Updating a Medical Packaging Process
PrimeTest Automation was contacted by a major medical component supplier to help develop a new system to bring extra capacity and more robustness to an existing product line.
The goal was to help the organization bring on a new line seamlessly while operating within the guidelines of existing protocols and coordinating with another specialty automation vendor.
Their two current lines were aging and required significant maintenance and constant adjustment to keep running. In addition, the existing systems required operator labor in the inspection and final packaging process. The customer was interested in including many process improvements in the final design. One of these improvements was installing an automated secondary packaging process. This task was currently being completed by an operator requiring every assembly to be touched by hand, allowing for the potential of errors and damage. Additionally, the new automation needed to account for the higher speed production required by the new upstream process.
Beyond constant handshaking with upstream automation, the overall system required an exacting process with very tight tolerances for packaging, full product inspection, and detailed reporting. PrimeTest Automation was asked to incorporate some of the latest technologies in vision, part handing, and controls to help update and improve their current process.
Utilizing a combination of custom mechanically engineered feeding systems, servo actuators, Fanuc robotics, and the latest in vision technology tools, PrimeTest Automation was able to provide many improvements and strengthen their existing process.
Our solution included a smooth-acting Intelligent Actuator as the base component for a carton erecting system creating a fluid process that would form a container well within the required tight tolerances.
A Cognex camera solution was integrated to provide vision inspection of the custom label application and provide 100% inspection of placement as well as required lot/serial tracking information.
A Fanuc SCARA robot was then utilized to provide placement of the product into the carton – a process that required both rapid and smooth transfer.
PrimeTest included an Allen Bradley ControLogix PLC to provide machine control, as well as up and downstream communications.
A custom PanelView HMI provided easy access to the tuning tools and quick system status feedback to the operator. PrimeTest coordinated and integrated our system seamlessly by working directly with the other specialty automation supplier, allowing the coordination of signaling and communications required by the two systems over a common platform.
The new system automated the process of placing the outer packing and inspection of final packaging, removing significant labor from the current method. This automation eliminated areas for potential operator errors and increased the efficiency of the overall process.
Finally, a PrimeTest quality engineer, combined with our controls engineering, and mechanical engineering groups, provided all the Detailed Design Specification, Factory Acceptance Test, and Site Acceptance Test documentation that the customer will use to qualify this system through for FDA approval.
The system is still in the FDA qualification stage but extremely successful results from our FAT, onsite installation, and SAT give strong indications of a great automation delivery with the customer already discussing future systems.