Case Study: Accurate Pharma Package Inspection Amcor

October 01, 2012 -- Increased Accuracy, Not Costs: CI-Vision Inspection For years, pharmaceutical packaging manufacturer Amcor Pharmaceutical Plastic USA relied on representative sampling for quality control, which left them open to random variations, quarantine and lost production.

Today, with CI-Vision, they inspect 100% of their products, resulting in enhanced productivity, reduced costs and worldwide recognition of their excellent quality product. Strict regulation of the pharmaceutical industry is critical: Even the slightest manufacturing deviation can change a medication’s safety and efficacy. Similarly, if a product is not packaged properly, it may become contaminated or lose potency. Quality control for pharmaceutical packaging is as important as quality control for the medications they store and transport. Random Sampling Proves Ineffective Amcor Pharmaceutical Plastic USA historically relied on random manual inspection to ensure its customers’ specifications were met. But random sampling—which only inspected a small percentage of packages coming off the line, leaving Amcor exposed to rework, product quarantine and retailer complaints—repeatedly proved ineffective. As a world-class pharmaceutical packaging manufacturer that places consumer safety as a top priority, Amcor’s ability to tolerate defects was minimal. After all, packaging represents the last line of communication between a healthcare provider and patient. Amcor’s manufacturing accuracy was and continues to be critically important to protecting both the wellbeing of end patients and the company’s reputation. Increase Headcount, or Automate? Amcor considered two options for increasing their inspection percentage for empty bottles. They could increase their labor force and add manual inspectors for an approximate 80% inspection rate—or they could automate using a comprehensive vision solution program to achieve an airtight 100% inspection rate.

Ultimately, after weighing costs and benefits, Amcor consulted with METTLER TOLEDO CI-Vision to develop a high-performance, in-line inspection system, eliminating the need for manual inspection altogether. The vision system never tires, or misses a bottle. Plus, this enhancement allowed Amcor to re-deploy quality inspectors to other areas of the company to further enhance productivity; and, perhaps more importantly, eliminated the need for additional personnel. Comprehensive, Reproducible Inspections The visioning tools employed at Amcor have a unique ability to immediately identify many bottle variations including neck thread integrity, neck shape, skewedness, planarity, impurities and character verification. Amcor chose a fully-automated solution that provides 100% detection for both selected bottle dimensions and contamination defects. Telecentric lens technology—which accepts light in a straight line, rather than in a distorted “cone” shape, as with conventional lenses—offers the sharpest possible image quality to ensure reproducible, accurate inspection. This also allows clearer determination that neck threads are complete, not notched, and the top plane is absent of the kind of molding flash that impacts sealing, which can aggravate a client’s fill-line operators. Easily Established Inspection Protocols With CI-Vision expert support and highly-intuitive software, Amcor’s customized vision inspection solution was in-plant and operational quickly. Thanks to this inspection system implementation, Amcor is dynamically measuring product specifications for 100% of its product ensuring the highest level of quality control for reduced costs, fewer recalls, and increased customer confidence.

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