Automatica 2012 to shows solutions for medical, pharmaceutical and cosmetics

17 January 2012

Automation technology is being used increasingly in the medical, pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries, helping these industries to bring products to market more quickly and to achieve more economic production.

Visitors to Automatica 2012, the International Trade Fair for Automation and Mechatronics,
which takes place in Munich, from 22nd to 254th May, will be able to view a wide range of automation solutions for a gamet of needs.

Commenting on the availability of suitable robots and automation components for use in the medical, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics industries, Dr Andreas Pott group leader of Intralogistics at the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology and Automation (IPA) in Stuttgart, distinguished two kinds of requirements, which must be fulfilled depending on use. "Many robots must be suitable for production-related use under clean room conditions. Strict hygiene requirements apply to other uses, such as we know from the foodstuffs industry. These are both no problem for robot technology. Many companies provide especially designed models, which can also be certified correspondingly," he said.

Industrial machine vision has become established in many medical and pharmaceutical areas. Progress has been achieved, particularly, in colour processing and 3D vision, which opens up numerous new automation possibilities. Colour-processing vision systems, for example, are used in cytology or cytodiagnosis and pathology for tissue and carcinoma recognition. To detect complex structures such as cells and dendrites, however, reliable colour classification is required, which in turn requires high-performance image-processing software.

3D procedures have also benefited from performance increases, which is making medical image analysis increasingly important. Using the light-slit method, for example, a drilled tooth can be scanned three dimensionally using a laser line, which produces a 3D module of the inlay to be produced. Then a robot precisely grinds the dental restoration based on this model.
In the pharmaceuticals industry, machine vision is primarily used for quality controls in manufacture of drugs. Its responsibilities include monitoring crystal growth and fill levels of ampoules. The colour of tablets and the absence of damage to blisters can also be checked using modern vision systems. There is even a suitable solution for package inserts and packaging with print image control.

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