A multinational vaccine company previously used various packing methods in several sites based on local training that relied upon specialist operators who were difficult to replace if they were absent or left the company. Moving to fully automated packing has increased the packing success rate from 62% to 99%. The biggest reduction in errors came from the multiaxis control of piston movement which has eliminated piston skew events. The reduction in repacking reduced labor costs 31% in one site and 41% in another site. The company says it is saving 100,000 Euros per year across all its sites. “One of the benefits of fully automated packing is shortening the time needed for Quality Assurance conversations regarding cleaning or validation,” the multinational vaccine user reported. Maintenance and cleaning costs are also lowered because there are no extra pumps or packing skids required. The new column also has a smaller clean room/storage footprint. That translates into more space in tight clean rooms.
Packing failure caused by human error or absence of experienced operators is a major risk in the key unit operations of packing, unpacking and cleaning of process-scale chromatography columns. The new generation of automated packing systems provide automated sequences that assure reliable and consistent operation. The fully automated approach enables packing to be accomplished by any operator regardless of skill, thus eliminating error and reducing the dependence on key operators. By integrating all of the packing functionality into the power unit, the need for a separate packing skid is eliminated. In addition, the ability to use all of the slurry in the tank means savings can be made in overall sorbent consumption. All in all, the new generation of automated packing systems can enable biopharmaceutical manufacturers to produce a higher quality product at a lower cost.
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