By: Kevin Swartz, Sr. Engineer – Packaging SME; Len Pauzer, Sr. Process Engineer; and Tina Gushue, Process Engineer – IPS
As the medical field develops unique delivery systems and novel drugs, it creates new challenges for the industries that support them, such as packaging companies. Every year pharmaceutical companies are making breakthroughs in finding improved methods of delivering medicines to patients. An example of this is the increase in inhaled delivery systems for flu vaccination and some types of diabetic drugs which are assembled into kits. These new delivery systems require a unique packaging and assembling process that needs to be built. The need to package, inspect and material handle these products will only increase over time. This trend challenges the manufacturers of packaging and inspection equipment to assemble these products for delivery to the market in a safe and efficient manner.
Equipment vendors are responding to these challenges with custom equipment designs with more flexibility. They are introducing technologies such as multi-axis robots, which are easily programmable and flexible, to deliver components to the equipment. They are also configuring custom hoppers and conveying systems for orientation and presentation to these robots.
The orientation of these components within a kit or device is of the utmost importance.. Inspection systems and checks must be in place to verify components are present, properly oriented, and placed into the correctly designated space. Multiple inspection stations may be needed on a piece of equipment to verify that devices with many pieces are not rejected due to a presented component being missing or misoriented. New generation equipment will present the next properly oriented component to allow the device/kit to be completed rather than rejected.
At the completion of each device/kit, an overall inspection should be completed as a final quality check before secondary packaging operations. For example, device may be cycled to verify proper function before leaving the assembly equipment, or it may have one final vision or checkweigh inspection.
The new challenges being presented by the medical industry are being met by equipment manufacturers with new and innovative technology and design. Interphex 2015 will showcase the best of these equipment manufacturers and allow you to interface with them to discuss your upcoming applications.
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