The basic Automatic capsule-filling machine consists of the following sub-assemblies

Structure Assembly

This houses the main drive motor, powder drive motor, pneumatic and vacuum piping, all drive elements, and electrical control cabinet. The structure is enclosed on all four sides by removable covers. Removing the hand wheel side cover exposes the filter regulator lubricator unit of compressed air system, the pressure switch, main drive motor clutch. Removing the cover below the exit chute exposes the cam switch box, drive mechanism. When the cover located below the empty capsule loading area is removed, electrical control panel is exposed.

Drive Assembly

This consists of the main motor, drive shaft, gears, cams, cam followers, bearings, housings and brackets. Rotary indexing motion is given to the turret, dosing disc and a reciprocating motion is given to various sections that move vertically by specially designed cams.

Turret Assembly

The turret is a cylindrical disc. It has 8 pairs of cap & body bush holder plates with the cap plate located above the body plate. Each pair are radially equidistant around the turret center. The turret also houses pneumatic cylinder and cams for providing motion to the cap and body bush holder plates. The cap & body bush holder plates hold cap & body bushes of different sizes as per requirement.

Empty capsule loader assembly

This consists of a capsule hopper, magazine, rectifier block, horizontal finger assembly, vertical finger assembly and vacuum block. The hopper has a baffle plate to regulate the flow of capsules in the hopper. The magazine is mounted on a shaft. The vertical finger assembly and the capsule releasing fingers are fitted on the magazine. A handle is provided to start or stop the release of capsules to the rectifier block. The released capsules are pushed by the horizontal finger assembly. A vacuum block located below the body bush holder plate moves up & down. The magazine has four different sizes of holes depending on the change part ordered. The rectifier block has four different sizes of slots corresponding to the size of capsules. Similarly the horizontal and vertical finger assemblies have different fingers depending on the capsule size.

Powder filling Device

This consists of a hopper, stirrer, feed tube, powder level sensing device, powder tub. The powder hopper is a stainless steel container fitted with an acrylic window. A powder stirrer is mounted centrally in the hopper and driven by a separate motor. At the delivery end of the hopper, adjustable gate is provided to control the rate of powder flow and to facilitate the removal of powder at the end of shift. The powder level in the powder tub is sensed by a capacitive type proximity switch.

Tamping station

The product to be filled is fed from the hopper to the dosing disc. Due to the centrifugal force of the dosing chamber drive, the product is carried to the outer edges of the dosing disc to the tamping plungers. The product is then compressed five times before being transferred into the capsule. Four different sizes of dosing discs are made with their hole position corresponding to the size of capsule.

Pin plate assembly

This consists of a plate on which various segments of pins for different applications are fitted. At no.5 unopened capsules are collected in a box which are ejected out by pins. Similarly at station 6,7 & 8 there are pins for closing of capsules, ejecting the capsules from the exit chute and cleaning of the capsule bushes.

Electrical control assembly

The electrical control panel is mounted inside the structure of the machine. The mains ON / OFF switch is on the cover of the machine. The Drive ON / OFF, Control ON, Speed regulator and the Emergency OFF switches are mounted on the pendant of the machine. Inching facility is provided for easy checking of various settings on the machine.

The display screen of the PLC has various selector keys for performing various operations.

The control cabinet inside the structure houses the AC drive, the PLC, MCB’s, contactors, overload relays.

Pellet filling attachment

This is an optional attachment that can be fitted at station 3. It is a gravimetric type of filling.

It consists of a Hopper, reservoir and dose chamber assembly. The hopper is a stainless steel container with an acrylic window. A manually operated gate is provided at the bottom of the hopper. The hopper is mounted on top of the reservoir. A capacitive type proximity switch is mounted at the bottom of the reservoir. The reservoir is supported on a guide block.  The dose chamber assembly consists of guide block, fixed jaw, movable jaws, slide plate top, slide plate bottom, movable jaw & fix jaw. The volume of the dose to be controlled is by the two movable jaws. The slide plate top & slide plate bottom move radially in & out by the reciprocating shaft through a bell crank lever. When the top plate moves backwards, the reservoir is connected through the apertures in the top slide plate to the adjustable cavities in dose container and thus all the cavities are filled by pellets. The bottom of the dose container is blocked by the slide plate bottom during this metering phase. When the turret indexes and brings the empty capsule bodies under the guide block, the top slide plate moves forward to close the entry of pellets to the adjustable cavities in the dose container. At the same time the slide plate bottom moves forward to open the bottom side of the dose container to transfer the metered dose to the capsule bodies.

PLC Description

The main function of a PLC is to translate the instructions into the digital codes needed to operate the device or machine. The main function of this PLC system is to collect data from field instrumentation & display the information on the operator station. The instruments are connected to the system equipment. The collected data will be utilised by the PLC for process control. The user interface, based in an industrial type MMI, will assist the operator to supervise and control the process. Based on the displayed information the operator, by means of the user interface, can provide commands to the PLC. The PLC then executes the operator instructions. A Mitsubishi Family Fx2N PLC has been chosen as the Central Processing Unit (CPU). 


  1. Objective
  2. Scope
  3. Responsibility (Client and manufacturer)
  4. URS (User Requirement Specification)
  5. Machine description
  6. Technical specification
  7. Technical specifications of the sub-components / bought-out items
  8. Details of Utilities
  9. Identification of components for calibration
  10. Material of construction of components
  11. Surface area calculations for capsule and product contact parts
  12. Equipment dimensional details with tolerances
  13. Brief process description
  14. Capacity vis-a-vis requirement given in URS
  15. Utility consumption
  16. Lubrication procedure
  17. Limitation of equipment
  18. Change control procedure
  19. Design qualification document report approval
  20. Appendix 


To design, engineer, and supply the Automatic capsule filling machine as per cGMP and cGEP guidelines and to provide assurance that the machine is manufactured as per the URS and complies with the Scope of Supply.

To prove that each operation proceeds as per the design specification and the tolerances prescribed there in the document are the same at utmost transparency. The validation procedure is set for the complete satisfaction of the customer & building the confidence of the user about the machine.


The scope of this qualification document is limited to the Design Qualification Automatic capsule filling machine. This qualification document is part of a validation activity of the Automatic capsule-filling machine. Qualification of support utilities is not within the scope of this qualification document. The equipment shall be used for filling powder pellets or tablets in capsules. The equipment shall operate under a dust-free environment and conditions as per the GMP requirements.



To provide the URS for the equipment.


To design, engineer, and provide the complete technical details of the equipment about its design qualification viz.

  • Machine overview
  • Equipment orientation with layout,
  • Specifications of the sub-components / bought-out items, and their make, model & quantity, and backup records/brochures,
  • Details of Utilities,
  • Identification of components for calibration
  • Material of construction of major components
  • Brief operational description
  • Safety features and alarms
  • Pre-installation requirements

To confirm the safe delivery of the equipment to the user site.

To ensure that no unauthorized and/or unrecorded design modifications shall take place. If at any point in time, any change is desired in the mutually agreed design, Change control procedure shall be followed and documented.

To ensure the proper installation and commissioning of the equipment. 


Output: Upto 6,000 capsules/hour for powder filling and Upto 5000 capsules/hour for pellet filling.

Capsule size  : # 00 to # 5

Overall dimensions: 1000 mm X 1000 mm X 1750 mm approx.

Equipment weight: 1000 kg approx.


1. Structure
Material Mild  Steel, Painted, Enclosed on all sides by SS 304 covers
Structure covers SS 304, 120-140 grit finish outside
2. Top cover assembly
Position Above top plate
Specification Enclosure with acrylic doors
Material of support frame Aluminium anodised, Phoenix Mecanno make
Surface Finish Satin finish
3. Drive assembly
Position Below the top plate for performing various operations
Specification Drive assembly
Material Alloy Steel
Timer belt HTD 8 mm pitch
Timer pulley En 19
Cams En 36
4. Turret Assembly
Position Cylindrical disc above Machine top, holding cap & body bush holders.
Specification Turret assembly
Material Aluminium casting
Surface finish Electroless nickel plated
5. Loader Assembly
Position Above machine top plate to load empty capsules in bushes.
Specification Loader assembly
Material Aluminium / Half hard brass / SS 316 L
Surface finish Black hard anodised / electroless nickel plated / mirror polished
6. Powder filling Device
Position Above machine top plate to provide powder for filling operation.
Specification Powder filling device
Material SS316 L / Polycarbonate
Surface finish Mirror polished
6.1 Pellet filling Device
Position Above machine top plate to provide pellets for filling operation.
Specification pellets filling device
Material SS 316 L / Polycarbonate
Surface finish Mirror polished
7. Pin plate assembly
Position Above machine top plate to perform various operations like closing, ejection,bush cleaning, removing unopened capsules.
Specification Pin Plate assembly
Material Alloy steel / SS316 L
Surface finish Electroless nickel plated / mirror polished
8. Limit switches
Specification Door safety switches 1NO + 1NC
Position Aluminium plate of top cover assembly
Manufacturer Essen
Model no. MBC 1
9.Proximity switches (capacitive)
Specification  Powder low level switch
Position  Powder tub
Manufacturer IFM
Model no. KG5010
Sensing range 10 mm
10.Proximity switches (inductive)
Specification To provide signals for various operations.
Position Cam switch box
Manufacturer TAP
Model no. GLP-12APS
Sensing range 1 mm
11.Filter regulator
Specification To provide filtered air at a set pressure
Position Inside structure
Manufacturer Airmatic
Model no. B13-023 / PB / RK
Accuracy 5 microns
12.Vacuum valve
Specification ON / OFF valve for vacuum for capsule loading
Position Inside structure
Manufacturer Univer
Model no. AG-3232
Range 610 Torr- 0.5 Torr
13. Pressure switch
Specification Air pressure switch
Position Inside structure
Manufacturer Indfoss
Model no. Indfoss PR SW IPS 100
Range 0-100 psi
14. Pressure Gauge
Specification For Operating Air Pressure 0-10 bar
Position On FRL unit inside structure
Manufacturer M/s. Uday
Model No. Dia 40 mm
Accuracy ± 2%
15. Vacuum Gauge
Specification Vacuum Gauge
Range 0 to -30” Hg
Position On structure
Manufacturer Manometer
Model No. Dia. 63 mm
16. Main motor
Position Inside structure
Manufacturer Bharat Bijlee
Type 1.5 HP, 3ph AC Brake motor Frame 100L 750 rpm
Protection Class IP 54
17. Powder stirrer motor
Position Inside structure
Manufacturer Hindustan( custom built)
Type 0.25 hp 3 ph, AC motor Frame 63, 1500 rpm
Protection Class IP54
18. Gear box for powder stirrer motor
Position Inside structure coupled to powder stirrer motor
Manufacturer Shanti
Specification SA112, 30:1 FL-63 I/P – horizontal, O/P -Vertical
19. Machine mount
Position Below structure
Manufacturer Avmac
Specification NAV 08 M16 x 1.5
20. Pneumatic Cylinder
Position Inside turret well, Exit chute
Manufacturer Rexroth, Festo
Specification Compact cylinder 20 mm dia 4 mm stroke, DG 6-10, Part no. 3620
Operating pressure 6 bar
21. Solenoid valve
Position On pneumatic panel inside structure
Manufacturer Festo
Specification Single solenoid MFH-3-1/8
Single solenoid MFH-3-1/8 SEU -11121
Operating pressure 6 bar
22. Lubricator
Position On pneumatic panel
Manufacturer Airmatic
Specification Upto 12 kg / cm2 max.
Model no. ML-10-02
23. Chain
Position Drive assembly, Cam switch box
Manufacturer Rollon
Specification 3/8″ pitch
24. Filter bag of ADU 100
Position Inside drum
Manufacturer RP
Filter Quality 5 microns
Filter material Synthetic fiber
Filter area 5579 cm2
25  PLC
CPU Make Mitsubishi
Model Fx 2N-32-MT
PLC Input / Output 16 Input / 16 Output
26. MMI
Make E – 300
Position On the pendant control box
Manufacturer Beijer
Keyboard RS-232, RS 422 Port
Serial interface 320 x 240 Pixels
Supply Voltage +24 VDC, +/- 20%


1          Electrical
Phase 3 Phase
Voltage 415 V
Frequency 50 Hz
Power (only machine) 2 kW
Power (with a vacuum pump, air compressor, and ADU100) 8 kW
2          Compressed Air
Consumption (pneumatic parts)
Flow pressure 6 bar (Kg)
Quality oil, water & dust free
Residual moisture content < 5.5 g / m3
Particle size 0.1 um
Residual Oil < 1 ppm
Max. Consumption 225 lpm
Power (Air compressor motor) 2.2 kW
3          Vacuum requirement
Vacuum pump
Flow 575 lpm
Pressure 26 inches of Hg
Power ( Vacuum pump motor) 1.5 kW
4        Air Displacement Unit
Flow  2800 lpm
Maximum vacuum 500 mm of water
Power ( ADU100 motor) 1.5 kW


In the Capsule filling machine, the following items need calibration. They shall be calibrated during / before installation of the equipment at the site:

Following are the components:

Pressure Measurement (Operating Air Pressure gauge)

Vacuum measurement ( vacuum gauge)


Component Description MOC Surface Finish
Capsule Hopper SS 316 L Mirror polished
Magazine Aluminium Hard anodized
Cap bush SS 316 L Mirror polished
Body bush SS 316 L Mirror polished
Powder hopper SS 316 L Mirror polished
Powder tube SS 316 L Mirror polished
Powder tub SS 316 L Mirror polished
Dosing disc SS 316 L Mirror polished
Tamping pins SS 316 L Mirror polished
Closing plate SS 316 L Mirror polished
Exit chute SS 316 L Mirror polished
Grommets Silicon ——————


Component Description MOC Surface Finish Area cm2
Capsule Hopper SS 316 L Mirror polished 1500
Magazine Aluminium Hard anodized 100.4
Cap bush SS 316 L Mirror polished 36.1
Body bush SS 316 L Mirror polished 75
Powder hopper SS 316 L Mirror polished 2174
Powder tube SS 316 L Mirror polished 282.7
Powder tub SS 316 L Mirror polished 740.9
Dosing disc SS 316 L Mirror polished 564.1
Tamping pins SS 316 L Mirror polished 68
Closing plate & pins SS 316 L Mirror polished 339.2
Exit chute with cover SS 316 L Mirror polished 1297.2


The various operations of capsule filling take place at eight stations of the turret.

At station 1, capsules are loaded in the bushes. The cap bush holder plate and body bush holder plates are exactly above one another. The capsules are rectified, i.e. Cap up and body down position, and loaded in the bushes. They are separated by a vacuum.

At station 2, the cap bush holder plate is lifted partially & body bush holder plate is “in” position.

At station 3, the body bush holder plate is fully out and the cap bush holder plate is partially up. This station is made for pellet filling or tablet filling.

Station 4 is meant for powder-filling operations.

At station 5, unopened capsules are ejected out.

Station 6 is for the closing operation of capsules.

Station 7 is for the ejection of capsules and

Station 8 is for cleaning the bushes.


Powder filling:

Speed of machine 108 strokes per minute,

No. of capsules in one bush segment 1

Output per hour   = 108 x 1 x 60  = 6480 capsules / hour

Pellet filling:

Speed of machine 85 strokes per minute,

No. of capsules in one bush segment  1

Output per hour = 85 x1 x 60  = 5100 capsules / hour

Powder filling, Pellet filling outputs are theoretical based on standard powders, pellets. The actual outputs depend on the actual  formulation, type and mesh of pellets.


Electrical power

A)Main motor = 1.1 kW

Powder feeder motor = 0.18 kW

Total kW = 2.0 kW (rounded off) for machine only

Electrical power consumed = 2 x 0.9 x 1 = 1.8 kWh / hr Max.

Considering 60% normal utilisation Electrical power consumed = 2 x 0.9 x 0.6 = 1.08 kWh / hr Min for machine only

Vacuum pump motor = 1.5 kW

ADU100 motor  = 1.5 kW

Air compressor motor = 2.2 kW

Total kW  = 8.0 kW for a machine with a vacuum pump, ADU100, and air compressor.

Electrical power consumed    = 8 x 0.9 x 1    = 7.2 kWh / hr.

Max considering 60% normal utilization Electrical power consumed = 2 x 0.9 x 0.6 = 4.32 kWh / hr Min. for machine with  ADU, vacuum pump, and air compressor.

Compressed air consumption:144 lpm


Regular and proper lubrication is essential to prevent premature wear and break downs. Only recommended lubricants should be used. Recommended lubricants and their equivalents are given in table below.

All lubricating oils must be changed, for the first time, after 200 hours of operation. The subsequent oil changes should be as given in Table. Whenever oil change is undertaken original oil should be drained out completely before refilling.  The sumps and strainers should be cleaned whenever the oil is replaced.  Greasing to the drive parts is to be done

Turret well is filled with food grade grease. This is a must as it is in the pharma zone of the machine.

Loader shafts and pin plate shafts have linear up and down motion for giving motion to magazine, closing pins, ejection pins, bush cleaning pins and unopen capsule ejection pins. These shafts are guided in housings fitted with bearings. Special wiper seals are provided on top of the housings to prevent the oil traces to come out. However due to continuous operation and if seals are worn out over a period of time there are chances of oil traces to come out from these portions.

Lubricants are used at different locations as recommended in the table below.





(Inside the cover)

200 / 200


White PTFE

(Food grade)



Visual check (Turret cover removed)
Vacuum Pump (Capsule separation) 200 / 1500 hours Oil SAE 30, Non-food grade) 1.8


Oil level indicator
Gear Box 200 / 1500


Oil SAE 90 ,(Non-food grade) 0.3


Oil level



  1. The speed of the machine has to be reduced for pellet filling and tablet filling operations.
  2. It is not possible to fill odd-shaped tablets due to the feeding problems of tablets.
  3. Two tablets of the same size only can be filled. 

Change in the agreed design shall be addressed through the well-defined Change control procedure.




CGMP current Good Manufacturing Practices
cGEP Current Good Engineering practices
AISI American Iron & Steel Institute
SS Stainless Steel
CFM Cubic Feet Per Minute
KW Kilo Watt
DQ Design Qualification
MMI Man Machine Interface
MOC Material of Construction


  1. Manufactures Brochure (s) / Manual (s). (Title and Location).

To be supplied with the Installation qualification documents

1. Instruction & Maintenance manual
2. Calibration certificates
3. Material of construction certificates
4. Instruction manual for PLC
5. Test certificates of motors
6. Certificates of boughtout items.

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About Pharmaceutical Guidanace

Ms. Abha Maurya is the Author and founder of pharmaceutical guidance, he is a pharmaceutical Professional from India having more than 18 years of rich experience in pharmaceutical field. During his career, he work in quality assurance department with multinational company’s i.e Zydus Cadila Ltd, Unichem Laboratories Ltd, Indoco remedies Ltd, Panacea Biotec Ltd, Nectar life Science Ltd. During his experience, he face may regulatory Audit i.e. USFDA, MHRA, ANVISA, MCC, TGA, EU –GMP, WHO –Geneva, ISO 9001-2008 and many ROW Regularities Audit i.e.Uganda,Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe. He is currently leading a regulatory pharmaceutical company as a head Quality. You can join him by Email, Facebook, Google+, Twitter and YouTube

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