Automated Batch Dispensing of Pharmaceutical Ingredients

Superior accuracy gain-in-weight and loss-in-weight batch weighing of final blends, excipients and active pharmaceutical ingredients

Automated dispensing systems are utilized throughout the pharmaceutical industry for the transfer and weighing of excipients, active pharmaceutical ingredients (API’s) and lubricants into a variety of containers and processes. The use of screw feeders in both loss-in-weight (LIW) and gain-in-weight (GIW) dispensing systems ensures the accurate metering of the product to the process or container below. Coperion K-Tron’s integrated material handling and feeding systems are available in a variety of dispensary configurations, dependent upon the material to be transferred, the containment levels required and the process requirements. Typical dispensary systems often include the integration of the Coperion K-Tron pharmaceutical line of pneumatic conveying equipment, as well as the high-accuracy line of pharmaceutical design screw feeders.

Products include:

  • API’s (of varied potency levels)
  • Excipients (e.g. microcrystalline cellulose MCC, hydroxypropylcellulose HPC, croscarmellose sodium, lactose hydroxypropylmethyl cellulose HPMC, silicone dioxide, titanium dioxide, povidone PVP, cross povidone, starch, etc.)
  • Lubricants (e.g. magnesium stearate, calcium stearate, stearic acid, etc.)
  • Diluents and fillers (e.g. salt, calcium phosphate)
  • Binders (e.g. carnauba wax, corn starch, gelatin, sucrose)
  • Coloring agents & preservatives (e.g. iron oxide, ferric oxide)
  • Synthetic polymers (e.g. polyvinylpyrrolidone PVP , polyethylene glycol PEG)
  • Glidants (e.g. fumed silica, talc, magnesium carbonate)
  • Sweeteners and flavorings
  • Vitamins and antioxidants
  • Final formulation blends

Features and Benefits

  • Automated batch dispensing utilizing the Coperion K-Tron line of high accuracy load cells and control systems ensures the highest accurate delivery of even the most difficult pharmaceutical ingredients.
  • The Coperion K-Tron pharmaceutical feeder, in both volumetric and gravimetric designs, is designed specifically for the pharmaceutical industry, with ease of assembly, disassembly and cleaning in mind.
  • Coperion K-Tron’s patented SFT digital weighing technology delivers the highest accuracy weight measurements with resolutions of 1:4'000'000.
  • The Coperion K-Tron Global Systems Engineering group can supply integrated dispensing and batching systems completely integrated with a wide variety of processes, including batching from filter dryers and centrifuges, or batching directly to mixers or reactors.
  • The Coperion and Coperion K-Tron line of pneumatic conveying systems provide completely contained transfer of the raw material direct to the batching system.
  • Completely automated systems, including dispensary IBC broaching, loading and unloading, are provided with a variety of control systems and platforms, and can include recipe control, bar code scanning, as well as CFR 21 Part 11 compliance.

Application Examples

In most pharmaceutical plants, separate broaching areas are established in which the raw ingredients are brought in from outside suppliers or other plant locations. These broaching areas include the unloading of pallets containing drums or boxes, or the unloading of supersacks. The contents of each container are transferred via either gravity flow or pneumatic transfer to the dispensary area for the loading of IBC’s. Following this loading operation, loss-in-weight (LIW) feeders are used to regulate and meter the amount of these components being fed into the receiving IBC. LIW feeders are critical when utilizing small weight percentages of individual ingredients that are a fraction of the total batch weight. The application sheet linked below outlines the steps involved for LIW dispensaries and the methods utilized to ensure contained transfer and weighing of the individual ingredients.

Download the application sheet for more information:

Coperion K-Tron volumetric feeders are often used in a simplified gain-in-weight (GIW) application for controlled batch dispensing and weighing of pharmaceutical powders. Dispensing is often a step in a variety of processes including centrifuge and filter dryer discharge, batching direct into IBC’s (intermediate bulk containers), hoppers, or drums, and batch ingredient dispensing directly into batch blenders and reactors. The batched ingredients often include potent compounds, resulting in the need for a batching device that can be easily contained to eliminate any exposure of the operator or the environment to the product. The application sheet linked below defines the options available for batch dispensing via gain-in-weight methods and the pros and cons of loss-in-weight versus gain-in-weight batch dispensing options.

Download the application sheet for more information:

Coperion K-Tron loss in weight feeders dispensing powders into vessel process

Metered dispensing of toxic or reactive powders into reactors and large tanks has been a challenge faced by many chemical and pharmaceutical process engineers. The requirement to dispense difficult-to-handle ingredients in a contained and accurate method is an application which can be fulfilled and completely automated using specifically designed loss-in-weight (LIW) feeders. The combination of highly advanced load cell weighing technology and a contained and sanitary feeder design provides for an ideal automated method of powder delivery, without the dangers and inefficiencies of traditional manual powder loading techniques. The application sheet linked below describes the methods available in automated loading of powders direct to the reactor and the design options available for ease in contained powder transfer and weighing.

Download the application sheet for more information:

Comprehensive Product Range

Feeding Equipment

High Accuracy and Contained Dispensing with the Coperion K-Tron Pharmaceutical Feeder

The Coperion K-Tron PH line of pharmaceutical design feeders are engineered with ease of cleaning and complete accessibility in mind. All feeders are designed to meet the rigid requirements of the pharmaceutical industry, including strict adherence to cGMP guidelines and standards, as well as the use of FDA approved materials of construction. Options are available for wash-in-place (WIP) and rinse-in-place cleaning. LIW or GIW batching systems ensure the highest degree of accuracy owing to the patented Coperion K-Tron line of digital load cell technology. Our Micro Screw Feeders are also designed with the hygienic requirements of pharmaceutical applications in mind.

Volumetric and gravimetric feeders

Material Handling

Contained Material Transfer via the P-Series Line of Hygienic Design Pneumatic Conveying Equipment

The Coperion K-Tron line of pneumatic conveying systems is designed to meet even the strictest pharmaceutical standards, and includes a variety of options such as the ability to handle a wide degree of hazardous or potent materials. Modifications to the design include the addition of retractable spray heads for cleaning- and rinsing-in-place as well as specialty swing-out filter head designs for ease of access and removal of the filter assemblies.

Process Equipment


Complete Integrated Material Handling and Dispensary Systems for even the most difficult Materials

The Global Systems Engineering groups of both Coperion and Coperion K-Tron have extensive experience for a variety of process and material handling requirements. Designs are available for pickup and delivery of the most difficult flowing or potent compounds. Systems can include integration of glovebox or isolator technology or active/passive containment valves. In addition, extensive control systems can be provided in a variety of control platforms. All systems are available with validation protocol options, including FDS, FAT and SAT-IQ and SAT-OQ.

Plants & Systems
Coperion service technician


Superior Global Service

Our global service personnel possess extensive material handling and process design knowledge for these special hygienic applications and are available 24/7 to assist you with your pharmaceutical compound process needs.

After Sales Service

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I determine if the best method for automated dispensing is via loss-in-weight or gain-in-weight methods?

Batch size, number of materials and accuracy requirements will all influence which type of batching, via loss-in-weight or gain-in-weight, is best used. Typical accuracies which can be expected with the GIW method of batch weighing are ±0.5% of the full scale capacity. However, since batching via loss-in-weight is measuring only the material lost from the feeder, the accuracies expected can be much higher, with accuracies in the range of 0.1-0.5%

It should also be noted that when batching multiple ingredients via GIW batching, each ingredient must be batched separately which will add to the overall batch time. In cases where multiple products (i.e. major, minor and/or micro ingredients) are batched into larger IBC containers, a combination of volumetric and loss-in-weight (LIW) feeders may be used. Volumetric feeders are used to batch out the major ingredients first, directly into the IBC on a platform scale. The LIW feeders are each mounted on individual weighing systems (load cells or scales) and are then used to simultaneously batch out the smaller percentage of minor/micro ingredients.

Our Application Sheet "Contained batch dispensing of pharmaceuticals via gain-in-weight technology" provides more information.


Play video
Coperion K-Tron pharmaceutical loss-in-weight feeder - cleaning made easy.

Literature Downloads

Subscribe to the Coperion Newsletter