Aspirin is the common name for the pharmaceutical drug called acetylsalicylic acid. Most people throughout the world have heard of aspirin or a related term for the drug such as ASA, ASS, Coricidin, Excedrin, and Vanquish. There are other names for the drug; however this entry isn’t about the names of aspirin.
Aspirin tablets are made through a process of mixing ingredients, pressing the tablets, coating the tablets, and branding the tablets. This is not true for all aspirin tablets as not all tablets are coated. Aspirin comes in forms other than tablets such as larger caplets, gel caps, and in liquid form.
What’s really interesting is how aspirin gets from point A to point B. In this case point A is the stage when the actual product is completed (pressed, coated, and branded) and point B is to the stage where it can be shipped in bulk quantities to merchants.
The ProcessOnce the raw materials are converted to convenient tablets, caplets, gel caps, etc where do they go?
The product is placed in large square bins which are loaded from the top, and come to a sloping basin located in the centre on the bottom of these bins. From there the bins are transported to a packaging area.
Packaging lines are very complicated, interesting, and outright amazing. There are 12 stages to get tablets packaged the correct way to be shipped to merchants. The 12 stages of the packaging line are: bottles, desiccant, filler, cotton machine, capper, Lepel, labeller, re torquer, cartoner, bundler, case packer, and case labeller.
BottlesMany tablets come in an ampacet white coloured bottle. The bottle is cylindrical in shape and has a volume of 90cc. The bottles come in clear plastic bags which are transported in large cardboard boxes. These large bags of approximately 600 bottles are dumped into a metal bottle hopper. They are carried from this hopper to the top of an unscrambler by way of a conveyor belt with protruding plastic panels. Once they reach the top of this conveyor belt the bottles fall onto a rotating metal plate. The centrifugal force from the rotation causes the bottles to move towards the outside wall. The bottles are pushed to the wall while rotating around the unscrambler until they reach its exit, which is a chute with metal rails that guide the bottles. The bottle falls down this chute and lands on a metal plate where it is grabbed by a metal plate formed to the curve of the bottle. The bottle is then rotated by the metal plates until the bottom of the bottle in facing downwards. Once the bottle is properly oriented it is released by the metal plates and gently dropped onto a conveyor belt.
Desiccant MachineDesiccant is the small, bluish purple cylindrical item found in the bottles of many types of medication. It is a polyethylene shell that holds silica gel, and non regulated carbon. This is put into medicine to help retain freshness and kee Toms Outlet p the tablets from sticking together.
The bottles are moved down the conveyor belt from the unscrambler to the desiccant machine. The desiccant machine works much like the bottle hopper. There is an area that holds thousands of these desiccants until they are taken by way of conveyor belt up to a round plate that spins and sends the desiccant to the walls until they exit this area. The chute which they fall down is a rubber tube instead of metal guiding rails. They are then dropped into a small slat which is cut out of a large circular plastic plate. Under this piece of plastic is a metal plate which keeps the desiccant from falling to the ground. This plastic plate then is spun at the exact same speed which the bottles are going on the conveyor belt. When the slat of the plastic plate is directly above the conveyor belt the metal plate underneath which was supporting the desiccant ends, and the desiccant is dropped into a bottle.
The FillerAfter the bottle has a desiccant in it, it proceeds down the conveyor belt until it reaches the filler. The filler is the machine that puts the correct number of tablets into each bottle.
The tablets enter the filler from a large hopper above it. This hopper is filled with tablets by the large bins which the tablets are originally put in after they are produced. A fork truck is used to raise the large bin above the hopper so that the area where the tablets leave the bin is precisely lined up with the area which tablets enter the hopper.
Once the hopper is full, the tablets flow downwards with the help of vibrators until they fall onto the filler. The tablets fall into small holes on long slats which hold just the right amount or tablets so that in one rotation the correct amount of tablets are dropped into a bottle.
The Cotton MachineOnce the bottle is filled with a desiccant and tablets it is moved along the conveyor belt until it reaches the cotton machine. This is the machine that inserts a four inch long piece of cotton into the bottle.
The cotton machine draws the cotton from large cardboard boxes which are lined with plastic bags. These containers hold 7.71kg of cotton string. The string is appr Toms Outlet oximately one inch in diameter. The cotton string is pulled in four inch increments into a machine which cuts the cotton, then has a metal rod push the cotton down into the bottle.
CapperAfter the cotton is inserted, the bottle is pulled down the conveyor belt to the capper. This is the machine which puts a cap onto the bottle.
The capper works just like the bottle and desiccant machine work. It has a hopper full of caps; the caps are drawn upwards on a conveyor belt, and dropped onto a spinning metal plate. However, this time when the caps fall down a chute they are placed on the end of a swinging metal arm. This arm then rotates inward and using air suction, they are picked up by a spinning metal cylinder. This cylinder then lifts up in the air and when a bottle comes below it, it drops down and places the cap on the bottle. It spins the cap on tightly and rises again. The bottle then exits the capper and moves back to the conveyor belt.
Lepel MachineThe bottle continues down the conveyor belt and passes under a machine that doesn’t look as though it does anything. However, looks can be deceptive. The caps that are placed on the bottles have a thin piece of foil attached to the top of the cap with a wax like adhesive. The Lepel machine uses heat to melt the adhesive so the piece of foil falls from the top of the cap to the mouth of the bottle. Once the bottle leaves the Lepel machine, the adhesive cools and dries and the piece of foil now acts as an airtight seal on the mouth of the bottle.
The LabellerAfter the Lepel machine the bottles continue down the conveyor belt until they reach the labeller. This is the machine that sticks labels to the outside of the bottle. The bottles are directed through a narrow area as they are moved down the conveyor belt. A label is pushed in front of the bottle as it passes and it sticks to the bottle. The bottle is then spun 360 to ensure the label is adhered around the entire bottle.
The Re TourquerOnce the bottle has a label it is pulled down the conveyor belt to the re tourquer machine. Since the labelled presses against the cap of the bottle in order to spin it, the re tourquer insures that the cap is still on tight. The bottled is pulled into the re torquer by the conveyor belt. It is then held in place by pads on the sides of the bottle which pull it through. At the same time there are small wheels spinning on either side of the caps which tighten the cap as it is pulled through the machine. Once the cap is tight the bottle is taken away by the conveyor belt once again.
The CartonerThe bottle comes to the cartoner by way of the conveyor belt which has been transporting it throughout the entire packaging process. The cartoner is the machine which takes a bottle and places it is a carton, and glues the carton shut. When a bottle reaches this point it is placed on its side by means of metal rails guiding it to fall over, it is then rolled onto a plastic piece with plastic barriers on either side to keep it in place.
At the same time the bottle is being placed on its side, the top of the cartoner is take folded cartons and pulling them with air pressured suction hoses and placing them on a belt of plastic posts. When the carton is moved on this belt it is neatly placed between 2 plastic posts and pulled away from the suction hoses. By doing this the carton is opened into its final square shape and held in place by the plastic posts on either side. The belt holding the bottles then moves upwards and is perfectly aligned with the belt holding the cartons. The bottle is then pushed into an open carton by a metal plunger from behind.
The tabs on the ends of the carton are now indented with the expiration date and the product number, and then metal rails push these tabs to close the carton. Before the final tab is closed a jet squirts a small amount of adhesive to seal the carton. Finally the last tab is pressed firmly against the glue and the carton is complete.
The BundlerAfter the bottles are places into cartons they are dropped onto another conveyor belt which takes them to the bundler. The bundler is a machine which takes six cartons and neatly wraps them together.
The machine constantly feeds cartons into the bundler very rapidly. When they reach the end of the belt three cartons are pressed on either side by rubber plates, and three more cartons enter below them. These six cartons are then moved upwards by a metal lift and on the way a piece of plastic is placed on top of them. When they are lifted to the top of the bundler, a metal plate slides under the bundle of cartons from behind and pushes the plastic wrap under them. Then a metal plunger pushes the bundle forward which forces the wrap from the other end to move under the bundle. The bundle is then pushed forwards by other bundle and the excess wrap is cut off the metal blades. Finally the bundle is pulled by heated belts on either side of the bundle which heat the plastic just enough in order to stick together without melting.
The Case PackerThe bundles of cartons are then taken by conveyor belt to the case packer, which works opposite the bundler. This is the machine that takes six bundles of cartons and places them in a cardboard case. The bundles are fed into the top of the case packer and when they get to the end, three bundles are dropped; three more bundles enter above them. These six bundles are then dropped down and pushed by a metal plunger into an open case Toms Outlet . The cases are put in place the same way the cartoner opens the cartons. They are then pushed through tape machines on either side which seals the cases.
The Case LabellerOnce the bundles are in the case and the case is taped shut, the case must be labelled with a product number, expiration date, and case number. This is done by a machine that squirts six rows of ink very quickly when a case is passed beneath it. It writes the product number, expiration date, and case number in that order on the side of the case is black ink.
Finishing TouchAfter the case is labelled it is moved by yet another conveyor belt until it is removed by hand and stacked on a skid in an orderly fashion for shipment. The machines used in medicine packaging are very complicated and there is a lot more to them than what is mentioned above. This should, however, give you a good understanding of how medicine really is packaged.
Please Note: h2g2 is not a definitive medical resource. If you have any health concerns you must always seek advice from your local GP. You can also visit NHS Direct or BBC Health Conditions.
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