Automation Solutions for the Pharmaceutical Industry
Pharmaceutical manufacturing is a hybrid industry with almost a 50/50 split on process and discrete manufacturing processes. Process automation system applies in the primary manufacturing of API (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients). In the secondary manufacturing of formulation and packaging, both process and discrete automation technologies apply (ie. compounding, filling, washing, labelling machine, and packing).
Automation in secondary manufacturing is characterized by the physical properties of drugs, its packaging and its final form. Physical properties can be classified as solids or liquids. With solids, powders have to be formulated to its final dosage through process steps such as weighing, blending, granulating, tableting, capsuling, and filling into bottles. Liquids have to be formulated in a stirring vessel, filled into vials, ampoules, or containers.
These process steps are done with automatic machines requiring reliable, repetitive, coordinated and precise motion controls. These machines are equipped with human machine interfaces to aid in the operations and production lines. As part of production quality control, automated inspection machines are also deployed to ensure quality of the formulation and final packaging by weight, level, vision, etc. These products will end up in final packaging for shipment. Besides conveyor systems and electro-mechanical machines used at this stage, robotics technology is sometimes employed as well.