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3 Examples of Life Science Packaging Robotics

From robotic blister loading to label placement on corrugated cases, these three case studies highlight different ways robotics boost accuracy in production.

In Lundbeck's operation, a robot picks up one pipette for each carton of vials.
In Lundbeck's operation, a robot picks up one pipette for each carton of vials.

1. Pharmaceutical Industry Enlists Packaging Robotics

Two new robotic pick-and-place systems for pharmaceutical applications use a cobot and a 6-axis robot, respectively, to load blisters and to cap primary aseptic pharma packs.

Steriline’s Robotic 3D Control and Picking Solution.Steriline’s Robotic 3D Control and Picking Solution.

The rundown: Two new robotics systems meet needs for pharma—a cobot version of the TaskMate Robotic Systems Blister Loader from ESS Technologies and the Robotic 3D Control and Picking Solution (3D CPS) from aseptic processing provider Steriline. ESS Technologies’ existing line of TaskMate Robotic Systems integrates Fanuc multi-axis robots and ESS-designed end effectors to create pick-and-place solutions for a variety of applications. The new blister-loading system uses a Fanuc CRX-10iA cobot, a 10-kg-payload model with a 1,418-mm reach that is equipped with sensors and force controls to immediately stop the cobot’s motion if it contacts anything solid.

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2. Lundbeck Pharmaceutical's Turnkey Line Packs Ampules, Vials

This flexible system by Schubert runs 17 formats with a 30-minute changeover. Features include Transmodul robots and a Beckhoff XTS linear servo transport system. In Lundbeck's operation, a robot picks up one pipette for each carton of vials.In Lundbeck's operation, a robot picks up one pipette for each carton of vials.

The rundown: To modernize the packaging of medications for neurological diseases, Lundbeck sought a new packaging system for ampules and vials. The entire process, from carton and partition forming, to loading the pharmaceutical products and package inserts, to closing and labeling, is handled with the aid of the Transmodul transport robot. This creates a safe, secure, and closed packaging process. Following automatic separation, products are each loaded into a mover. Eight movers are grouped together at the cartoner’s loading robot. The robot’s tool can pick up 40 ampules or pipettes at once and pre-group them into units of 10. From these pre-groupings, another robot takes the required number for the cartons waiting in parallel on the Transmodul. The vials, already labeled, are then placed individually into the cartons.

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3. Integrator Project Sparks Switch from 'Hard' to Easy Automation

Leadership at PharmaMed Automation is steeped in robotics, but robot deployment was often deemed out of scope for its many custom, one-off, “hard automation” projects. Then a build came along that put robots more prominently on the menu of options.

The rundown: Integrator and OEM PharmaMed Automation was asked to build case labeling equipment for a manufacturer of liquid level sensors and alarm systems. PharmaMed designed and built a self-contained labeling cell with a color inkjet label printer, a 6-axis Epson robot, a custom label track, custom tool head, and a conveyor, with all logic residing in the robot’s built-in controller.Custom self-contained labeling cell with an Epson VT6L All-in-One 6-Axis Robot.Custom self-contained labeling cell with an Epson VT6L All-in-One 6-Axis Robot.

The ceiling-mounted VT6L robot picks up each label and applies it to the case, which is carried into position by a Dorner conveyor. The team designed and built their own pneumatic toolhead, which not only applies the label but then backs off and taps it to make sure it’s firmly applied. A sensor embedded into the toolhead verifies that a label is present, and then the system verifies that it’s been applied to the case. 

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Plus: Robots Emerge as Key Automated Technology for Brands

Robot technology is on the rise for CPGs, and related technologies like collaborative robots are carving out their own corner of the market.


 

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