Ruth Mitchell

Firm has a lot of bottle

A small engineering firm has solved an international chemical company’s problem in checking bottles and containers for contamination.

Family-run Addington Engineers, based in Richmond, were called in when GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK) Barnard Castle plant needed to remove the airtight aluminium and plastic caps from bottles and phials.

The containers are randomly selected from the production line, to comply with rigorous testing standards.

The process had been carried out manually, but was proving laborious and could have led to potential claims of repetitive strain injury.

Addington created a solution to their problem - a cap-removing machine for the company, which can remove one cap a minute.

Craig Vine, Addington’s managing director, said: “It was a difficult one for GSK. They needed to remove the caps as efficiently as possible without damaging the phials and accessing the contents for these important tests.

“What we came up with was a machine that was programmed to slice through caps and remove them in a clean but non-sterile environment. All the operative has to do is insert a phial into the nest and close the guard to start the cycle.”

The process from design of the machine to installation took about six to eight weeks. Mr Vine believes that with small design adjustments, the cap remover could be adapted to help other pharmaceutical companies with similar problems.

Addington, established 40 years ago and employing four staff, specialises in designing and commissioning custom built machinery. Its clients come from the pharmaceutical, food packaging, electrical, chemical and automotive industries in the UK and Europe.

Mr Vine added: “In fact, anyone who needs to outsource to overcome those knotty little problems that are blighting their production processes.”

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