ESS: High Speed Filling System for COVID-19 Test Kit Vials

Available in both automated and semiautomatic configurations, the system is made to fill up to 120 vials per minute.

The Flexible Filler/Capper is designed to use a circular puck conveyor system to transport vials or small bottles to the inline filling system.
The Flexible Filler/Capper is designed to use a circular puck conveyor system to transport vials or small bottles to the inline filling system.

As cases of COVID-19 began to intensify across the U.S.A. in early spring, a diagnostics manufacturer reached out to ESS Technologies—a provider of complete packaging line design, manufacture, and integration—to build two identical filling systems with automated cap torque for diagnostics vials to be used in manufacturing COVID-19 test kits. The system needed to be fast and capable of filling up to 120 vials per minute. ESS introduces its FC Series Flexible Filler/Capper for vials and small bottles.

Available in semiautomatic and fully automated configurations, the Flexible Filler/Capper is designed to use a circular puck conveyor system to transport vials or small bottles to the inline filling system. A timing screw drive is meant to position six vials beneath the six-up diving nozzle assembly where a precise amount of diagnostic reagent is dispensed. The cap placement is automated using Fanuc Scara robots and a cap feeder. A three-up final torque station is then supposed to apply the amount of torque to the caps. Model FC60 is designed to handle up to 60 vials per minute while Model FC120 is made to fill 120 vials per minute. The Flexible Filler/Capper for vials and small bottles uses Allen Bradley PLC controls and a 6” color touchscreen HMI for ease of operation. An optional 10” HMI is available.

The system is designed to provide changeover under 10 minutes, and fast delivery. ESS, working closely with their suppliers, delivered the first two systems within weeks of the order and ahead of schedule. The two systems will allow the diagnostics manufacturer to significantly increase the production of COVID-19 testing vials, says the company.

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