The pharmaceutical industry in the United States is big – really big. In 2016, this market was valued at over $446 billion dollars, with the US holding over 45% of the world’s global pharmaceutical market share. The industry will only continue to grow in size and importance as the world’s population increases – and, consequently, as more medications and pharmaceutical developments are required.
This growth also has significant implications for the compressed air industry, as air compressors are essential in powering a wide variety of pharmaceutical applications.
How is Compressed Air Used in the Pharmaceutical Industry?
In the world of pharmaceuticals, oil-free air is vital to the manufacturing of medicine and related products. The reason is simple: the air must meet the highest purity levels possible to ensure that no contamination of the end-product occurs. In turn, this prevents any type of recalls, downtime in production, or a lasting, negative impact on a manufacturer’s reputation due to a contaminated product.
Capsule, Caplet, and Tablet Manufacturing. From mixing, hardening, and granulation to drying, pressing, coating, and packaging – compressed air comes into contact with medicine at virtually every step in the manufacturing process.
Fermentation. Fermenters are aerated by sterile air. If that sterile air is contaminated, the end product is contaminated.
Bottling, Canning, and Packaging. Medicine can be packaged in a variety of ways, including blister packs, medicine bottles, lightweight plastic containers, and cartons. Depending on the product, compressed air is utilized to clean and remove moisture from these packages. (Please note: industrial vacuum pumps are also essential to the packaging process.)
Instrumentation Air. The tools that are used throughout the manufacturing process are fueled by compressed air! Because air from the tools comes into contact with the product, it must be pure and oil-free.
Drying. Medicines are dried in order to remove any type of solvents or water from the product. This process is typically completed with vacuum pumps, which assist in evaporating liquids from the solids.
Wastewater Treatment. Water is used at various stages in the applications, and this water must be treated before (and after!) use to prevent contamination. Blowers are a top choice for treating wastewater.
Interested in learning about Atlas Copco’s air compressor solutions for the pharmaceutical industry? Discover more at www.atlascopco.com/air-usa!