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Title:
MACHINE FOR FILLING BOTTLES AND THE LIKE COMPRISING HANDLING DEVICE FOR WASHING AND SANITISING
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2018/019775
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
This invention relates to a machine for filling bottles, cartridges, syringes and the like, generally defined as containers, the machine comprising a chamber with an inlet and outlet for containers and at least one intermediate operating station in which the containers are subjected to specific processing, wherein it comprises at least one handling device (2) with several degrees of freedom, automatically controlled and reprogrammable and at least one conduit (4) for washing and sanitising fluids, entirely located outside of said handling device (2) and a dispensing nozzle (5) attached directly to a free end of the conduit (4), said dispensing nozzle (5) being configured to be joined to an adjustable end (6) of the at least one handling device (2) for washing and sanitising said chamber and the containers contained therein.

Inventors:
TREBBI, Claudio (Via Emilia 428-442, Ozzano dell'Emilia Italy, 40064, IT)
GABUSI, Gabriele (Via Emilia 428-442, Ozzano dell'Emilia Italy, 40064, IT)
Application Number:
EP2017/068658
Publication Date:
February 01, 2018
Filing Date:
July 24, 2017
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
I.M.A. INDUSTRIA MACCHINE AUTOMATICHE S.P.A. (VIA EMILIA 428-442, OZZANO DELL'EMILIA BOLOGNA, 40064, IT)
International Classes:
B08B3/02; B08B9/00; B25J11/00; B67C3/00; B05B13/04; B08B5/02
Foreign References:
JP2012116495A2012-06-21
EP2218521A22010-08-18
DE102010045269A12012-03-15
EP0374586A11990-06-27
DE202007006113U12007-07-12
JP2012116495A2012-06-21
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PAGLIA, Pietro (Via Emilia 428-442, Ozzano dell'Emilia Italy, 40064, IT)
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Claims:
CLAIMS

1. Machine for filling bottles, cartridges, syringes and the like, generally defined as containers, the machine comprising a chamber with an inlet and outlet for containers and at least one intermediate operating station in which the containers are subjected to specific processing, characterised in that it comprises at least one handling device (2) with several degrees of freedom, automatically controlled and reprogrammable and at least one conduit (4) for washing and sanitising fluids, entirely located outside of said handling device (2) and a dispensing nozzle (5) attached directly to a free end of the conduit (4), said dispensing nozzle (5) being configured to be joined to an adjustable end (6) of the at least one handling device (2) for washing and sanitising said chamber and the containers contained therein.

2. Machine according to claim 1 , wherein said at least one conduit (4) has a flexible portion protruding inside said chamber, said dispensing nozzle (5) having shape and dimensions matching to those of clamping elements (7) arranged at the adjustable end (6) of said handling device (2), so that a removable coupling between said dispensing nozzle (5) and said clamping elements (7) is achieved.

3. Machine according to claim 2, wherein said flexible portion of the conduit (4) protrudes into said chamber from an upper wall of the chamber, from above the handling device (2).

4. Machine according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the at least one conduit (4) is stably coupled to the handling device (2), with said dispensing nozzle (5) joined to the adjustable end (6) of said handling device (2).

5. Machine according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein at least one conduit (4) comprises an automatic valve unit (8) for

5 controlling the flow of washing and sanitising fluids.

6. Machine according to claim 5, wherein the at least one handling device (2) and said valve units (8) are controlled by a control and management processor (9).

7. Machine according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein 10 the least one handling device (2) is coupled to at least two dispensing nozzles (5) attached directly to a free end of a respective conduits (4).

8. Machine according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein said washing and sanitising fluids are selected from water, water vapour, hydrogen peroxide, hydrogen peroxide vapours, solvents, i s solvent vapours, ozone-containing gas mixtures, liquid mixtures, gas mixtures and similar substances.

9. Machine according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the at least one handling device (2) is an anthropomorphic robot.

10. Machine according to any one the preceding claims, wherein 20 said handling device (6) is secured to a frame (3) of the machine (1 ).

Description:
MACHINE FOR FILLING BOTTLES AND THE LIKE COMPRISING HANDLING DEVICE FOR WASHING AND SANITISING

This invention relates to a machine for filling bottles, cartridges, syringes and the like.

5 In the pharmaceutical sector, products and substances in liquid and/or powder form can be properly packaged in special containers, often suitable for containing a single dose, in order to facilitate their administration to patients.

Such products and substances are therefore packaged in specific

10 bottles, vials, cartridges (such as, for example, carpules used in

syringes intended for the administration of local anaesthetics), syringes (such as ready-to-use syringes used for many miscellaneous applications) and similar products.

Known procedures for filling containers such as bottles, cartridges, i s syringes and the like require the provision of tubs containing suitable

nests within which the containers are neatly arranged.

The tubs, nests and containers are of a standard type, manufactured by their suppliers, generally differing from those used for filling and constituting the first dimensional and structural requirement 20 necessary for filling and sealing machines.

Known types of machines involving the picking of the nest, within which many empty, sterile containers are stored, from its tub and its transfer to an operating area where at least one single container is taken at a time, the container is filled with the specific substance

25 required and its opening is sealed to isolate the contents from the outside environment.

The handling of the nests is normally carried out by multi-axis handling devices, which take them from a conveyor belt and transfer them, from time to time, to a specific operating area (where the filling, weighing 5 or sealing, etc. is to be performed).

The multi-axis handling devices have multiple grooves, sites and undercuts where dust and residues that are difficult to remove can accumulate.

It is, however, essential that all parts of the machine used for 10 packaging drugs can be easily and fully subjected to cleaning and sanitising procedures.

Known types of machines provide for the possibility for staff to access the inside of the machine, using appropriate protective sleeves, to perform cleaning procedures. The precision of such procedures is i s often insufficient and does not enable the complete removal of dust and residues, ensuring the proper sanitisation of the chamber of the machines, in which the container-filling procedures are carried out. JP 2012 1 16495 describes a filling device in which a robot is used to carry out washing procedures. This robot has a conduit placed at least

20 partially inside the robot and the latter is equipped with a spray nozzle.

This configuration of the known procedure makes it difficult to clean the washing conduit and also complicates the procedures for replacing the washing conduit.

The main aim of this invention is to resolve the problems mentioned 25 above, by proposing a machine for filling bottles, cartridges, syringes and the like, suitable for automatically performing cleaning and sanitising procedures, without the need for staff to intervene from the outside.

Within the scope of this function, one of the purposes of this invention 5 is to propose a machine for filling bottles, cartridges, syringes and the like, that do not require any access to the operating chamber of instruments, tools and/or staff to carry out cleaning and sanitising procedures.

Another purpose of this invention is to propose a machine for filling 10 bottles, cartridges, syringes and the like that enables short-term cleaning procedures to be performed on a regular basis, without requiring long machine shut-down times.

A further purpose of this invention is to create a relatively simple, practical, safe-to-use and cost-effective machine for filling bottles, i s cartridges, syringes and the like.

This aim and these purposes are achieved by a machine for filling bottles, cartridges, syringes and the like, generally defined as containers, in accordance with claim 1 .

Additional features and advantages of this invention will be further 20 detailed in the description of a preferred, but not exclusive, form of execution of the machine for filling bottles, cartridges, syringes and the like according to the invention, illustrated in the accompanying drawings, by way of a non-limiting example, in which:

Figure 1 is a cross-sectional side view of a portion of the machine for 25 filling bottles, cartridges, syringes and the like, according to the invention, in a first operational configuration;

Figure 2 is a cross-sectional side view of the portion shown in figure 1 in a second operational configuration;

Figure 3 is a cross-section side view of the portion shown in figure 1 5 in a third operational configuration;

Figure 4 is an axonometric view of a possible portion of the machine for filling bottles, cartridges, syringes and the like, according to the invention in a third operational configuration.

With specific reference to these figures, the number 1 generally refers 10 to a machine for filling bottles, cartridges, syringes and the like.

Generally, the machine 1 can be suitable for carrying out all the procedures related to filling containers, such as bottles, cartridges, syringes, vials, carpules and the like.

These procedures may require cleaning each container, weighing i s (before and after filling), sealing (with specific caps or other means of closure) and the provision of fastening rings for the closure caps. It is already specified that the machine 1 may also carry out just one of the procedures mentioned, as it may carry out other procedures, as required by the specific type of container that needs to be processed. 20 The machine 1 , according to this invention, comprises a chamber with an inlet and outlet, through which the containers flow into the chamber; the chamber also comprises an intermediate operational area in which the containers are subjected to specific processing procedures, such as those listed above.

25 The machine 1 , according to this invention, comprises at least one handling device 2 with several degrees of freedom, automatically controlled and reprogrammable. The handling device 2 is preferably secured to a frame 3 of the machine 1 .

The machine 1 also comprises at least one conduit 4 for washing and 5 sanitising fluids.

The conduit 4 is entirely located outside of the handling device 2 and has a dispensing nozzle 5 directly attached to its free end.

The technical advantages of this invention lie specifically in the fact that the dispensing nozzle 5 is configured to be joined to an adjustable 10 end 6 of the handling device 2 for washing and sanitising the chamber and the containers contained therein.

In practice, the conduit 4 is not even partially integrated in the handling device 2, as the conduit 4 and the dispensing nozzle 5 are completely independent of the handling device,

i s Therefore, it is easy to change the conduit 4 and type of dispensing nozzle 5 when necessary. It is therefore sufficient to join the dispensing nozzle 5 to the adjustable end 6 of the handling device 2.

The conduit 4 is also easy to wash and replace, as it does not pass inside the handling device 2.

20 With specific reference to a realistic and practical solution that can be applied, represented, by way of a non-limiting example, by the attached figures, the at least one conduit 4 may include a flexible portion, protruding into the chamber.

Preferably, the dispensing nozzle 5 has shape and dimensions 25 matching to those of clamping elements 7 arranged at the adjustable end 6 of said handling device 2. 1 this way the dispensing nozzle 5 can be removed from the clamping elements 7 when required.

More specifically, it should be noted that the flexible portion of the conduit 4 can be conveniently projected into the chamber through its 5 upper wall (the ceiling of the chamber), from above the handling device 2.

In this way, it will be possible to have conduits 4 with a shorter flexible portion, thus reducing the overall costs and ensuring an optimal execution of washing and sanitising procedures.

10 According to an alternative solution, the conduit 4 can run along the outer surface of the handling device 2, ensuring that, in the articulated zone of the handling device 2, appropriate joining elements are provided.

The conduit 4 can comprise an automatic valve units 8 for controlling i s the flow of washing and sanitising fluids.

In order to ensure the optimal operation of the machine 1 according to the invention, at least one handling device 2 and the valve units 8 are controlled by a control and management processor 9.

Optionally, the handling device 2 can be coupled to at least two

20 dispensing nozzles 5 attached directly to a free end of a respective conduit 4. In other words, there are a first conduit with a first dispensing nozzle and a second conduit with a second dispensing nozzle, both the first and the second dispensing nozzles are coupled to the same adjustable end 6 of the handling device 2.

25 In this way, it will also be possible to dispense the fluid into very wide, solid corner, so that the handling device 2, by changing the direction of its adjustable end 6, can easily supply a jet of liquid within the chamber.

By way of example, the washing and sanitising fluids can preferably 5 be selected from water, water vapour, hydrogen peroxide, hydrogen peroxide vapours, solvents, solvent vapours, ozone-containing gas mixtures, liquid mixtures, gas mixtures and similar substances.

In order to ensure that the machine 1 can operate with any type of container, including containers received in a nest, it should be noted 10 that the handling device 2 can preferably be an anthropomorphic robot.

Anthropomorphic robots are highly versatile and allow for very simple change-over procedures, such as, for example, by merely reprogramming their work cycles.

i s At the same time, it should be noted that some anthropomorphic robots are equipped with appropriate sensors that also enable self- learning, further simplifying the start-up and execution of the procedures required by the machine 1 according to this invention. Advantageously, this invention resolves the problems outlined at the

20 beginning, by providing a machine 1 for filling bottles, cartridges, syringes and the like, suitable for automatically performing cleaning and sanitising procedures, without the need for staff to intervene. Effectively, the machine 1 for filling bottles, cartridges, syringes and the like does not require any access to the chamber by instruments,

25 tools and/or staff to carry out cleaning and sanitising procedures, as it can be automatically controlled.

Conveniently, the machine 1 , according to this invention, allows for short-term cleaning procedures to be carried out, which can be performed on a regular basis, without requiring long machine shut- down times.

This invention effectively provides a machine 1 for filling bottles, cartridges, syringes and the like, with a relatively simple, practical and cost-effective procedure: these features make the machine 1 , according to this invention, a safe-to-use innovation.