productivity and it is at the heart of the national strategies of many countries. In the past 10 years, there has been a massive rise in annual spend across Europe, UK and the USA in this area. For example, by 2020 over €70 billion will be made available for a seven-year funding programme across Europe,   focused on digital technology.

MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN PHARMACEUTICALS The use of DEM – a technique that enables engineers to predict the behaviour/impact of particulates on their designs – is a small but crucially important part of the digital jigsaw. In no uncertain terms, the widespread use of DEM has the potential to revolutionise process industries globally, by boosting productivity and reducing manufacturing costs. For example, if we look at the

pharmaceutical industry, DEM plays a critical role in optimising not only powder mixing but also a range of processes such as tablet coating, die  is a predictive tool that can provide key insights to help optimise processes, leading to better product quality, less physical prototyping and therefore cost

savings across the production cycle. 

Model of a tablet made with DEM software

and processing of particulates is critical  manufacture of pharmaceutical products. Over 75% of pharma and other industrial products are in the solid dosage form and particulates are involved in almost every stage of the manufacturing process. Using particulate simulation early in the manufacturing process enables engineers to quickly and accurately simulate and analyse the behaviour of their particle systems. For example, digital modelling will provide a detailed analysis and    from powders to tablets, through process segments and handling equipment. This helps promote innovation in product design and reduces the need for physical prototyping and long development cycles, which cost the industry millions of pounds each year. One of the greatest challenges facing manufacturers of tablets, for example, is achieving a consistent coat thickness. In the case of coatings containing an active pharmaceutical ingredient (API), variability in potency between tablets arises directly from coating variability. Variability in thickness can also lead to variable drug-  high levels of variability for cosmetic coatings results in longer process times to ensure that all tablets have 

A look inside a tablet coater

amount of coating. DEM has many applications in the pharmaceutical  properties, helping evaluate powder testing equipment, optimising tablet compaction, coating and handling and helping with the design and testing of powdered drug delivery devices.

HARNESSING MODELLING ACROSS OTHER PROCESS- LED INDUSTRIES DEM plays a similarly critical role across many other process-led industries. For example, let’s take a look at mixing, a process present in many industries, whether it is powders and tablets in the food industries, aggregates for road construction or iron ores and limestone for steelmaking. Mixing has a major impact on end-product quality.  to simulate the mixing process, enabling design engineers to ‘visualise’ what is happening inside the mixing equipment in a virtual environment, before the real work is done. Using simulation software provides critical 29

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