The filling of medical vials requires flexible automation equipment that can adapt to different vial sizes, colors and capping types. People are often deployed to make those equipment changes, which is also known as a recipe change. But by nature, people are inconsistent, and that inconsistency will cause errors and delay during change over.
Here’s a simple recipe to deliver consistency through operator-guided/verified recipe change. The following ingredients provide a solid recipe-driven change over:
Fixed mount and hand-held barcode scanners at the point-of-loading ensure correct parts are loaded.
Any machine part that must be replaced during a changeover can have a simple RFID tag installed. A read head reads the tag in ensure it’s the correct part.
Some feed systems require only millimeters of adjustment. Position sensor ensure the feed system is set to the correct recipe and is ready to run.
Guide rails and larger sections are adjusted with the use of hand cranks. Digital position indicators show the intended position based on the recipes. The operators adjust to the desired position and then acknowledgment is sent to the control system.
Sensor arrays can capture more information, even with the vial variations. In addition to vial presence detection, the size of the vial and stopper/cap is verified as well. No physical changes are required. The recipe will dictate the sensor values required for the vial type.
For label placement and defect detection, vision is the go-to product. The recipe will call up the label parameters to be verified.
Often used in conjunction with final inspection, traceability requires capturing the barcode data from the final vials. There are often multiple 1D and 2D barcodes that must be read. A powerful vision system with a larger field of view is ideal for the changing recipes.
All of these ingredients are best when tied together with IO-Link. This ensures easy implantation with class-leading products. With all these ingredients, it has never been easier to implement operator-guided/verified size change.