The company says that the system's modular design can be custom made to typically comprise a robotic arm and specimen grippers, as well as a probe-cleaning unit. Designed for use with the company's TA.XTplus and TA.HDplus texture analysers, it is suitable for testing a wide range of products for both the pharmaceuticals and cosmetics industries.
UK-based Stable Micro Systems, which is one of the leading global players in texture analysis systems, claims that the system permits continuous monitoring, with little or no operator involvement. This not only results in a speedier testing process and more accurate results, by eliminating human error, but also allows technicians to focus on more sophisticated tasks.
The system links to software, which executes all instructions to automatically analyse each specimen and generate accurate, reproducible results. The specialist software supplied by the company can, for example, send a message to the robotic arm and adaptable vessel gripper to place the sample in the test area for analysis.
Once the testing is complete, dry products such as tablets are then removed by the robotic arm and replaced by the next sample for analysis. For wet products such as gels or creams, the system's automated probe-cleaning device is activated immediately following testing, moving the probe into a cleaning unit located on or near the texture analyser. Multi-angled jets of washing solution are triggered to remove all residue and compressed air is released to dry the probe in preparation for the next sample.
Jo Smewing, applications manager at Stable Micro Systems, said: "Our newly-developed automated system has been designed specifically to meet customer-defined test requirements. It allows manufacturers to increase productivity and reduce costs during quality control and testing procedures and provides reliable and repeatable data for a range of applications."
The company's windows-based Exponent software, linked to the company's texture analysers and automated device, conducts standard as well as more complex tests. It enables configuration parameters such as test speed, degree of deformation and data acquisition monitoring to be set. In addition, the software's enhanced security module is said to offer advanced security and reporting features. Restricted access and improved data logging and protection have been incorporated and data is stored automatically for comprehensive analysis at a later stage.
Smewing also emphasised that the new system has been developed in answer to growing demands from the cosmetics and pharmaceutical sectors to uphold quality standards whilst providing benchmarking information.
"Consumers' increasingly demanding expectations from products are a key driver for the need for texture analysis in the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries," Smewing stated. "For example, in the pharmaceutical industry, mucoadhesion testing of drug delivery systems using a texture analyser allows tablets to be accurately tested in conditions similar to those in which they are normally found (eg in the GI tract). In the personal care and cosmetics sectors, the softness of moisturising cream or the friction of shaving foam on the skin can be assessed to achieve the required texture. By accurately testing a product's texture, manufacturers are able to make their products as effective as possible for consumers while remaining simple and pleasant."
Texture analysis is a vital part of both research and development as well as quality analysis of liquids and creams for cosmetics and pharmaceutical applications. Obtaining the correct texture can help improve both efficacy of the product as well as product appeal.