(19)
(11)EP 3 484 775 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
23.09.2020 Bulletin 2020/39

(21)Application number: 17761572.1

(22)Date of filing:  13.07.2017
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
B65B 55/08(2006.01)
B65B 3/00(2006.01)
B65B 55/10(2006.01)
B65B 7/28(2006.01)
(86)International application number:
PCT/IB2017/054242
(87)International publication number:
WO 2018/011748 (18.01.2018 Gazette  2018/03)

(54)

METHOD DEVICE FOR HANDLING PRIMARY CONTAINERS FOR PHARMACEUTICAL USE

VERFAHREN UND VORRICHTUNG ZUR HANDHABUNG VON PRIMÄRBEHÄLTERN ZUR PHARMAZEUTISCHEN VERWENDUNG

PROCÉDÉ ET DISPOSITIF DE MANIPULATION DE RÉCIPIENTS PRIMAIRES POUR UTILISATION PHARMACEUTIQUE


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 15.07.2016 IT 201600074164

(43)Date of publication of application:
22.05.2019 Bulletin 2019/21

(73)Proprietor: Nuova Ompi S.r.l.
35017 Piombino Dese (PD) (IT)

(72)Inventor:
  • BERTOLIN, Gianpaolo
    35017 Piombino Dese Padova (IT)

(74)Representative: Mitola, Marco 
Jacobacci & Partners S.p.A. Piazza Mario Saggin, 2
35131 Padova
35131 Padova (IT)


(56)References cited: : 
DE-A1-102014 214 697
US-A1- 2012 090 268
US-A1- 2016 200 461
US-A1- 2011 277 419
US-A1- 2013 067 867
  
      
    Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


    Description


    [0001] The present invention relates to a method for handling primary containers for pharmaceutical or veterinary use.

    [0002] As is known, primary containers for pharmaceutical use before being subjected to a treatment step, such as washing, filling and capping, are repeatedly handled for performing various combination, washing, sterilisation, inspection operations, etc.

    [0003] One of the major drawbacks related to the handling of primary containers, such as glass for pharmaceutical use, is associated with the production of contaminating particles that originate from friction and shocks between the primary containers.

    [0004] Often, the primary containers are in fact moved in bulk or are aggregated, either for storage, for transport or for the performance of specific operations, into secondary containers where they are placed in strict mutual contact. Such solutions are known, for example, from US 2012/090268 A1, US 2013/067867 A1, DE 10 2014 214697 A1, US 2016/200461 A1, US 2011/277419 A1.

    [0005] Damage to or deterioration of the primary containers due to friction or shocks must be prevented as much as possible.

    [0006] In some cases, secondary containers are provided where the primary containers are arranged in separate position. Such secondary containers are used to transport the primary containers from a remote site to the treatment area, such as washing and/or filling and/or capping, on which they are fed loose with the risk of getting damaged due to mutual contact. The technical task of the present invention therefore is to provide a method for handling primary containers for pharmaceutical use, suitable for aiding the transportation thereof along an automatic treatment line, operating in a controlled environment from a contamination point of view, without the generation of contaminating particles.

    [0007] Another object is to provide a method for handling primary containers for pharmaceutical use, suitable for aiding the transportation thereof under suitable protection conditions along an automatic treatment line, operating in a controlled environment from a contamination point of view.

    [0008] Another object is to provide a method for handling primary containers for pharmaceutical use, suitable for aiding the transportation thereof along a highly productive automatic treatment line operating in a controlled environment from a contamination point of view.

    [0009] Another object is to provide a method for handling primary containers for pharmaceutical use, suitable for aiding the transportation thereof along an automatic treatment line operating in a controlled environment from a contamination point of view without the risk of contamination and/or impairing the sterility and/or impairing the structural integrity thereof.

    [0010] The technical task, as well as these and other objects according to the present invention are achieved by implementing a method for handling primary containers for pharmaceutical use transported along an automatic treatment line operating in a controlled environment from a contamination point of view, as defined in the appended claims.

    [0011] In a preferred embodiment of the method, after the treatment step, such as the capping step, said primary containers are relocated in said secondary container without coming into contact with one another prior to the extraction from said line.

    [0012] In a preferred embodiment of the method, the following operations are carried out before introducing said secondary container in said line: closing the secondary container with the primary containers housed therein, sterilising the primary containers with a permeable sterilising agent in the secondary container, placing the closed secondary container in a tertiary container, closing the tertiary container, transporting the tertiary container from said sterile sterilisation environment to a transfer port to said line, removing the secondary container from the tertiary container at said transfer door.

    [0013] The present invention also describes a device for the automatic handling of primary containers for pharmaceutical use arranged in a secondary container equipped with a bottom, side walls, an access mouth, and positioning seats arranged in rows configured to house said primary containers without mutual contact, characterised in that it comprises a retaining tool engageable to close said access mouth and configured to retain all the primary containers in the respective positioning seats, a tool for dragging the secondary container and configured for the gradual opening of said access mouth and the release in succession one at a time of said rows of primary containers, and a device for picking and transferring the rows of primary containers released by said retaining tool.

    [0014] Such a picking and transfer device for example comprises a conveyor spiral.

    [0015] Other features of the present invention are further described in the following claims.

    [0016] Further features and advantages of the invention will become more apparent from the description of a preferred but non-exclusive embodiment of method for handling primary containers for pharmaceutical use transported along an automatic treatment line operating in a controlled environment from a contamination point of view according to the invention, illustrated by way of non-limiting example in the accompanying drawings, in which:

    figure 1 schematically shows the treatment line;

    figure 2 shows the opening station of the secondary container;

    figures 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 show the secondary container overturning station in sequential steps of the overturning operation;

    figures 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 show the extraction station of the primary containers from the secondary container, shows a detail of the automatic line at the opening stations of the secondary container, in sequential steps of the overturning operation;

    figure 13 shows the stations for filling, capping and repositioning the filled and capped primary containers in the secondary container.



    [0017] With reference to the above figures, a preferred embodiment of the invention is shown, which comprises an automatic treatment line operating in a controlled environment from the contamination point of view, such as a sterile environment, indicated as a whole with reference numeral 1, along which primary containers 2, such as in glass or plastic, for drugs, such as liquid or powdered, are transported to be handled.

    [0018] The automatic treatment line generally comprises a sterile chamber (not shown) having at least one access door and at least one exit port, a succession of workstations 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, and motorised transport means of the primary containers 2 through the workstations. Advantageously, the primary containers 2 transported along the treatment line 1 perform a part of their travel grouped in a secondary container 6, where they are accommodated without mutual contact to be handled all at the same time, and part of their travel outside the secondary container 6, again without mutual contact to be handled individually in succession. In the specific case shown, workstations 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 comprise, in succession along the feeding direction of the primary containers 2, an opening station 7 of the secondary container 6, an overturning station 8 of the secondary container 6, a station 9 for the grouped extraction of the primary containers 2 from the secondary container 6, a filling station 10, a capping station 11, a station 12 for reintroducing the filled and capped primary containers 2 in the secondary container 6.

    [0019] Of course, the number and type of workstations may also be different from that shown.

    [0020] For example, the overturning station 8 is provided, as will be seen, for the sole reason that the primary containers 2 are housed in the secondary container 6 in overturned position, that is to say, with the filling mouth thereof facing downwards, and it would not be required in a different embodiment of the invention in which the primary containers 2 are housed in the secondary container 6 not in overturned position, that is to say, with the filling mouth thereof facing upwards, in the correct orientation for filling.

    [0021] In the case described, reference will be made to primary containers 2 comprising bottles but the same concept applies to other types of primary containers 2, such as glass containers for pharmaceutical use such as vials, ampoules, cartridges, syringes, etc.

    [0022] The secondary container 6, quadrangular in shape, comprises a bottom 13, side walls 14 defining a containment compartment 15 and an access mouth 16 of the secondary container 6, and a removable lid 17 applicable to close the access mouth 16.

    [0023] Seats 18 are formed in the containment compartment 15 for placing the primary containers 2 configured to accommodate without mutual contact the primary containers 2.

    [0024] The positioning seats 18 are delimited by separation pins 19 that extend from bottom 13 of the secondary container 6.

    [0025] The separation pins 19 define a plurality of positioning seats 18 arranged in a series of parallel rows.

    [0026] Lid 17 preferably comprises a membrane selectively permeable to a sterilising agent that ensures the sterility over time.

    [0027] Bottom 13 of the secondary container 6 is closed but in a different embodiment, it may have through openings, particularly at each positioning seat, and in turn be covered externally by a membrane selectively permeable to the sterilising agent. This solution can be used in case one wants to perform the sterilisation of the primary containers 2 also through the bottom of the secondary container. Moreover, after removing the membrane, the openings in the bottom of the secondary container can be used for the passage of suitable extraction actuators of the primary containers from the secondary container itself.

    [0028] Bottom 13, the side walls 14 and the positioning seats 18 of the secondary container 6 are preferably made as a single piece of plastic.

    [0029] The secondary container 6 further has an outer flange 20 which develops peripherally to the access mouth 16.

    [0030] Flange 20, in addition to providing a sufficiently large fastening area where the outer edge of lid 17 is welded or glued, also serves for picking the secondary container 6.

    [0031] The transportation means defines a horizontal feeding path and in the specific example described, they comprise in succession a horizontal motorised roller conveyor 21, a horizontal conveyor spiral 22, a carousel rotating in a horizontal plane, and a further horizontal conveyor spiral 30.

    [0032] Station 7 for opening the secondary container fed by the roller conveyor 21 comprises a robotic arm 24 supporting a picking tool 25, such as a clamp suitable for gripping an edge of the lip and detaching it from flange 20.

    [0033] Station 8 for overturning the secondary container 6, also fed by the roller conveyor 21, comprises a robotic arm 3 supporting a retainer tool 26 engageable with the access mouth 16 of the secondary container 6 and configured for retaining simultaneously all the primary containers 2 in the respective positioning seats 18. The retainer tool 26 comprises a flat quadrangular sheet which can be overlapped to the access mouth 16 of the secondary container 6 and having a perimeter configured to match the perimeter of flange 20.

    [0034] In the case shown, the retainer tool 26 slidably couplable to the access mouth 16 of the secondary container 6 in a direction orthogonal to the rows of positioning seats 18.

    [0035] In a variant of the invention, an axial coupling with vertical movement may be provided.

    [0036] By way of example, along two parallel sides of the peripheral edge of the quadrangular sheet, L-shaped flaps 27 are formed which act as a support and sliding guide for two corresponding parallel sides of flange 20.

    [0037] Station 9 for extracting the primary containers 2 in groups from the secondary container 6, arranged at the conveyor spiral 22, comprises a robotic arm 28 supporting a dragging tool 29 of the secondary container 6.

    [0038] Tool 29 for dragging the secondary container 6 is in particular formed by a belt that surrounds the side walls of the secondary container 6.

    [0039] The filling station 11 and the capping station 11, of a known type, are positioned at different points along the perimeter of carousel 23 or, in a variation of the invention not shown, along the linear transportation axis of the vials.

    [0040] Station 12 for reintroducing the filled and capped primary containers 2 in the secondary container 6, located at the conveyor spiral 30, comprises a robotic arm 31 supporting a tool 32 for extracting the primary containers 2 in groups from the conveyor spiral 30 and placing them in the secondary container 6, which tool 32 for example comprises a series of suction cups or clamps.

    [0041] The treatment line 1 works as follows. Firstly, in a sterile sterilisation environment, the primary containers 2 are deposited in the positioning seats 18, then the closing lid 17 is applied to the secondary container 6, then the sterilisation of the primary containers 2 is carried out with a sterilising treatment through the secondary container 6, for example by flushing with a sterilising gaseous agent or by exposure to gamma rays), then the secondary container 6 is placed in a tertiary container which is closed and transferred to the access door of the sterile filling chamber where the tertiary container is finally removed.

    [0042] Advantageously, during the entire transport within the sterile filling chamber, the primary containers 2 move separately from each other without any mutual contact.

    [0043] The handling method involves the extraction of the primary containers 2 in succession.

    [0044] Alternatively, it may be provided to extract complete rows or parts of rows or a single primary container 2 in succession one at a time from the secondary container 6, while maintaining the primary containers 2 separate, and transfer in succession one at a time the separate primary containers 2 to the filling station 10 and then to the capping station 11.

    [0045] Preferably, the handling method contemplates that after capping, the primary containers 2, in groups corresponding to the number of positioning seats that make up a row, are transferred again in the secondary container 6 without coming into contact with each other.

    [0046] More in detail, the filling line works as follows.

    [0047] The secondary container 6 in input into the sterile chamber advances at the opening station 7 where it stops and is opened, then restarted up in correspondence of the overturning station 8 where it is overturned to bring the primary containers 2 in the correct position for filling. To perform the overturning, the robotic arm 25 makes the retainer tool 26, in succession, carry out a first translation movement as a result of which the retainer tool 26 is coupled with the access mouth 16 of the secondary container 6 up to the complete closure of the latter, a second translation movement as a result of which the retainer tool 26 raises the secondary container 6 from the roller conveyor 21, a third 180° rotational movement as a result of which the retaining tool 26 overturns the secondary container 6, and a fourth linear movement as a result of which the retaining tool 26 lays the overturned secondary container 6 on a fixed horizontal resting surface 34 surmounting the conveyor spiral 22.

    [0048] It should be understood that in a variant of the invention, the conveyor spiral 22 is replaced by another type of indexed or known or incremental step feeding system.

    [0049] The secondary container 6 is in particular deposited on the support surface 34 with the rows of positioning seats 18 oriented parallel to a side 35 of the support surface intended for the exit of the primary containers 2. The output side 35 of the support surface 34 is in turn oriented parallel to the axis of the conveyor spiral 22. Once the secondary container 6 is deposited on the support surface 34, the robotic arm 28 makes tool 29 carry out first linear descent motion as a result of which tool 29 engages the secondary container 6, and a second horizontal linear movement as a result of which the secondary container 6 is progressively moved towards the output side 35 of the primary containers 2 up to go beyond it. As it advances beyond the output side 35 of the support surface 34, the secondary container 6 is progressively released from the retainer tool 26 and progressively opens the access door 16. When the opening gap of the access mouth 16 is sufficiently wide to expose the first row of positioning seats 18, the first row of primary containers 2 drops due to the force of gravity. The first dropped row of primary containers 2 is intercepted by a support bar 36 which stops each primary container 2 in a corresponding space between two adjacent turns of the conveyor spiral 22. At this point, by rotating, the spiral conveyor 22 advances the first row of primary containers 2 until the latter are picked one at a time from carousel 23. The rotation of the conveyor spiral 22 is synchronised with the movement of the secondary container 6 so that, as soon as the support bar 36 is freed of the last primary container 2 of the first row, the opening gap of the access mouth 16 is enlarged so as to also expose the second row of positioning seats 18 to allow the drop of the second row of primary containers 2 on the support bar 36. The sequence continues up to the drop of the last row of primary containers 2.

    [0050] The pitch of the conveyor spiral 22 determines the pitch of spacing between the primary containers that are transferred to carousel 23.

    [0051] By suitably selecting the pitch of the conveyor spiral 22, it is therefore possible to change the pitch of spacing between the primary containers 2 accommodated in the secondary container 6 and the pitch of spacing between the primary containers 2 that are transferred to carousel 23 in a row. The primary containers 2 are moved up to the filling and capping without changing their orientation. After capping, carousel 23 transfers the primary containers 2 to the conveyor spiral 30 from which they are picked in groups equal to the number of positioning seats 18 of which each row is composed.

    [0052] Each group of primary containers 2 picked is then repositioned in a row of positioning seats 18 of the secondary container 6, which in the meantime has been automatically moved to a predefined position of the reintroduction station 12.

    [0053] Several changes and variations may be made to the method for handling primary containers for pharmaceutical use transported along an automatic treatment line operating in a controlled environment from a contamination point of view thus conceived, all falling within the inventive concept; moreover, all details can be replaced with technically equivalent elements.

    [0054] For example, in a variant of the invention not shown, the filling station is preceded by a washing station of the primary containers 2. In this case, the primary containers 2 are accommodated in the secondary container 6 in non-inverted position, namely with their filling mouth facing upwards, in such a way that the overturning station 8 overturns the secondary container 6 and the primary containers 2 are brought to the correct position for washing.

    [0055] Moreover, in another variant of the invention not shown, the sterile area is divided by a door into two areas of which the first area is intended to overturn and extract by gravity the primary containers 2 and the second area is instead intended for the various treatment steps of the primary container, e.g., filling, capping and others.

    [0056] In practice, the materials used and the dimensions can be any according to the requirements and the state of the art.


    Claims

    1. A method for handling primary containers (2) for pharmaceutical use transported along an automatic treatment line (1) operating in a controlled environment from a contamination point of view and comprising at least one treatment station (10) for treating the primary containers (2), characterised in that it comprises the following steps:

    - introducing into said line a secondary container (6) equipped with rows of positioning seats (18) housing said primary containers (2) separately from one another;

    - extracting the primary containers (2) in succession keeping the primary containers (2) separate from one another, wherein a whole row of primary containers (2) at a time or part of a row of primary containers (2) at a time or one primary container (2) at a time are extracted in succession;

    - transferring the extracted primary containers (2) to said treatment station (10) in succession one at a time, and

    - performing said treatment step,

    - wherein the method comprises a step of overturning the secondary container (6) comprised between the introduction and the extraction step of the primary containers (2).


     
    2. The handling method according to claim 1, characterised in that in the transfer to said treatment station (10) the primary containers (2) are kept separate from one another.
     
    3. The handling method according to any one of the preceding claims, characterised in that the orientation with which the primary containers (2) are arranged in the positioning seats (18) is chosen according to the orientation assumed by them during the performance of the treatment step.
     
    4. The handling method according to any one of the preceding claims, characterised in that after the treatment step said primary containers (2) are relocated in said secondary container (6) without coming into contact with one another prior to the extraction from said line.
     
    5. The handling method according to any one of the preceding claims, characterised in that the following steps are performed in a sterile sterilisation environment, prior to introducing said secondary container (6) into said line (1):

    closing the secondary container (6) with the primary containers (2) housed within it,

    sterilising the primary containers (2),

    placing the closed secondary container (6) into a tertiary container,

    closing the tertiary container, transporting the tertiary container from said sterile sterilisation environment to a transfer door to said line (1),

    removing the secondary container (6) from the tertiary container at said transfer door.


     
    6. The handling method according to any one of the preceding claims, characterised in that the distancing pitch between the primary containers (2) transferred to the treatment station is varied with respect to the distancing pitch between the primary containers (2) housed in said positioning seats (18).
     
    7. The handling method according to any one of the preceding claims, characterised in that said secondary container (6) comprises a bottom (13), side walls (14) that delimit an access mouth (16) to the secondary container (6), and a removable lid (17) applied to close said access mouth (16) and comprising a membrane made of material that is selectively permeable to the sterilising agent.
     
    8. The handling method according to claim 7, characterised in that said bottom (13) has through holes lined with a further membrane that is selectively permeable to the sterilising agent.
     
    9. The handling method according to any one of the preceding claims, characterised in that the primary containers (2) of each of said whole rows extracted in succession one at a time are placed down simultaneously each in a corresponding space between two adjacent turns of a conveyor spiral (22) to the treatment station (10).
     
    10. The handling method according to the preceding claim, characterised in that said whole rows extracted in succession one at a time are guided in gravitational fall towards said spiral (22).
     
    11. The handling method according to any one of the preceding claims, characterised in that the primary containers (2) are placed in an overturned position in said positioning seats (18) and said secondary container (6), once open, is engaged by a retaining tool (26) of the primary containers (2), and in that said retaining tool (26) is activated so as to overturn the secondary container (6) and arrange the primary containers (2) with the correct orientation for the treatment.
     
    12. The handling method according to the preceding claim, characterised in that, once the secondary container (6) has been overturned, the retaining tool (26) is moved with respect to the secondary container (6) so as to free the primary containers (2).
     
    13. The handling method according to claim 11 or 12, characterised in that once the secondary container (6) has been overturned, the primary containers (2) are moved as far as the treatment station without their orientation being changed.
     
    14. A device for the automatic handling of primary containers (2) for pharmaceutical use arranged in a secondary container (6) equipped with a bottom (13), side walls (14), an access mouth (16), and positioning seats (18) arranged in rows configured to house said primary containers (3) without mutual contact, characterised in that it comprises a retaining tool (26) engageable to close said access mouth (16) and configured to retain all the primary containers (2) in the respective positioning seats (18), a tool (29) for dragging the secondary container (6) and configured for the gradual opening of said access mouth (16) and the release in succession one at a time of said rows of primary containers (2), and a device for picking and transferring the rows of primary containers (2) released by said retaining tool (26), wherein the primary containers (2) are placed in an overturned position in said positioning seats (18) and said secondary container (6), once open, is engaged by a retaining tool (26) of the primary containers (2), wherein said retaining tool (26) is activated so as to overturn the secondary container (6) and arrange the primary containers (2) with the correct orientation for the treatment.
     


    Ansprüche

    1. Verfahren zur Handhabung von Primärbehältern (2) für eine pharmazeutische Verwendung, die entlang einer automatischen Behandlungslinie (1) transportiert werden, die unter Kontaminationsgesichtspunkten in einer kontrollierten Umgebung betrieben wird und mindestens eine Behandlungsstation (10) zur Behandlung der Primärbehälter (2) umfasst, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass es die folgenden Schritte umfasst:

    - Einführen eines Sekundärbehälters (6) in die Linie, der mit Reihen von Positionierungssitzen (18) ausgestattet ist, in denen die Primärbehälter (2) getrennt voneinander untergebracht sind;

    - Entnehmen der Primärbehälter (2) nacheinander, wobei die Primärbehälter (2) voneinander getrennt gehalten werden, wobei jeweils eine ganze Reihe von Primärbehältern (2) oder jeweils ein Teil einer Reihe von Primärbehältern (2) oder jeweils ein Primärbehälter (2) nacheinander entnommen wird;

    - Überführen der entnommenen Primärbehälter (2) einzeln nacheinander zur Behandlungsstation (10) und

    - Durchführen des Behandlungsschritts,

    wobei das Verfahren einen Schritt eines Umdrehens des Sekundärbehälters (6) zwischen dem Einführ- und dem Entnahmeschritt der Primärbehälter (2) umfasst.
     
    2. Handhabungsverfahren nach Anspruch 1, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass bei dem Überführen zur Behandlungsstation (10) die Primärbehälter (2) voneinander getrennt gehalten werden.
     
    3. Handhabungsverfahren nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass die Ausrichtung, mit der die Primärbehälter (2) in den Positionierungssitzen (18) angeordnet sind, gemäß der Ausrichtung gewählt wird, die sie während der Durchführung des Behandlungsschritts annehmen.
     
    4. Handhabungsverfahren nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass nach dem Behandlungsschritt die Primärbehälter (2) in den Sekundärbehälter (6) verlagert werden, ohne vor der Entnahme aus der Linie miteinander in Kontakt zu kommen.
     
    5. Handhabungsverfahren nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass die folgenden Schritte in einer sterilen Sterilisationsumgebung durchgeführt werden, bevor der Sekundärbehälter (6) in die Linie (1) eingeführt wird:

    Schließen des Sekundärbehälters (6) mit den darin untergebrachten Primärbehältern (2),

    Sterilisieren der Primärbehälter (2),

    Platzieren des geschlossenen Sekundärbehälters (6) in einem Tertiärbehälter,

    Schließen des Tertiärbehälters, Transportieren des Tertiärbehälters von der sterilen Sterilisationsumgebung zu einer Überführungstür zu der Linie (1),

    Entfernen des Sekundärbehälters (6) aus dem Tertiärbehälter an der Überführungstür.


     
    6. Handhabungsverfahren nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass der Distanzierungsabstand zwischen den zur Behandlungsstation übertragenen Primärbehältern (2) in Bezug auf den Distanzierungsabstand zwischen den Primärbehältern (2), die in den Positionierungssitzen (18) untergebracht sind, variiert wird.
     
    7. Handhabungsverfahren nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass der Sekundärbehälter (6) einen Boden (13), Seitenwände (14), die eine Zugangsöffnung (16) zum Sekundärbehälter (6) begrenzen, und einen abnehmbaren Deckel (17), der zum Schließen der Zugangsöffnung (16) angewendet wird, umfasst und umfassend eine Membran aus Material, das für das Sterilisationsmittel selektiv durchlässig ist.
     
    8. Handhabungsverfahren nach Anspruch 7, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass der Boden (13) Durchgangslöcher aufweist, die mit einer weiteren Membran ausgekleidet sind, die für das Sterilisationsmittel selektiv durchlässig ist.
     
    9. Handhabungsverfahren nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass die Primärbehälter (2) jeder der einzeln nacheinander entnommenen ganzen Reihen gleichzeitig je in einem entsprechenden Raum zwischen zwei benachbarten Windungen einer Fördererspirale (22) zur Behandlungsstation (10) abgelegt werden.
     
    10. Handhabungsverfahren nach dem vorhergehenden Anspruch, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass die einzeln nacheinander entnommenen ganzen Reihen im Gravitationsfall in Richtung der Spirale (22) geführt werden.
     
    11. Handhabungsverfahren nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass die Primärbehälter (2) in den Positionierungssitzen (18) in einer umgedrehten Position angeordnet sind und der Sekundärbehälter (6), sobald er geöffnet ist, durch ein Haltewerkzeug (26) von den Primärbehältern (2) in Eingriff steht und dadurch, dass das Haltewerkzeug (26) aktiviert ist, um den Sekundärbehälter (6) umzudrehen und die Primärbehälter (2) mit der richtigen Ausrichtung für die Behandlung anzuordnen.
     
    12. Handhabungsverfahren nach dem vorhergehenden Anspruch, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass nachdem der Sekundärbehälter (6) umgedreht worden ist, das Haltewerkzeug (26) in Bezug auf den Sekundärbehälter (6) bewegt wird, um die Primärbehälter (2) freizugeben.
     
    13. Handhabungsverfahren nach Anspruch 11 oder 12, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass nachdem der Sekundärbehälter (6) umgedreht worden ist, die Primärbehälter (2) bis zur Behandlungsstation bewegt werden, ohne dass ihre Ausrichtung geändert wird.
     
    14. Vorrichtung zur automatischen Handhabung von Primärbehältern (2) für eine pharmazeutische Verwendung, die in einem Sekundärbehälter (6) angeordnet sind, ausgestattet mit einem Boden (13), Seitenwänden (14), einer Zugangsöffnung (16) und Positionierungssitzen (18), die in Reihen angeordnet sind, die dazu eingerichtet sind die Primärbehälter (3) ohne gegenseitigen Kontakt aufzunehmen, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass sie ein Haltewerkzeug (26) umfasst, das zum Schließen der Zugangsöffnungen (16) in Eingriff gebracht werden kann, und dazu eingerichtet ist, alle Primärbehälter (2) in den jeweiligen Positionierungssitzen (18) zu halten, ein Werkzeug (29) zum Ziehen des Sekundärbehälters (6) und eingerichtet für das allmähliche Öffnen der Zugangsöffnung (16) und das aufeinanderfolgende einzelne Lösen der Reihen an Primärbehältern (2) und eine Vorrichtung zum Aufnehmen und Übertragen der Reihen an Primärbehältern (2), die von dem Haltewerkzeug (26) gelöst sind,
    wobei die Primärbehälter (2) in einer umgedrehten Position in den Positionierungssitzen (18) angeordnet sind und der Sekundärbehälter (6), sobald er geöffnet ist, durch ein Haltewerkzeug (26) von den Primärbehältern (2) in Eingriff steht, wobei das Haltewerkzeug (26) aktiviert ist, um den Sekundärbehälter (6) umzudrehen und die Primärbehälter (2) mit der richtigen Ausrichtung für die Behandlung anzuordnen.
     


    Revendications

    1. Procédé de manipulation de récipients primaires (2) pour utilisation pharmaceutique transportés le long d'une ligne de traitement automatique (1) fonctionnant dans un environnement contrôlé sur le plan de la contamination et comprenant au moins une station de traitement (10) pour traiter les récipients primaires (2),
    caractérisé en ce qu'il comprend les étapes suivantes :

    - introduire dans ladite ligne un récipient secondaire (6) équipé de rangées de sièges de positionnement (18) logeant les récipients primaires (2) séparément les uns des autres ;

    - extraire les récipients primaires (2) successivement en gardant les récipients primaires (2) séparés les uns des autres, étant alors extraits successivement une rangée entière de récipients primaires (2) une par une ou une partie d'une rangée de récipients primaires (2) une par une ou un récipient primaire (2) un par un ;

    - transférer les récipients primaires (2) extraits, successivement un par un à la station de traitement (10) et

    - mettre en œuvre l'étape de traitement,

    - dans lequel le procédé comprenant une étape de retournement du récipient secondaire (6) située entre l'étape d'introduction et l'étape d'extraction des récipients primaires (2).


     
    2. Procédé de manipulation selon la revendication 1, caractérisé en ce que, pendant le transfert à la station de traitement (10), les récipients primaires (2) sont maintenus séparés les uns des autres.
     
    3. Procédé de manipulation selon l'une des revendications précédentes, caractérisé en ce que l'orientation avec laquelle les récipients primaires (2) sont disposés dans les sièges de positionnement (18), est choisie selon l'orientation qu'ils prennent pendant la mise en œuvre de l'étape de traitement.
     
    4. Procédé de manipulation selon l'une des revendications précédentes, caractérisé en ce que, après l'étape de traitement, les récipients primaires (2) sont placés à nouveau dans le récipient secondaire (6) sans venir en contact les uns avec les autres avant l'extraction de ladite ligne.
     
    5. Procédé de manipulation selon l'une des revendications précédentes, caractérisé en ce que les étapes suivantes sont mises en œuvre dans un environnement stérile de stérilisation avant l'introduction du récipient secondaire (6) dans ladite ligne (1) :

    fermer le récipient secondaire (6) avec les récipients primaires (2) logés dans celui-ci,

    stériliser les récipients primaires (2),

    placer le récipient secondaire (6) dans un récipient tertiaire,

    fermer le récipient tertiaire, transporter le récipient tertiaire de l'environnement stérile de stérilisation à une porte de transfert à ladite ligne (1),

    enlever le récipient secondaire (6) du récipient tertiaire à la porte de transfert.


     
    6. Procédé de manipulation selon l'une des revendications précédentes, caractérisé en ce que l'espacement entre les récipients primaires (2) transférés à la station de traitement est varié par rapport à l'espacement entre les récipients primaires (2) logés dans les sièges de positionnement (18).
     
    7. Procédé de manipulation selon l'une des revendications précédentes, caractérisé en ce que le récipient secondaire (6) comprend un fond (13), des parois latérales (14) qui délimitent une ouverture d'accès (16) au récipient secondaire (6), et un couvercle amovible (17) utilisé pour fermer l'ouverture d'accès (16) et comprenant une membrane faite en un matériau qui est sélectivement perméable à l'agent de stérilisation.
     
    8. Procédé de manipulation selon la revendication 7, caractérisé en ce que le fond (13) comprend des trous de passage pourvus d'une autre membrane qui est sélectivement perméable à l'agent de stérilisation.
     
    9. Procédé de manipulation selon l'une des revendications précédentes, caractérisé en ce que les récipients primaires (2) de chacune de ces rangées entières extraites successivement une par une sont déposés simultanément chacun dans un espace correspondant entre deux tours adjacents d'une spirale transporteuse (22) à la station de traitement (10).
     
    10. Procédé de manipulation selon la revendication précédente, caractérisé en ce que les rangées entières extraites successivement une par une sont guidées en chute libre vers ladite spirale (22).
     
    11. Procédé de manipulation selon l'une des revendications précédentes, caractérisé en ce que les récipients primaires (2) sont placés en une position retournée dans les sièges de positionnement (18) et que le récipient secondaire (6), lorsqu'il est ouvert, est saisi par un outil pour retenir (26) des récipients primaires (2) et en ce que l'outil pour retenir (26) est activé afin de retourner le récipient secondaire (6) et de mettre les récipients primaires (2) à la bonne orientation pour le traitement.
     
    12. Procédé de manipulation selon la revendication précédente, caractérisé en ce que, lorsque le récipient secondaire (6) a été retourné, l'outil pour retenir (26) est déplacé par rapport au récipient secondaire (6) afin de libérer les récipients primaires (2).
     
    13. Procédé de manipulation selon la revendication 11 ou 12, caractérisé en ce que, lorsque le récipient secondaire (6) a été retourné, les récipients primaires (2) sont déplacés jusqu'à la station de traitement sans que leur orientation ne soit changée.
     
    14. Dispositif pour la manipulation automatique de récipients primaires (2) pour utilisation pharmaceutique logés dans un récipient secondaire (6) pourvu d'un fond (13), de parois latérales (14), d'une ouverture d'accès (16) et de sièges de positionnement (18) agencés en rangées configurées pour loger les récipients primaires (3) sans contact les uns avec les autres, caractérisé en ce qu'il comprend un outil pour retenir (26) adapté pour fermer l'ouverture d'accès (16) et configuré pour retenir tous les récipients primaires (2) dans les sièges de positionnement (18) correspondants, un outil (29) pour tirer le récipient secondaire (6) et configuré pour l'ouverture graduelle de l'ouverture d'accès (16) et la libération successive une par une des rangées de récipients primaires (2), et un dispositif pour saisir et transférer les rangées de récipients primaires (2) libérées par l'outil pour retenir (26),
    dans lequel les récipients primaires (2) étant placés en une position retournée dans les sièges de positionnement (18) et le récipient secondaire (6), lorsqu'il est ouvert, étant saisi par un outil pour retenir (26) des récipients primaires (2), l'outil pour retenir (26) étant activé afin de retourner le récipient secondaire (6) et de placer les récipients primaires (2) dans une orientation correcte pour le traitement.
     




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    Cited references

    REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



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    Patent documents cited in the description