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Pharmaceutical businesses need the right kind of equipment infrastructure if they are to meet growing demand from the market. This is where solutions such as automatic vial filling machines can support pharma producers as they serve the needs of healthcare providers and the general public.

But are these machines really necessary? After all, sourcing and installing a vial filling machine — or a whole fleet of vial filling machines in the case of larger businesses — can be a significant expense. As organizations strive to become more cost-conscious, can they justify this kind of investment?

Investment is an appropriate word here. Implementing automated equipment and machinery really is an investment in the future, rather than simply an inconvenient expense. Vial filling equipment can shore up pharma businesses ahead of growth and expansion and can actively save money in the long term. Read on to learn more about the benefits of these pieces of equipment.

What is a vial filling machine?

An automatic vial filling machine is an important piece of equipment within the pharmaceutical design, manufacture and distribution chain. This machine takes a pharmaceutical product — generally a liquid material — and places this product in a vial so it’s ready for the next phase of the chain.

The machine may be deployed at the end of the production process, placing the pharmaceutical material into a vial to be ready for packaging, distribution and sale. However, it may also be deployed earlier in the process, perhaps for filling vials ahead of testing and quality control protocols or simply for filling containers with samples.

5 advantages of a pharmaceutical vial filling machine

There are many advantages to using a pharmaceutical vial filling machine when compared to the alternatives, such as relying on manual filling processes. Let’s take a look at some of the main benefits to businesses in this field.

  • Dose and volume consistency

In the United States, the Food and Drug Authority (FDA) oversees the production and distribution of prescription drugs, as well as other controlled substances. The FDA requires that all such products be clearly labeled and designated before they are released for sale or for general consumption and that dosages and volumes are clearly advertised on the packaging. This means pharma production companies must be very careful to ensure volumetric consistency when they are bottling and packaging their products.

This kind of consistency is difficult to achieve using only manual processes. A pharmaceutical vial filling machine, on the other hand, can be configured and assessed ahead of time, ensuring that only the properly mandated volume is added to each and every vial. Producers can be penalized heavily if they do not adhere to the FDA’s requirements, so this machine provides significant peace of mind for pharma manufacturers and distributors.

  • Reduced production costs

Manual procedures can be expensive for pharma producers. Not only do organizations need to divert working hours and resources to manual production tasks, but they also need to implement fixes and remedial action if mistakes and errors occur. Vial filling machines eliminate both of these additional costs, reducing the overall expense of running a production job.

Automated machines also free up valuable personnel and teams. These teams can then be deployed in other areas of the business — areas more suited to manual operation, such as research and development tasks as well as process monitoring and assessment.

  • Easier quality control processes

Vial filling machines achieve uniform consistency across all filling tasks. This means, whenever the machine is configured and set up ahead of a new production batch, your team can be assured that the results will be repeated again and again across all the vials that need to be filled.

This makes quality control much easier. The machine ensures that a reliable base level is achieved and that there are no inconsistencies even across high-volume jobs. Quality control teams simply need to check that the packaging and labeling are present and undamaged, then they can sign off on the latest batch. With fewer variables and less potential for mistakes, the entire quality control process becomes much more effective.

  • Rapid scalability

Order volumes may fluctuate over time. If a pharma producer is relying on manual processes, they may struggle to achieve the kind of flexibility and agility required to keep up with demand. In turn, they may fall behind in the market.

With automated processes and equipment, businesses will find it easier to step up production when required. This leads to a far more efficient and effective pharma production line, even at scale, ensuring that healthcare providers and pharmacists remain well-stocked all year round.

  • Shrinkage and loss protection

A pharma manufacturer and distributor exists in a unique ecosystem, providing critical products to the healthcare industry. However, they are still governed by the same market forces as any other type of business, which means they need to remain aware of their bottom line and keep costs low across the whole process.

Manual vial filling processes make it difficult to keep costs low. Materials are spilled or contaminated, and products become lost or damaged. This contributes to shrinkage, increasing the cost of each batch while eating into profits. Ingredients also need to be re-ordered from the supplier or re-produced in the plant itself, resulting in an inefficient supply chain. Automatic vial filling machines avoid this issue, reducing lost or damaged materials and maximizing the profits achieved across each and every batch.

A critical part of the pharma production line

Manual vial filling may be cost-effective and efficient at a very small scale, and low-level pharma producers may not feel the need to invest in an automatic vial filling machine. However, as order volumes begin to rise and businesses find themselves working with ever-larger batches, automatic filling equipment becomes invaluable. Without them, it becomes difficult to ensure a safe and reliable level of quality control in the pharma industry, and it becomes almost impossible to keep the cost of production at a manageable level.