February 22, 2022
Hardly any industry is subject to such stringent quality requirements and legal regulations as the pharmaceutical industry. These regulations apply not only to active ingredients, production and storage, but also to labeling. Labels must accurately represent the products, be easy to read, and stick reliably for a drug’s entire usability period.
Steierl-Pharma GmbH, a manufacturer of homeopathic complex remedies, needed to modernize its labeling process to ensure Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) compliance without causing machine stoppages. The company turned to Omron for an advanced vision solution that would inspect 100% of labels at high throughput.
The solution involved using Omron’s FHV7 smart camera as a key component of Steierl-Pharma’s new HERMA labeling machine. Let’s take a look at why the FHV7 was the ideal choice for this application.
The labeling process needed to continue at high speeds without stoppages
Steierl-Pharma’s previous labeling machine had been using a smart camera for inspections, but it was repeatedly classifying workable labels as bad labels. Furthermore, it would bring the process to a halt when detecting a “bad” label instead of simply rejecting it. This created frequent bottlenecks that affected downstream processes.
For this reason, the manufacturer sought a new system that would have both high sensitivity and high specificity. This means that bad units – such as an incorrect or illegible barcode or an error in the batch data or expiry date – should be detected reliably, but the system must only flag as “bad” any units that actually have problems and subsequently eject them.
On top of this, the inspection tasks must be completed within milliseconds to maintain an output of 60 labels per minute. Along with a filling and capping machine and a packaging machine, the labeling system is part a line designed for around 3,600 units per hour.
Omron’s advanced FHV7 smart camera
Steierl-Pharma decided to use the Omron FHV7 smart camera after testing it on some label material onsite. With the help of the FHV7, the HERMA machine checks the identity of the label based on the pharmaceutical code and verifies batch and expiration data via OCV (optical character validation) for compliance with the specifications.
Thanks to the world’s first multi-color light (an Omron innovation) and a powerful high-resolution 12-megapixel camera, only a single FHV7 camera is needed to perform high-precision visual inspections of the production line. The manufacturer is impressed with its high specificity and reliability with just 80 milliseconds per label inspection.