Capsule design and manufacturing
Guido Van Aerschot, Sander Goethals and Erwin Van Eyndhoven are all providing on-site services for Verhaert Consulting at het R&D Department of Capsugel (now a Lonza company) in Bornem. Capsugel’s core business is empty capsule design and manufacturing. In addition, they also design equipment for (mostly) pharmaceutical companies allowing them to make full use of all technologies in capsule filling. This is done in the R&D department, which is giving worldwide support for the 13 Capsugel factories in the US, Mexico, France, Japan.
Guido Van Aerschot, age 63, joined Verhaert Consulting as a freelancer in 2008. He has been proudly working as a designer for over 40 years, 11 of which have been at Capsugel.
As a mechanical design team member, I had the opportunity to work on a lot of very interesting projects. We drive to constantly improve the quality and capacity of the equipment. Working at Capsugel also gives me the opportunity to develop high quality machinery using the newest technologies. The design group has two major areas of expertise, the continuous development of the HCM (hard capsule manufacturing) equipment, and on the other hand the Licaps equipment (Liquid filled hard capsules filling and sealing equipment).
Let me give you some numbers. Firstly, the capacity of a single machine has almost doubled over the last 15 years, the Bornem facility, for example, produces about 150.000.000 gelatin capsules daily, this seven days a week non-stop. Secondly, the Licaps equipment developed is able to fill empty capsules with powders, liquids, and even with smaller sized capsules at a high speed and accuracy. These machines can be sold to external pharmaceutical groups, as lab equipment or as production facilities.
The interesting thing for me is that I am involved in both groups, so to me this job is the greatest job ever. There is a lot of variety and the technology used is always up to date. Furthermore, all areas in machine construction are touched. On top of that, we also do project engineering tasks. Following up on these designs is also part of the job, as all equipment is built by Belgian equipment manufacturers, all outside Capsugel. They, of course, need all the drawings, necessary files, bom’s, etc. to produce and buy the parts and assemblies we have developed. After a prototype has been screened, a small series of machines is produced and delivered to different plants worldwide. By doing this, Capsugel affiliates can get experience to work with the new developed equipment. In addition, small adaptations can be made based on the users’ feedback before launching production batches of these new units. What a GREAT job it is!
Sander Goethals has 10 years of experience as a freelance mechanical designer at Verhaert Consulting. Last year he joined the Capsugel’s R&D design team. He’s very enthusiastic about the team and his role in it.
As a mechanical designer, I support the R&D design team with the machine developments from scratch to delivery. With a real production mindset, we strive to make things better and faster. Recently, I redesigned a production line submodule, an old mechanical system typically driven by the main machine shaft. The result was a servo driven solution showing an increased performance and flexibility. The quality of the design is shown in its simplicity, also thanks to many ideas from my colleagues. It’s a great opportunity for everyone working within this R&D team, there’s an inherent understanding of team play. That’s how you build success!
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