By Thomas Mauritzen,
Bosch Packaging Technology
Are you looking for ways to increase the yield on your encapsulation machine? This is something everyone faces, from contract manufacturers to big pharma, small pharma, and nutraceutical companies alike. Bosch GKF’s are robust and reliable machines, which is why there are so many of them currently in production. With an older model encapsulator you inherently don’t have the latest and greatest features, but there are plenty of things you can do to keep your machine running at top efficiency.
1.) Utilize a plastic tamping ring for your non-slide-gate equipped GKF capsule filler when running sticky products. This allows you to set the gap between your dosing disk and tamping ring tighter. This eliminates the risk of metal on metal friction and allows less product to escape from the bores of the dosing disk.
2.) Adapt your powder formulation to increase the flowability of your powder. Though not always possible, it is sometimes a viable way to increase your machine yield. All capsule fillers will run most efficiently (maximum speed and fill weight consistency) when running a good-flowing powder product.
3.) Clean vacuum pump filter at the beginning of every shift to ensure proper separation of all capsules. When empty capsules are not properly separated, those capsules are rejected from the GKF capsule filler and you waste the product that was supposed to be filled into those capsules. Cleaning your vacuum pump filter regularly will eliminate this source of bad capsules.
4.) Improve the efficiency of your segment cleaning station through an aftermarket upgrade on your older model GKF – longer cleaning pins and more air going through the segments throughout the whole cleaning cycle will improve your yield when running sticky products. Cleaner segments mean less capsule insertion and separation problems, leading to higher yields and lower amounts of wasted product.
5.) Reduce the amount of powder in your dosing bowl by installing a powder diverter kit. These kits are available for almost all GKF machines and will both reduce the amount of powder that is in your powder bowl at any time, as well as helping to divert your powder product out to the edge of the dosing bowl and creating an even powder level above the dosing disk bores, which is critical for efficient powder dosing.
6.) Ensure proper alignment of your segment carriers. This ensures proper separation of your empty capsules and in turn increases the amount of powder that gets into capsules instead of your vacuum filter. Furthermore, if the upper segment carriers on your GKF /DMW 1200 or 1500 have been damaged or replaced, a special alignment tool for your upper segment carriers is available through Bosch to ensure that your segments are properly aligned.
7.) Control the powder level in your dosing bowl more accurately. The product level in your dosing bowl is critical for accurate dosing and low product waste. Excess powder in your dosing bowl can lead to spillage onto the table top and too little powder can lead to fill weight variations and wasted product. There is an upgrade kit available for GKF 1200’s and 1500’s called the ENT6 Eliminator Kit that improves your powder level control.
8.) Ensure only good quality capsules get into the GKF encapsulator. Hard gelatin capsules should be stored in a temperature and humidity controlled environment and all capsules have an expiration date. Capsules will naturally lose or take on extra moisture from their environment, which can critically damage their weight and handling characteristics. Brittle capsules do not run as well on any capsule filler.
9.) Add an empty capsule sorting wheel to the capsule infeed of your GKF. An empty capsule sorting wheel allows only correctly shaped and undamaged capsules into your GKF empty capsule hopper. If your empty capsules are all good quality, you will have less problems in the machine with capsule separation and handling, meaning more product gets into good capsules.
10.) Upgrade to a modern GKF slide gate machine. The patented slide-gate system ensures that your powder product cannot escape the dosing disk until the transfer station, thanks to the slide gates virtually eliminating the gap between the dosing disk and the tamping ring. This can drastically reduce your waste powder in a given batch. This technology is also especially effective in allowing you to run difficult and sticky products with less product waste. An additional benefit is the ability to run pellet products on the powder station of the GKF at full speed via a height-adjustable dosing disk (and removing the tamping pins). This technology is featured on all of the modern Bosch capsule fillers (GKF 702, 1400, and 2500).
If you have any questions about the suggestions and solutions in this article, feel free to contact Bosch Packaging Technology at 763-424-4700 and we would be happy to assist you in improving the performance of your GKF capsule filler.