Application In chemical, pharmaceutical, and aseptic process equipment, process components and liquids must be transported from their storage tanks to a process reactor. It is of vital importance that these components are not spilled and that the wrong liquids are never introduced into the reactor, as this could result in costly process interruptions that must be prevented.
Small RFID read heads are mounted near the metal hose couplings. Reliable operation under harsh environmental conditions is assured.
Process security and prevention of downtime by eliminating the introduction of the wrong process components and liquids.
What has been done
Chemical plants typically utilize continuous process methods. Process interruptions and errors frequently result in significant yield losses and associated costs. In order to protect such processes with nearly 100% reliability, and to exclude any human and external machine introduced errors, the hose couplings are equipped with RFID technology. A hose connection with an incorrect process medium for the current process can be securely identified. The transport valves for this invalid connection will not open and the error will be clearly displayed, allowing an immediate response by the operators. Important for these kinds of applications are reliable RFID hardware components and RFID tags that can be flush mounted inside a protective metal collar. In food and beverage applications, hose and pipes are regularly flushed using sanitary cleaning solutions. In this case, it is also important to securely separate the cleaning agents from the food.
Monitoring hose connections with RFID guarantees the introduction of the right material at the right time and assures that the correct measuring equipment is used for the process.
Significant advancements in imaging capabilities have occurred recently in CT (Computed Tomography) scan technology. Improved image resolution, larger image process receivers, along with the data capability of computers and control systems, enables CT scans to be more detailed and thus more useful for accurate diagnosis. But capitalizing on these improvements also demands more precise control of the imaging process.
The need for more precise control
Internal organs move with the respiration of the human body. Capturing larger areas with the new imagers can successfully account for such movement, but getting a high-resolution picture of the wrong area or at the wrong time isn’t useful. So to obtain the most helpful images one needs to position the imager at the right place and at the right time. The image reception is done in segments (called slices) and has seen increases from 4 to 16 and up to 128 slices. This 4-fold increase each time yields smaller more detailed data, but what does this mean for the control system? Image technology increases will require the control to be more precise. When the imaging components were limited to 4 slices, previous control was likely to have been completely adequate but blurring became evident as the picture data was more detailed, limiting the advancement.
In order to take advantage of a 16 time increase in data, the control system has to improve. Without control improvements, no net gain would occur. Advancements in image resolution are continuing to improve and resolution is increasing. The servo technology behind Kollmorgen’s AKD™ control schemes will be irreplaceable for these advancements.
VISUAL INSPECTION SYSTEMS Solution: Gateway Solutions Company: SPAMI/Stevanato
Anybus® X-gateways provide a link between smart cameras with Ethernet connections and Siemens PLCs on a Profibus network
Production of glass containers for pharmaceutical use SPAMI, a company forming part of the Stevanato Group, has developed an inspection system to improve the quality of glassware. It uses quality control technologies to screen the glass tubing on arrival at the plant as well as the final product. The system includes a visual inspection system (NoVIS), a system for continuous temperature measurement, and also a digital image processing system, called CLEANER, which is able to detect and remove defects in the glass as small as a few microns in the final product. The fully integrated process machinery provides measurement of glass tube diameter, wall thickness, and temperature using infrared pyrometers (Pyrometer Annealing control) for total quality control, and motorised burners provide close control of their positioning. Read more about this case study.
Genzyme, which is a world leader in biotechnology, is creating a new polyclonal antibody production site. This is an innovative production facility: The process has been automated as far as possible, to reduce human error in the many stages of the process (separation, purification, filtration, ultrafiltration, haemadsorption etc.) This involves being able to interface with a battery of very mixed laboratory equipment, which was not initially designed to communicate with fieldbuses.
Genzyeme has used about 30 HMS Anybus communicator gateways, to enable consistent SCADA management across all the devices in use. Read the full solution
Automated Systems of Tacoma, Inc. (AST) was asked by a life science research company to develop an alternative to conventional pharmaceutical filling machinery having the capability to fill and finish all their small-scale clinical trial products with a single flexible platform.
To solve this problem, AST had to develop a machine with the flexibility to be able to handle various sizes of prefilled syringes, vials, cartridges and IV bags with minimal product changeover times.
The basic concept is a system that positions ready-to-use “nests” of a particular container within the operating envelopes of two robots, the Cognex In-Sight® Micro vision system is used to precisely locate each container and stopper and provide the robots these locations prior to processing.
This approach allows for rapid changeover from one container type or size to another by loading a new robot program, replacing the products carriers, and instructing the robot to change out the end of arm tooling. The system’s use of disposable materials is used on all process contacting parts which also reduces the changeover time, and eliminates the risk of cross contamination.
Integration of vision and robotics is critical. Read more about this success story
Ackley Machine Corporation, a global leader in tablet, caplet, capsule (hard and soft), and candy printing technology based in Morristown, NJ, USA was confronted with a serious challenge to its tablet printing business. Ackley Machine needed to be able to inspect all printed products in order to identify and reject bad items to comply with the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) mandate that each printed tablet be identifiable. The company’s existing technology was not suitable for meeting this requirement, being too time consuming and too costly. Ackley solved this problem by switching to Cognex In-Sight® vision systems, a solution that incorporates both camera and image processing in a single enclosure.
“Switching to a new vision system now requires only a short and simple validation procedure that ensures the new vision system provides the same functionality as the old one,” said Mark Ford, Engineering Manager for Ackley Machine. “The In-Sight vision system also is much easier to program because its PatMax® pattern matching algorithm easily finds the printed image on the tablet with a single command.” Ackley deployed this solution in its latest system, which prints and inspects over 400,000 tablets per hour, much faster than other machines, while providing unique single tablet rejection capabilities.
Manual inspection of a 4-inch wide, 8-inch circumference elastomeric band is difficult because there is no objective way for a human inspector to determine what is or is not a defect. In general, defects are areas that are darker or lighter than the surrounding material.
The method was automated with two Cognex In-Sight® 5000 series vision systems that completely inspect a band in 16 seconds. The systems capture several images of each section of the band. The first few images are used to adjust the gain to compensate for possible thickness variations caused by stretching of the band as it is rotated in front of the cameras.
We developed an objective specification for defects based on machine vision parameters and demonstrated the ability to repeatably inspect bands based on that specification fast enough to enable 100% inspection,” said Daryl Greywitt, Vice President and Technical Director for Invotec.
The vision system has demonstrated the ability to improve inspection consistency while reducing inspection costs.
In order to improve product traceability, prevent counterfeiting and isolate the source and extent of safety and quality control problems, Marlton, NJ-based supply chain software and services provider Acsis worked with Cognex to respond to the emerging serialization mandates and requirements facing their pharmaceutical industry clients. Acsis and Cognex delivered a serialized packaging data management (SPDM) solution designed to convert demand from the pharmaceutical manufacturer’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) system in order to drive individual packaging lines and production cells.
Serialization using SPDM is introduced throughout the manufacturing and packaging process by integrating with existing equipment. Smart camera vision systems such as the Cognex In-Sight 5605® 5MP are a small, but critical component used extensively in the serialization solution, not only to validate the presence, accuracy, and readability of the various labels, but also to ensure product safety and package integrity.
“The Acsis SPDM solution is currently an extension to our ProductTrak for Life Sciences solution that is installed at several major pharmaceutical companies,” Acsis Chief Technology Officer John DiPalo said. “This extension of the solution into the packaging area provides a cost-effective and easy-to-implement way to incorporate data serialization into new and existing packaging lines while maintaining existing machine speed and quality. Cognex vision systems play a critical role in our SPDM solution by providing a compact, fast, and accurate method of reading and verifying the quality of 2-D barcodes.”
Quality, accountability and product reconciliation are production mandates at Eli Lilly and Company (Indianapolis, IN), which is why the leading pharmaceutical manufacturer has automated its mechanical vial counting process. The system chosen would need powerful vision tools to meet the demand for accuracy and repeatability to comply with ever more stringent regulatory requirements. “Second, it had to be very simple to use, so operators with no vision experience could easily modify the inspection on-the-fly during product changeovers.”
A groundbreaking tray inspection system was developed using a color visual inspection process powered by In-Sight® machine vision systems from Cognex. This quality inspection system, dubbed TIS-3000, is reportedly the first fully-integrated tray inspection system for the pharmaceutical industry that combines machine vision with automatic tray handling, to enable one hundred percent accountability of products.
Cognex tools were more robust for this application than the other vision tools we evaluated, and the powerful pre-processing filters helped us achieve the desired inspection results. The Cognex vision tools provided the most robust solution.” The image pre-processing filter tools that other systems offered were not extensive enough to accomplish the inspection goals for the vial trays used by Eli Lilly. The total count of each tray was not repeatable and therefore not reliable. Filter tools could not easily be referenced together in order to obtain a refined pre-processed image. Also, to obtain real-time counts of a tray being inspected, additional front-end programming would be required within the other systems evaluated.