Vision system helps pharmaceutical companies solve label quality problems

For pharmaceutical companies, various regulations and routine production practices need to more accurately grasp the information in the production process. In addition, from an economical point of view, companies also hope that production will be more efficient. For the labels of pharmaceutical products, it is necessary to indicate the batch number, production date, and instructions for use.

One of the big problems with this is that devices that are sensitive enough to accurately detect and collect the reliable information needed are not necessarily able to withstand continuous production schedules. In this way, downtime and the cost of maintaining a sensitive inspection system can easily offset the time and manpower it saves.

One of the five largest pharmaceutical companies in the United States decided to solve this problem. They invited four vision system suppliers to perform online character verification (OCV) systems on one of the company’s primary production lines. Product Demo. The test is mainly to see the ability to detect the label, the speed of 120 bottles per minute, and the error rate during production can not exceed 1%.

One of the systems successfully completed the test. The visual inspection equipment was provided by a joint venture between Xyntek Co., Ltd. and Cognex, a world leader in visual inspection technology. As a result, the pharmaceutical company launched the test system called MVX-OCV to measure the quality of labels on blood glucose test strips.

The system runs on a Pentium PC with a Windows NT system and performs 200,000 tags per day in an effective monitoring environment. A 2 x 4 inch label is placed on a continuously moving roll and is added at a rate of one at a time while passing through a side-mounted charge coupled device (CCD) vision camera index. When each tag enters the camera's observing system, a logic controller that sets up the program activates the camera to capture the image of the entire tag. The image is sent to the vision system, where a special Xyntek-Cognex algorithm is used to detect whether each character conforms to the system's pre-defined attributes and determine that the tag is readable. The entire inspection process takes only 0.3 seconds (in fact, the system has the ability to detect the tag at 0.01 second/character speed).

Then there is the labeling procedure on the bottle. Success and failure messages are displayed on the PC and the process of labeling each bottle is tracked. The successful completion of the labeling of the bottle goes to the next operation—filling and unlabeled bottles are removed from the production line by a pneumatic device. The label is then torn off and the bottle is transported to the beginning of the line for reuse. The biggest feature of this system is that it is easy to install and user-friendly. It simplifies the training process and makes it easy for operators to master the application of the system. The operator simply uses the mouse to scroll through the product attribute library and select the test content to be performed. The system can detect certain dimensions and character features and is a must for large manufacturers because their labels use more than 5 different fonts. Once confirmed, the entire set of properties is stored in a specific folder on the computer and is started as soon as the test starts. Although the equipment is currently used only on a specific production line, the system has sufficient capacity to convert in several attribute libraries, enabling the device to easily perform retrofit adjustments on multiple product lines.

In addition, the device performs 100% detection of each attribute feature on each tag, and the vision system records the information in the control process for each tag. The cause of the error is recorded by a log and the "solidified" image of the last failed label is displayed. This information allows the operator to monitor the trend of the tag when it is in error and make adjustments accordingly, such as cleaning and replacing the print head, to solve the problem in time before more unqualified tags are produced.

Source: Industry Packaging Solutions

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