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23rd August 2001

Home > Technology Trends > Full Story

Raw material storage: More than clean environs

Proper storage of raw material is no longer confined to good and clean environment. It includes various related aspects like transportation and handling of materials, building structures, lighting, atmosphere amongst others, says R Kedareshwar

THE process of manufacturing starts from inwarding of raw material from approved vendors either from within the country or from outside the country. Bulk raw materials like paracetamol, ibu, sulpha TMP sugar etc. come in trucks in case of local sources and in containers if they are imported. Local materials coming in the trucks are received in the receiving bay consisting of covered area under which truck is parked and the material is moved out either manually or with a unloading conveyor of cantilever type with adjustable height, from there it moves down to receiving bay.

In the receiving bay either the containers are manually cleaned with a vacuum cleaner or passed through the cleaning station with air shower or connected a central vacuum cleaning system to remove the external dust on the carton or pack.

Transportation of materials

In case of palletised material, it is picked by hydraulic pallet truck or with forklift and lowered and moved to the receiving bay. Here worth noting is Lilly’s driver-less train for transporting material from receiving dock to staging bay. Further AGVs (automated guided vehicles) are adopted to move the material from staging bay to the designated shelf in the rack by programming in the computer. These units operate without any driver, to avoid mistakes during inwarding barcode or matrix code is adopted extensively to check each container at entry and feed into computer.

As the material is moved from the unloading point to receiving bay to quarantine area, controlled environment starts thus necessitating protections like rodent traps, air curtains and pesto-o-flash units that are installed, monitored and maintained in this area. Entry doors in these areas are either normal rolling shutters which are opened and closed manually operating the with worm drive mechanism or recent version of rolling shutters with minimum number of joints and made out of pre-coated and pre-painted sheets. These new types of shutters have facility for cordless remote control for opening or closing down. A tubular rubber gasket at the bottom ensures gap-free closure, thus restricting entry of rodents and crawling insects especially during night times in the monsoon (when air curtains are off).

Next choice, now available is flexible PVC rapid auto roll doors with full width clear vision panel available with various choices of activation like push buttons, induction floor loops, radar motion detectors, PE sensor, pull-cords and remote control. These modern shutters does not need any lubrication in the guides unlike in conventional ones (grease applied in the guides attracts lot dust and becomes an eyesore at the point of material entry).

Clean environment

Pesto-o-flash units need to be located properly to attract and kill the flying insects entering into the controlled area. These units need to be regularly monitored for extent of insects being killed and for lamp life as the life of the lamp is limited to six to eight thousand hours of effective operation.

During unloading rolling shutters are kept open, so it is preferable to have flexible ribbed PVC curtains with proper overlap after rolling shutters. It is always advisable to connect the receiving bay with a telephone to main stores to avoid outside personnel like truck driver’s entry into the controlled area. Installation of access controls at all entries to store restricts the entry of unauthorised personnel.

Its very essential to have a bitumen road or cement concrete floor on the land adjoining the unloading bay to control the dust level inside the receiving bay. Inside the stores floor, area needs to be hard faced either with ironite concrete or vacuum dewatered concrete floor or concrete with floor hardeners to be employed to withstand movement of forklifts with heavy loads. This avoids chipping of floor otherwise, resulting in pits on constant usage further becoming a source of dust.

Prefabricated structures

Moving on to walls and ceiling, usually the brick masonry walls with plastering and painting to a smooth finish or prefabricated and pre-coated steel sheets are available for walls and roof. This type of prefabricated sheets and structures are very light thus facilitating very long spans without any intermittent supports enabling effective usage of available space.

One should remember that this type of prefabricated material is light so this cannot be employed if material is stacked against walls further one needs to be cautious while selecting the roof with trusses and purlins, as the space between these members and the roof sheet is major concern, these spaces are difficult to access for cleaning due to their location at high ceiling level and are vulnerable for collection of cobwebs.

So appropriate covers are to be provided for trusses and purlins which should be easily cleanable. In spite of higher cost, for the shear reason of difficulty in maintaining (where actives are stored), a simple RCC roof with roof-to-wall coved joints should still be a good consideration in our country. This also facilitates for construction of first and higher floors in future.

Adequate lighting

Lighting in the storage areas should facilitate the operating staff to read the labels on the container before moving for dispensing. Fluorescent lamps (tube lights), MV lamps, metal halide luminaries can be considered. Fluorescent lamps light reach is generally upto 12 ft. So, to fix the fluorescent lamps at these levels, one needs to suspend the laminar from the ceiling, which is the major concern for collection of dust and accumulation of cobwebs.

Second option of M V lamps, reach is high and can be fixed to ceiling without suspending but during every power interruption, to switch back and glow to normal level it takes minimum ten minutes. Next option is low bay metal halide luminaries of indoor variety can be fixed to ceiling. It has good reach up to 15 to 17 ft. and highly energy efficient compared to M.V. lamp, but these fixtures also do not switch on instantly in case of power interruption. So a combination of fluorescent lamps and low bay metal halide fixture gives good option ensuring minimum amount of lighting during power interruption and very good lighting level.

The writer R Kedareshwar is with Medreich Sterilab Ltd, Bangalore


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