Innomech delivers end-of-line test breakthrough for medical manufacturer


15-03-2013

Ely-based GB Innomech has designed and delivered in just 14 weeks a sophisticated, high performance end-of-line 'leak and flow' testing system for Molecular Products. The new machine is three times faster, more accurate, easier to use and requires less maintenance than the machine it replaces.

Essex-based Molecular Products produces and fills the plastic canisters with medical grade soda lime for use in anaesthetic and ventilation machines, as well as re-breathing apparatus for the emergency services.  Each filled canister then needs to be pressure and flow tested to confirm the integrity of the unit and to ensure there are no blockages in the inlet/outlet tubes or through the device.

One of the challenges with the previous test system was that canisters tended to jam when coupled to the machine for testing leading to delays and reduced throughput.  Innomech has overcome this by using a novel clamping mechanism with a ‘spongy donut’ material that requires near-zero product insertion and removal force by the operator.  Easy to change dust traps have also been incorporated to prevent particulate matter from contaminating the machine and interfering with the hermetic seal that is essential during the test.  A simple touch screen interface shows clear pass or fail status and independent twin channels allow product to be loaded and unloaded on one station while tests are being performed on the other.

Innomech and Molecular Products have also developed and designed in a new, more accurate leak test, using a ‘direct differential’ methodology that gives an absolute leak measurement in ml per minute.  This approach is not only much more sensitive than its predecessor for identifying manufacturing problems but also enables Molecular Products to offers its customers even greater product quality assurance.

“Innomech was briefed to double our test throughput with a new machine while eliminating some significant operational problems with our previous system.  However what they have delivered is a system to take our production capacity to an even higher level and with added features making it more suited for a demanding 24/7 manufacturing environment,” said Martin Sexton, engineering manager at Molecular Products.

“Innomech prides itself on developing breakthrough performance systems but is used to clients not allowing us to talk about the work or to add our logo or any branding to the final machine.  In this case, Molecular Products was so pleased with the result they wanted everyone to know and specifically requested we badge the machine with an Innomech nameplate,” said Tim Mead, commercial director at Innomech [shown in the image with the new system].

This is the first system Innomech has developed for Molecular Products, although the two companies are now working closely on additional machine concepts for other product ranges.

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