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May 16 2013 -- Pharmaceutical companies often assemble medical syringes by hand. Manual
assembly is time-consuming, potentially dangerous and lacks the repeatability and
reliability of an automated solution.
Automation GT was asked by a leading pharmaceutical company to design and
build a system to prepare needles for drug filling. This task was previously carried
out by hand, completing only a few per batch.
But how do you automate a process that handles needles with a tip smaller than a
Specialists in the design of micro-automation, Automation GT provided a dramatic
increase in productivity, with a state-of-the-art robot fed machine. To reduce the
safety risk associated with manual handling of needles, the machine plugs the end
of the needle to prepare it for backfilling with medicine.
The customer required an advanced pharmaceutical-grade system that would
deliver an accurate throughput of twenty units per minute. Built using stainless steel
for use in a class 10,000 (ISO 7) clean room, the machine is rapidly driven by a
precision pick-and-place pharmaceutical grade robot.
The machine handles needles with tips smaller than a pinpoint. Each needle is
covered by a sheath to protect the user from the sharp tip when manually handled
during transport. The robot swiftly selects a needle from the pallet, removes the
sheath and slides over to the orientator, which locates the bevel side of the needle
by rotating it vertically.
With rapid, purposeful motion, the robot takes the needle to the dispensing station
and a special biodegradable glue that is smaller than the ID of the recipient needle is
By dispensing the biodegradable glue, a seal is formed at the end of the needle,
which prevents medicine from spilling out when it is backfilled. When the needle is
being sealed it requires precise positioning - a high-tech vision system is employed
using two ultra-precise cameras - one for the X-axis and one for the Y-axis -
directing the robot using the precise coordinates for the correct location.
When the dispensing process is complete, the safety sheath is replaced back onto
the needle, to protect the user from lacerations from the tip when being filled with
medicine. The machine hands the operator the option to skip the sheath
replacement stage so that the factory-inspector can check 10% of the needles.
The system is controlled by a PLC multi-axis control system, which networks with
the human machine interface (HMI), Vision Inspection System and the Robot. The
HMI incorporated into the dispensing system allows the user to monitor the process
at all times, displaying run-time, machine yield and the total rate of good/rejected
With a strong reputation for automatic handling and inspection of ultra-small
components within Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology and Medical Device
environments, Automation GT delivered a fully-automated dispensing machine that
provided dramatic improvements in productivity and product quality whilst allowing
skilled labor to be re-deployed on less hazardous tasks.
Supported by a class-leading FDA documentation pack, the machine was
commissioned and seamlessly integrated into our client’s production facility
meeting all applicable UL inspection and certification standards.
About Automation GT
Automation GT design and manufacture machines for applications that are missioncritical
and that require exceptional precision and reliability. They have developed a
reputation for perfection through design.
Their core competence is built around automation. Combined with focus on design
excellence, this has facilitated growth in some of the world’s most advanced
Automation GT has long-standing relationships within industries such as the Life
Sciences - Pharmaceutical, Biotechnology, and Medical Devices.
Based in the innovation hub of Southern California, Automation GT reaches out
For any press queries, please contact Kristen Keelin:
T: 760 705 1652
Contact Automation GT:
1939 Palomar Oaks Way
Carlsbad, CA 92011
Telephone: +1 (760) 741-7288
FAX: +1 (760) 741-7269
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