JIAXING – Lotion filling and mixing capabilities are at the heart of wet wipes manufacturing, says American Hygienics Corporation (AHC) – the quality of lotion mixing determines the efficacy of wipes and requires efficiency and precision.
Dosing errors, the degree of homogeneity, mixing ratio errors, formula protection and sanitisation issues are among the common challenges encountered by wet wipes manufacturers, especially those still employing manual mixing operations.
Headquartered in Jiaxing, Zhejiang, AHC has 40 production lines at its two plants in China, with a gross annual output of over a billion wipes a year. Its manufacturing facilities are ISO13485 certified and make regular and over-the-counter drug wipe products as well as carrying US EPA site registrations and collaborating with relevant licensees on infection control products.
The company’s in-house blending systems are equipped with world-class compounding techniques and completely automatic operation. Computerised mixing operations ensure the accuracy of liquid mixing process while allowing for an automated monitoring process based on configured data including the adding sequence, mixing ratio, mixing time, pressure and feeding dosing.
Automation has more than doubled production efficiency, with a qualified product rate of over 99%, the company reports.
The complete system works on the basis of barcode scanning, starting from the inventory. Every tank has a barcode which contains information concerning ingredient codes, weights and adding orders. Computerised mixing operations ensure the system will only run step by step, while all mixing is done in the same process and sequence all the time. An intelligent manufacturing execution system for mixing operations enables utmost precise control over formulas and keeps them protected and confidential.
The key to avoiding mistakes when matching mixing tanks with filling lines is the one-to-one loop, which means each individual mixing tank is connected to only one filling line, according to operations manager Neel Kapadia.
“This allows you to have error free transfer and makes the cleaning and sanitising processes easier,” he explains. “Moreover, due to the unique design, AHC has been able to shorten the transfer piping by 40%, which again reduces bioburden and cuts down carbon footprint.”
AHC’s premix mixing capability allows more complex chemicals to be blended easily as its premix tanks are equipped with high RPM mixers (200x compared with a master tank) and some contain homogenizers so they are more powerful and make it easier to blend chemicals. The premix tanks are also jacketed, which allows temperature to be controlled to dissolve chemicals and greater bonding with other chemicals to be achieved.
After mixing operations, mixing tanks need to be thorough;y cleaned, which is no easy job. Chemicals must be removed from surfaces, leaving no toxic residues. Instead of using chemicals, AHC employs a hot water sanitisation system which allows 85˚C hot water sanitisation and is specifically designed to minimise bioburden. The advantages are no chemical residues and no corrosion, along with being able to reach hard-to-access areas.
“AHC treats all liquid blending with the same care as regulated drugs,” said Nilesh Parmar, CEO and founder of AHC, “We have made great investments in our liquid processing infrastructure to make sure that we deliver an industry-leading level of quality, efficiency and precision in our manufacturing process while minimising bioburden to keep both ourselves and our customers ever more reassured about the quality of our wet wipes.”