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Isolator (C) Weiss Pharmatechnik GmbH

Posts tagged Vacuum conveying

Handling of critical and toxic powders – Containment

Isolator (C) Weiss Pharmatechnik GmbH

Handling of critical and toxic powders – Containment

The requirements and demands for suitable containment solutions have greatly increased in industry in recent years. For example, more potent and more effective active ingredients are constantly being produced in the pharmaceutical industry which require closed and dust-free processes. The handling of these dangerous substances demands a high level of safety to protect the employees, the product and the production environment. In the past, the employees had often been only equipped with a full-body protection suit and more or less worked in an open process. In doing so, the risk of contamination of the product and the work environment was very high. Today the process, depending on the application, is either integrated in an isolator (protective cover) or executed as a sealed and closed process facility to ensure a dust-free and safe work environment. Vacuum conveyor systems are especially suited for assignments in high containment due to the procedures in negative pressure ranges.

It Depends on the Product

The requirements for containment are always product specific and must therefore be redefined for every product. Internationally as well as in general use, the terms OEL level or OEB class are used. In the case of OEL (Occupational
Exposure Level), the focus is on the maximum concentration levels permissible in a work environment. The specific OEL value and the product features (granule size and fluidity) play a significant role here in the design of the process unit. Not every containment system is suitable for every product.

Pressure from the Authorities

Other reasons for a growing demand of containment solutions are guidelines and regulations. The REACH Regulation established a chemical guideline for all of Europe that addresses a classification of hazardous and harmful substances. REACH stands for the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals. The manufacturers of chemicals and the operations of processing plants are then obligated to disclose information about how hazardous or harmful a substance is and how the user should handle it in order to protect oneself.

In a high containment project, a closer and more open cooperation than usual between the company and users involved is required. For a pharmaceutical manufacturer in Switzerland, a PPC250 type vacuum conveyor was integrated in a special containment facility (Weiss Pharmatechnik GmbH) for the filling and transferring of high potency ingredients and various excipients. The objective of this project was to develop a closed facility concept that fulfils the required OEB class 4.

Container loading under high containment conditions – © Weiss Pharmatechnik GmbH

The transferring and filling facility essentially consists of a transfer compartment for the purpose of the products, an upstream material lock for the insertion of the container, a filling compartment with integrated PPC 250 as well as a container station with a docked double flap system for filling the containers with the product.

The containers with the ingredients are first positioned over a material lock in the transfer compartment. Using the integrated gloves in the transfer compartment, the operator opens the containers and, by means of a manual suction lance connected to the PPC 250, sucks the material found in the adjacent filling compartment. From here, the transferred ingredient is emptied into the docked container via the double flap. The container is situated on a weighing system to determine the required amounts. The emptied containers are fed through the side walls via foil ports.

The harmless pharmaceutical excipients are sucked in through a second suction lance directly from the supply container outside the unit. The entire containment system fulfilled the required OEB 4 demands during the filling and the subsequent WIP cleaning and is suitable for dust-explosive powder (conforms to ATEX).

Design Limit 1 µg/m3 (OEB 5)

A classic application of vacuum conveyors in the pharmaceutical industry is the unloading of fluid bed granulators and the subsequent filling of a downstream sieve mill. One of our pharmaceutical clients asked if our PPC vacuum conveyor is suitable for a design limit of 1 μg/m3. In order to be able to form an idea of these minimal dust concentrations, you can use the following example: A small grain of commercial sugar that we use in our morning coffee weighs ca. 0.6 mg. The six-hundredth portion of this sugar grain is allowed to appear in one cubic meter of air within a maximum of 8 hours so that a risk for the employees does not exist.

It is not enough to be sealed

A sealed and closed process was required for this high containment assignment that should forgo the protective cover in the form of an isolator. In order to be able to fulfil these high demands, the hygienic PPC 350 vacuum conveyor that is free of dead space was further developed and augmented with a second filter level (HEPA H14) and suitable isolation valves.

However, to be sealed is only a requirement for a complete high containment system. A second essential feature is the cleanability of the entire surface in contact with the product including the ports to the other process facilities in the closed WIP (washing in place) procedure.

In the first cleaning step, the entire facility is flooded with water; this especially applies to the contaminated conveyor hoses and process lines. Wetting the surfaces that come into contact with the product first serves to pre-wash the separator tanks, filters and valves. Afterwards, the intensive cleaning begins with rotating nozzles and the repeated washing of the stainless-steel filter that is used as the primary filter here. The vacuum line after the primary filter and the second filter level (HEPA H14) could also be contaminated and is likewise cleaned. The WIP procedure executed here is very individual and depends strongly on the respective product, on the cleaning agents used and, of course, on the process.

Dust Emission Measurements as Proof

Which containment level a process facility now satisfies can only be proved with a measurement of the emitted particle. In a prepared clean room, the PPC350-CIP was tested under comparable conditions as in the later production. The test material used was a very fine-grained and dusty naproxen-lactose mixture that is very well suited for such tests and is frequently used. The test material was located in a transport vessel (IBC) that was docked through a double flap system on the feed hopper. The PPC350-CIP was mobile in a frame and likewise connected with an empty IBC by a double flap.

An expert team selected several statistically process relevant measuring points for the test and placed the permitted air sensors with test filters for these measuring sequences there. These primarily record the situation in the direct surroundings of the measurement points while the person-related measuring point displays the cumulative, average burden of the operating personnel. The operator supervised the process during the measuring and changed the filled and emptied IBCs here. The conveying process was performed three times for a representative result, and each individual process was measured separately. The measurement itself was completed by special compact filter systems that were perfused by a defined amount of air with the aid of a small vacuum generator.

The measurement of the particle concentration not only occurred during the conveyor process exclusively in the IBC change but also during the cleaning and the subsequent disassembly of the vacuum conveyor.


The evaluation of the particle measurements in the laboratory yielded that the PPC350-CIP lay under the design limit of 1 μg/m3 in all three process steps and is therefore most suitable for this high containment application.

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Containment #OEB5 #CriticalSubstance #ToxicSubstance #BulkHandling #PowderHandling #VacuumConveying #VolkmannGmbH

Drum discharge station

Drum emptying - remove bulk goods and powder from drums

Drum emptying – remove bulk goods and powder from drums

In some situations the pick-up of bulk product is from drums or barrels and depending on the product this can be easy or more difficult to do. Products flow easily or be strongly adhesive. We have developed various solutions to empty drums almost completely and without a lot of operator intervention.

Drum discharge station
suction lance in barrel

The barrel is mounted in a holding station and is tipped by hand. To suck the product out of the barrel a suction lance is inserted from above. The drum emptying device is adapted to the product and the task situation. Drum emptying where a liner is present is then also possible.

As the product is sucked out of the drum by vacuum conveying, the suction lance sinks down into the drum under gravity and thus gradually empties the contents. The process is supported with a vibrator, which is attached to the station below the platform, in order to help extract difficult-to-flow products.

barrel equipped with a ventilation filter and a sealing sleeve

For products that tend to be very dusty or should be contained as much as possible, it is possible to mount a corresponding lid on the barrel. This is equipped with a ventilation filter and a sealing sleeve and thus prevents dust from escaping.

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#DrumDumpers #DrumEmptying #EmptyingDrums #BulkMaterialHandling #PowderHandling #VacuumConveying #VolkmannGmbH

Weighing and dosing

Weighing and dosing

Weighing and dosing bulk products into a process

It is often necessary to weigh and dose powder, amongst other bulk materials, into a process. Let’s take the addition of sugar into a mixer as an example from the food industry.

According to the recipe, a total of 150 kg of sugar must be added to the mixer. The conveyor system used requires ten conveying cycles of 15 kg each. Depending on the design of the system, delivery rates of up to 4 t / h are also possible. The accuracy of the system is 99 – 99.7% of the target weight to be achieved.

Weighing and dosing bulk products

The removal from different pick-up locations is possible as well as the adjustment and storage of recipes. A quick intervention in the process is possible via the device control’s intuitive touch display. In addition, the entire process can of course also be controlled fully automatically.

The Volkmann CONWEIGH is a combined conveying and dosing system and is usually used for adding quantities from 2 kg upwards per unit.

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#VacuumConveyorSystem #Hygienic #Dosing #Food #CrystalSugar #Vanillin #PowderedSugar #ExplosionRisk #Powder #Granules # Bulk #ExProtection #MinimumIgnitionEnergy #MIE

Feed bagged goods in the process

Feed bagged goods in the process

Feed large quantities of bagged goods in to the process

There are many processes in which bulk products need to be introduced in large quantities from sacks and bags. For example, in to a mixer or stirred tank, this is often the case in the food or chemical industries.

RNT 180 with lumpbreaker and conveyor belt

The sacks are loaded on to the conveyor belt which transports these to the loading station activated by a foot switch, where the sacks are then opened and emptied. A waste chute makes it possible to dispose of the empty bags laterally into a waste bag compactor.

To help reduce the dust inside while loading there is the option to either connect the product loading station up to a local extraction system or to have a dedicated vacuum conveyor for dust removal.

lump breaker

If the product tends to form lumps during storage, a lump breaker can be connected under the feed hopper. This crushes lumps up to about fist-sized lumps.

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#BaggedGoods #EmptySackCompressors #ConveyorBelt #LumpBreaker #Food #Chemistry #Lumps #Agglomerates #Volkmann #VacuumConveyors #VacuumConveying #RNT180 #DustExtraction

Metal powder handling

Alu+Edelstahl Pulver

The correct handling of powders within the additive manufacturing industry

Whether it is metals or plastics there are numerous different powder handling tasks to be solved within the Additive Manufacturing (AM) industry.

However, for various reasons, metal powders represent a greater challenge for powder handling. This involves the powder supply to the 3D printers the recovery of unbound material and its reclassification and recovery (recycling) for reuse.

With the Volkmann PowTReX, the combination of the process steps of vacuum conveying, controlled sieve dosing and ultrasonic screening represents a compact platform to solve these demanding tasks.

Printer and PowTReX

In connection with the correct container and container handling, safe, sealed and – if necessary – inert powder handling can be achieved. This means that not only stainless steel powders, also aluminum and other sensitive metal powders, for example, can be safely handled.

You can find more information HERE: Additive Manufacturing

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#Volkmann #PowTReX #MetalPowder #StainlessSteel #Aluminium #3Dprinting #Classification #Recovery #VacuumConveying #PowderHandling #AdditiveManufacturing #Inert

Pneumatic vacuum conveying

Pneumatic vacuum conveying

ATEX and explosion protection for pneumatic vacuum conveying of powders and bulk materials

In recent years, the requirements for the transportation of solids have increased significantly. Especially when used in EX areas.

Since mechanical conveying systems often reach their limits here and can represent an ignition source in various ways, the focus is on pneumatic conveyor systems.

The so-called vacuum conveying system, offers particular advantages here. The free from ignition source design and construction allows the use with dusts with very low minimum ignition energies (MIE).

A low conveying speed is achieved by the plug conveying. Based on the ignition source-free design, simple additional features also enable use in the gas EX area.

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#ExArea #EX #GasEx #MinimumIgnitionEnergy # VacuumConveying #ATEX #IgnitionSource # PlugExtraction

Double big bag emptying station

Double big bag emptying station

Double big bag emptying station for limited space unloading areas

Restricted unloading area solution: With this project a room with limited space has allowed us to develop a big bag emptying station with which two big bags can be emptied simultaneously.

The big bags are hung in harnesses and lifted using a winch. The mobile docking stations are pushed under the big bags and are equipped with devices for low-dust connection for emptying of the big bags.

With two feeding adapters per docking station, the material to be conveyed is fed into the subsequent processes via a total of four VS250 vacuum conveyors, in this case loading four mixers.

The product unloaded and conveyed is sodium bicarbonate.

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Double big bag station with winches and mobile docking stations.
Reduced height for use within limited space areas.

#Volkmann #BigBagStation #Dischargingstation #Ropewinch # VS250 #Powderhandling #Dockingstation # Dust-freeconveying # Vacuumconveying #ATEX

Volkmann Empty Sack Compactor

Volkmann Empty Sack Compactor

Volkmann emptying station for bagged goods

  • with partly automated container feeding and dust extraction
  • optimised for the use with vacuum conveyors
  • NEW: Now also with empty sack compactor

The dust-free handling of solids is nowadays more than ever in the focus when processing bulk materials. Occupational safety and hygiene requirements must be observed, explosion protection according to ATEX must be adhered to. Volkmann solutions offer safety in the handling of bulk materials. The range of the RNT product loading stations for bagged goods was supplemented by an empty sack compactor which includes a dust free connection to the product loading station and shares its integrated dust extraction.

The emptied containers/sacks are collected in foil and mechanically compacted. Depending on the container size, the collection volume of the empty sack compactor is sufficient for ca. 40 – 100 units. The product loading station and empty sack compactor are entirely made of stainless steel and are completely manufactured in our company. We happily make custom systems. Volkmann develops imaginative solutions for the handling of various bulk materials for the chemical, pharmaceutical and food industry.

  • Vacuum conveyors: Designs according to industry, hygiene and pharmaceutical/eGMP standards
  • Product loading stations for sacks, big bags, drums, IBCs
  • Weighing and dosing systems for bulk material handling
  • Stationary and mobile lifting columns for vacuum conveyors
  • Consulting, planning and manufacturing from a single source

Intelligent Compact Control for Vacuum Conveyors

Intelligent Compact Control for Vacuum Conveyors

With the new ET-Advanced, Volkmann provides the users of vacuum conveyors with a modern and intelligent electropneumatic compact control. The control ensures the smooth operation of the vacuum conveying system and evaluates thereby up to four incoming signals from level sensors and one local start signal.

Operating mode 1:

Automatic suction cycle, determination of the filling level in the vacuum conveyor, adjustment of the suction time no longer necessary

Operating mode 2:

Monitoring of receiving container, automatic operation of the vacuum conveyor, feeding of material into receiving vessel with min or min-max sensors.

Operating mode 3: Monitoring of collection point

Operation of the vacuum conveyor only in presence of material at the collection point, status signal in case of fault

Adjustable times are:

  • Discharging time vacuum pump start delay
  • Suction time
  • Pipe emptying time (pipe emptying valve in conveyor suction line)
  • Delay of filter cleaning pulse
  • Discharging valve adjustable with NO/NC

Volkmann develops imaginative solutions for the handling of various bulk materials for the chemical, pharmaceutical and food industry.

  • Vacuum conveyors: Designs according to industry, hygiene and pharmaceutical/eGMP standards
  • Product loading stations for sacks, big bags, drums, IBCs
  • Weighing and dosing systems for bulk material handling
  • Stationary and mobile lifting columns for vacuum conveyors
  • Consulting, planning and manufacturing from a single source


Just in case – UHU!

Just in case – UHU!

There is probably hardly anyone who has never used a UHU product. The glue in the black and yellow tube has become one of the best-known brand products of our time. UHU develops and produces high-quality adhesives for children and parents, but also for do-it- yourselfers and professional applications in trades and industry. The development of ever better and safer products with an eye on future generations is a challenge and commitment in one.


Cleanliness and safety

Most the products are manufactured in the industrial premises in Germany, located right at the centre of the small town of Bühl at the foot of the Black Forest. Cleanliness and safety are hence matter of course in the production. The creation of adhesives generally calls for a variety of solids and solvents, which are combined in a mixer or batching tank. To further increase the cleanliness and safety, UHU decided to use Volkmann GmbH's INEX vacuum conveyors in 2007, and hence in favour of a sealed introduction of solids to the mixer.

What were the decisive reasons for using the INEX systems?

Volkmann had already opted for an ATEX certification of their vacuum conveyors in keeping with Directive 94/4/EC in early 2002, which generally permits them to be employed in potentially explosive, dusty atmospheres. Where potentially explosive gas atmospheres are concerned, standard vacuum conveyors are turned into a type- tested INEX system by an additional inertization using protective gas (nitrogen). This allows the safe and dust-free introduction of solids into containers that are pre-filled with solvents (zone 0). One essential element of the certified INEX vacuum conveyor system for this is the purely pneumatic control, which guarantees the reliability of the process by means of various safety queries such as "enough nitrogen provided for inertization", for example. In addition, this INEX control unit can be directly installed in zone 1 or also be used in a mobile fashion on a driving carriage. Besides the safe introduction, this conveyance process also offers the additional advantage that dust and gas emissions are avoided, thus protecting the health of the workforce and ensuring that the production stays clean.

Process safety thanks to vapour barrier

Rising vapours and fumes can cause problems when mixers are filled, and are able to reduce the safety of the process. The shut-off flaps installed to separate the INEX vacuum conveyor from the mixer for introducing the solids into the process can be moistened by these rising vapours and fumes, leading to thick deposits of the solids and their getting stuck. Another frequent consequence is also that the filter inside the vacuum conveyor is moistened and becomes blocked. But the shut-off flap of the INEX system could be kept dry successfully by means of a nitrogen-operated vapour barrier which ensures uninterrupted and reliable operation.

Various installation situations on site

In grown production facilities, one will find highly varied installation situations where standard systems are often unusable. Height restrictions, oblique filler pipes and already provided system components often leave little room for new plant technologies. But given the fact that the entire engineering is performed by Volkmann in-house, and thanks to the high degree of self-production, the INEX vacuum conveyors could be successfully adapted to the various local installation situations of the mixers while also providing adequate access for operability and maintenance.

There can be many reasons for using Volkmann vacuum conveyor systems, as the UHU example illustrates. But one of the most important ones is certainly the close and partnership-based cooperation without which these various customized solutions would hardly be possible.

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