Two years ago, Mega Airless started looking for another reliable automated systems partner to supply automated assembly systems for their latest “Nano” (5 to 15 mL) product model and a dispenser with a child-proof cap. Pfuderer, a specialty manufacturer of fast-cycling rotary transfer systems and a member of the internationally active teamtechnik Group, emerged as the preferred choice.
Mega Airless supplies airless dispensers to companies in the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries: a plastic sliding piston in the product container equalizes the pressure within the company’s pump systems. When the product is pumped out (dispensed), the integrated sliding piston moves upwards by the amount of the removed product, preventing air from entering the product container. This method effectively protects creams, gels, lotions, and pastes from the effects of oxidation and prevents contamination.
“We believe it is essential to manufacture our new products with the same excellent functional reliability and quality as our customers have come to expect from us, and which we always provide,” says Haluk Cimentepe, Business Unit Manager for Innovation and Industrialization at Mega Airless. “And not only that but, by using smart engineering, every aspect of our production systems must have the flexibility to ensure the shortest possible set-up times for product variant changes, and to provide exceptional machine availability, so we can plan output reliably.” These were the critical factors that led the company to choose Pfuderer, says Cimentepe. “The company supplies reliable machines, with > 90 percent availability, that operate at between 50 and 60 cycles per minute, even when handling complex assembly tasks.”
March 2015 saw the market launch of the smallest dosing dispenser yet from Mega Airless: the Nano series, with a filling capacity of 5 to 15 mL, designed for use in top-of-the range cosmetics, test samples, giveaways, and pharmaceutical applications. Mega Airless had to find an automated system that was capable of assembling the tiny parts involved in this dispensing system. The space-saving rotary transfer systems manufactured by Pfuderer, in addition to the company’s extensive experience in process systems, made it the clear choice.
When working together with Mega Airless, Pfuderer had to fulfill a number of requirements at the same time. Mega Airless distributes its dosing dispensers over a global network. In many countries, cosmetics are subject to the same stringent hygiene requirements as foodstuffs. “That wasn’t a problem for us,” says Stefan Hofke, Project Manager for Mechanical Engineering at Pfuderer. “All our machines are designed to handle foodstuffs, so they can be integrated seamlessly into a GMP-compliant quality management system. The same applies to the component feeding processes. We can guarantee total product protection.”
No damage at high speeds
A more complicated issue to resolve was to feed in the individual components at a high cycle rate without cosmetic damage. “None of the containers we supply are permitted to have dents or scratches. Our customers expect us to deliver perfect products with a flawless appearance,” says Martin Riesle, Production Director at Mega Airless. “By working together with Pfuderer, we have found the solutions to these issues. For example, we use angled delivery systems that reduce the drop height and specially designed bowl feeders that sort the components without damaging them. And, despite having to implement these special solutions, we can maintain production at the required pace.” Pfuderer has its own competence center for feeder systems, which guarantees interface security and ensures that the production systems it supplies can be used to their full potential.
Up to now, the greatest challenge presented in this cooperative venture was the automated assembly of child-proof caps. To ensure the child-proof measures could reliably meet the strict requirements, even in series production, Pfuderer first used test series to determine the necessary tightening torques and press-on forces and then selected the most appropriate equipment for each individual application. In the end, Pfuderer supplied Mega Airless with a 16-station rotary transfer system. This not only included stations for feeding and positioning the different components, but also control stations for monitoring the press-on force and torque, to ensure the required levels of product safety.
The dispensers are fed into the production system on a conveyor belt. The internal components are then placed in an upstream, camera-monitored positioning station. The torque is monitored while the components are screwed together and then the force is monitored as they are assembled. “We are more than satisfied by how Pfuderer was able to handle this task,” says Cimentepe. “No doubt about it – we will bear Pfuderer in mind when looking for partners for future projects.”