SP Hull Freeze Dryer Automatic Loading and Unloading Systems

Hull supplies patented, highly efficient, totally automated vial loading and unloading systems to facilitate the lyophilization of parenteral, cytotoxic, and other freeze dried products with special handling requirements.

Lyophilizer autoloading systems can be supplied and tested as an option with your freeze dryer order or retrofitted into an existing lyophilization suite.

Contact us to discuss your specific automatic loading and unloading requirements. We specialize in custom solutions.

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  • Lyophilizer Loading Trays

    Lyophilizer Loading Trays

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  • Simple operation
  • Fully integrated with lyophilizer control system
  • Supports 21 CFR Part 11 - Electronic Records and Signatures
  • Reduced manual vial handling
  • Increased vial count per load due to tighter packing
  • Product quality improvement through greater repeatability
  • Reduced bio-burden in Class 100 environments

Hull freeze dryer Automatic Loading and Unloading Systems (ALUS) are engineered to maximize product handling efficiency, eliminate operator intervention and associated contamination risks, and contribute to higher product quality and throughput. Hull provides two basic ALUS styles: Conveyor and Automated Vehicle.

    Conveyor Autoloading - Basic System Operation
  • Infeed station receives vials and accumulates them into one or more rows.
  • Infeed conveyor stops, sub-door opens, and the bridge plate docks with the shelf.
  • The vials are pushed onto the shelf, bridge plate undocks, and sub-door closes.
  • Infeed conveyor starts and cycle repeats until the shelf is fully loaded.
  • The next shelf is indexed into position and the cycle repeats.
  • Reverse process for unloading.
    Vehicle Autoloading - Basic System Operation
  • Infeed station receives vials and collates them into a shelf-load pack.
  • The pack is loaded onto the vehicle which conveys them to the Lyophilizer.
  • Dryer sub-door opens and the vehicle docks with shelf.
  • The vehicle discharges the vials and withdraws from the shelf.
  • The sub-door closes and the vehicle returns to the infeed station for a new pack.
  • Reverse process for unloading.


Basic System Operation

  • Infeed station receives vials and collates them into a single shelf-load pack
  • Transport vehicle moves a full shelf-load of vials each trip; the vehicle vial cage contains the pack during all movements
  • Dryer subdoor opens, shelves are indexed and transport vehicle docks with shelf
  • Transfer of vials onto shelf, then transport vehicle retracts and subdoor closes.
  • Transport vehicle returns to infeed collator for next pack of vials.
  • Reverse process for unloading.

The infeed and outfeed points can be together or separated with either system.

Comparison of Automatic Loading and Unloading Methods

Conveyor AutoloadingVehicle Autoloading
Shortest possible time from fill-to-shelf*
More uniform time fill-to-shelf per vial*
*varies with rows per push
More expensive to serve multiple lyophilizers
Requires more floor space to serve multiple lyos
Limits access to lyophilizer from front
More cost effective with multiple lyophilizers
Reduced floor space required with multiple lyos
Access to lyo from front is unobstructed
First vial filled in a pack is the last onto the shelf
More expensive for just one lyophilizer
Layout usually requires infeed, outfeed and lyos to be in a straight line.

A conveyor loader and a vehicle loader will generally have comparable loading rates and take approximately the same time to process a 12- or 15-shelf production load. One may take a longer or shorter time than the other depending upon your exact operating constraints. If vial fill-to-shelf time is critical, a conveyor-style loader is usually the best choice. If multiple freeze dryers need to be loaded from a central point, a vehicle system is usually better.