The pharmaceutical and food industries follow a number of standards in their production. Some of the standards include packaging safety, cosmetic suitability and the content of informative texts to the end user. In this article, we explained how you can use vision inspection technologies to adapt to standards and increase overall quality. A vision inspection project whose requirements are accurately analyzed and designed will undoubtedly play a key role in ensuring customer satisfaction and brand reliability.
Vision Inspection Technologies Commonly Used in Pharmaceutical and Food Production
Control of printing with OCR and OCV
Many industries print some information on products for the health of the end-user. Expiration date, usage, and allergy warnings are the most popular of this information.
Minor technical problems that may occur on the machine or printer that prints this information may cause the information to be misinterpreted by the end-user. A person who consumes the medicine or food by misreading the expiration date or allergen warnings will most likely deteriorate his or her health.
For this reason, it is necessary to control the information printed on the products or packaging in order not to endanger public health. This control is performed using OCR (Optical Character Recognition) and OCV (Optical Character Verification) technology in production lines. As can be understood from their names, OCR performs recognition and OCV performs verification. When these technologies are used with high-speed cameras and automation systems, products printed with incorrect information are automatically rejected from the production line, and public health is protected. Activities that will ensure that the consumer reads the expiration date and usage warnings correctly will undoubtedly increase the overall quality.
For an accurate OCR / OCV process, the print must first be designed in accordance with OCR/OCV technology. When making this design, it is necessary to consider parameters such as the width and the height of the print, character spacing, and contrast value. Where and how this information is printed on products produced by the pharmaceutical, food, and cosmetic industries is defined by the GMP rules. You can utilize the GMP guidelines of the industry you are involved in.
OCR/OCV Implementations in Pharmaceutical Production
The pharmaceutical industry, which has a mixed packaging process, uses OCR/OCV technology in almost every level of packaging. Due to the different qualities of packaging at the levels, it is necessary to use different vision inspection technologies and techniques in implementations. Especially, the reflection and brightness problems of materials such as aluminum and transparent film make the implementation unstable. VISIOTT inspection produces effective and stable solutions to OCR/OCV problems in all materials in the pharmaceutical industry with its products. For more detailed information, please contact our sales team.
OCR/OCV applications commonly used in the pharmaceutical industry are listed below.
Control of the expiration date written on the blister with an inkjet printer or embossed print.
Control of the expiration date written with an inkjet printer on the sachet.
Control of expiration date and lot information on the carton.
OCR/OCV Implementations in Food Production
The industry with the most variety of packaging is certainly the food industry. For this reason, different methods are used to implement information such as expiration date, production date, and lot to the packaging. Hot printing, continuous inkjet (CIJ), and Thermal Transfer are the most commonly used methods for printing on packaging in the food industry.
The surfaces of packaging used in food products are glossy. For this reason, the right choice of equipment used for image processing and illumination is vital for a stable OCR/OCV implementation. If possible, adapting the area to be printed on the packaging to vision inspection technologies will reduce implementation costs.
If you want to meet VISIOTT’s OCR/OCV technologies for all kinds of packaging and process, please contact our sales team.
Pharmacode Analysis and Identification
As its name indicates, pharmacode is usually used by the pharmaceutical industry. During the production of a drug, the correct blister, prospectus, carton, and label can be controlled using pharmacode in the entire production process. This control requirement is that errors and confusion that can be made in packaging involve irreversible public health risks. For example, placing a specific drug A to hypertension in a carton of a different B drug on the market cannot be detected by the patient and the pharmacy, and this error made by the manufacturer will cause damage to patients taking drug B, as well as the inability to treat it.
Laser or camera-based systems are used for pharmacode control in equipment used in pharmaceutical production. These systems segment thick and thin lines, then convert these lines to numerical value using binary arithmetic. Standards should be considered when creating thick and thin line combinations for packaging. Increasing or reducing lines by distorting the proportion will cause image processing algorithms to produce incorrect results. In addition, the close design of the area where pharmacode is implemented with OCR/OCV areas will allow both reading operations to be performed together.
As a result, the same pharmacode must be applied to materials such as carton, aluminum foil, prospectus, and label for each form of the drug to control that the packaging consists of the correct units. During the production process, the line must be stopped or the reject mechanism must be triggered by controlling this pharmacode. In scenarios where pharmacode cannot be read, the rejection must be performed, and when there is a certain number of consecutive rejections, the line must be stopped.
Presence/Absence Controls by Vision Inspection
One of the implementation areas of vision inspection technologies is presence/absence controls. This technology is often used to detect products that are on or inside a package. The detection of the missing or damaged tablet in the blister; whether there are missing parts of the mechanisms of drugs applied with a special kit is controlled with these systems.
Many pharmaceutical professionals are undecided between inspection and checkweigher technologies when controlling for presence/absence. Both technologies can be used to control the smallest units that form a drug. Conventional checkweigher systems are systems that can measure with an accuracy of 0.1 g and operate within a small standard deviation according to ambient conditions. It can easily determine whether a prospectus with a weight of 1.5 g or a blister with a weight of 10 g is in the box. However, it cannot detect the presence or absence of the nozzle located at the tip of the spray mechanism. In fact, the decision is such simple.
Below is an example of vision inspection that controls the presence of a tablet in the blister inside a carton.
Level Control for Liquid and Sterilized Drugs
Measurement of filling levels before packaging of pharmaceutical products, especially in liquid form, improves overall product quality. The drugs whose filling level is different from normal can be easily rejected from the production line by an inspection system which is suitable for bottles with transparent or amber color. In this way, it is guaranteed that the liquid drug is included in the bottle at the recommended dose for the patient by the doctor.
Please contact our sales team to discuss your projects with VISIOTT’s inspection technology experts.