Highly flexible pharmaceutical packaging
An extraordinarily flexible machine able to efficiently package different medical products into different containers: This is how OPTIMA has envisaged the future of pharmaceutical packaging and has now set out to turn its concept into reality. Three compact Stericlean robots from Stäubli manages these core tasks.
The system, developed according to a MultiUse concept by OPTIMA Pharma GmbH at their headquarters in Schwäbisch Hall, is able to handle different batch sizes and pharmaceutical products with ease. Medicinal products can be volatile or viscous, sensitive to oxidation or even aggressive. They may also contain highly active ingredients.
This flexibility is mirrored in the way the system manages containers. Production begins with three container types in the pipeline—syringes, vials and cartridges—all in ten different varieties. These varieties needed to be transported without format changes being made to the grippers or transport systems. The high value of the medicinal products also means other demands must be met. Yield functions such as re-filling and re-dosing are therefore equally important.
Robotics provide flexibility
OPTIMA handles these challenging requirements through several different, innovatively combined robotics solutions. Three highly precise TX60 and TX60L Stericlean six-axis robots, qualified to work under aseptic conditions, are used.
The first of the three robots removes sealed Tyvek cover lids from the tubs. The second removes the containers from the nest using a vacuum gripper and places them into the transport system. This is where they are moved into a zone for highly potent drugs.
The third Stericlean robot is responsible for ensuring that there are no empty spaces left in the tubs that may arise due to reject products being filtered out. It removes the containers from an oval-shaped conveyor and fills them to maximum capacity. That way, every tub is guaranteed to have been filled with the maximum quantity of 100%-checked syringes at the end of production.
Several robotic functions were produced in-house by OPTIMA. Thanks to the central programming of all associated robot systems forming the basis of the control architecture, a high level of transparency is provided, rendering all interface-related concerns superfluous.
Maximized Usage Times Mean the Highest Levels of Product Yield
A benefit of central programming: MultiUse machines will need to be adjusted to new challenges more frequently throughout their life cycle. If the user has a direct contact for programming, these adjustments are able to be made easier and certifications for amended processes are, therefore, also easier to manage.
Functions such as loading and emptying mechanisms, re-dosing on request, re-capping and re-stoppering mean users are able to process every last drop of their product and package it safely.
The highlight of the system is, however, its extraordinary flexibility, which is made possible thanks to the application of the latest automation hardware—including the three Stericlean robots. Another benefit: OPTIMA does not have a linear system layout, meaning users are able to take advantage of new opportunities for optimal space utilization. This is what defines the MultiUse concept, when used alongside Stäubli six-axis robots, the machine that will change the future of pharmaceutical packaging.