Prior to a tray of vials being loaded in the freeze dryer, the number of vials needs to be counted and documented. Depending on the size of the vials, the number of vials on a tray can range from 100 to 225. Descrepencies between the manual count and actual count occur from time to time.
Due to the need for a continuous laminar airflow on the vials within the cleanroom, the vision system components could not be mounted directly above the vial tray. High-intensity side lights were deployed on the side of the tray. The vials would act as a light pipe allowing for sufficient contrast for the smart camera to identify and count the vials. The HMI of the software provided the Operator with an overlay for each bottle located, and a foot pedal allowed the Operator to acknowledge the count. The images were archived, and a PDF-generated report was saved to network storage at the end of the batch.
A large national conveyance company installed a conveyor and carton routing system. The Cognex Datamans (image-based barcode reader) ran well, but once the refrigeration system went online, the label reading on the cartons became unreliable.
Moisture and the cold environment caused the cartons' labels to wrinkle, and excessive packing tape by newly trained operators created hotspots on labels. An off-the-shelf cross-polarizing lighting assembly was unavailable at that time, so an existing dual lighting unit was modified with polarizing film and a polarizing filter added to the camera's lens.
A filler machine adds powder to a dose pouch. If the douce pouch is not properly opened, then the product is spilled onto the bottom of the machine.
Cognex InSight program was developed to profile the outside shape of the dose pouch. If the center gap distance and area were too small then the filling is skipped for that dose pouch.
Opiate Lozenges are sonic welded onto a plastic stick, inspected, and transferred to a packaging tray. An embossed number on the lozenge indicates the dosage of the product. The wrong or unreadable embossed number is considered a non-conformance. A chipped or cracked lozenge is also considered a non-conformance.
Cognex VisionPro was used to pattern match the embossed number; too low scores were rejected. Image processing tools masked out the embossed number, and edge detection algorithms were used to identify cracks/chips.
The product is placed by a robot into a thermoformed package. If the product is not properly placed into the individual pockets it can create a problem with the top foil seal.
Cognex InSight and pattern matching were used to verify the product was seated correctly in the individual pockets. The product line was stopped for non-conformance.
The lot and date code are printed on a label, and the label is applied to the bottom of the stick holding the opiate lozenge. Missing label, missing print, or incorrect lot/date code is considered a non-conformance.
Cognex VisionPro was used for verifying label placement and OCV of lot and date codes.
After the products have been loaded into a vacuum-formed tray, a top foil is applied. If the wrong foil has been loaded into the machine, and if gone unnoticed for a while, a whole batch of products would need to be destroyed. Sealed and unsealed products can not be repackaged.
A Cognex Smart camera was used to pattern match key features of the print on the top foil. Mismatches will signal to the PLC to stop the line.
RSS stacked codes are printed on the side of a pharmaceutical package. Readability is a must.
.Cognex Dataman was used to read the RSS stacked code, and when the quality grade of the printed barcode fell below a threshold grade, an alarm was signaled.
Tablet press machines over time require routine maintenance, and scheduling downtime can be a challenge. Having chipping or caping the tablet is considered a non-conformance and should be separated.
Cognex InSight camera located and fixtured image processing tools on the tablet. Blob detection tools were then used to locate edges in areas that should be quiet. Results were signaled to the PLC.
On pills/tablets with a surface coating, contract pharmaceutical manufacturers will print a brand/ID instead of making an imprint. Missing text or faded print is considered a non-conformance.
Cognex InSight smart camera located the print, and pattern matching scores were determined for individual characters. Pattern match scores below a specific threshold were rejected.