or the other.
We have put together a handy checklist of questions to ask suppliers of IBC systems to ensure that you get the best one for your needs.