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Ensuring quality with futuristic vision inspection technologies

“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after low pricing is forgotten,” said author Leon M. Cautillo. What the author intends to point out is the increasing emphasis of quantity over quality. However, modern day businesses don’t want to compromise on either. Instead, they look at world-class vision inspection technologies to ensure that products roll out at higher than ever speeds, with minimal investment, but without defects.

However, how does one understand, evaluate and choose the best available solution, ideal for their industry requirements? But before addressing this question, it is important to educate oneself with vision inspection technologies.

Camera to Inspection to Savings

Vision systems or inspection technology, commonly known as machine vision, is the perfect blend of hardware and software. The camera forms the core of the hardware, along with lens, filters and many others. The software is usually a customized-version of the service provider’s proprietary solution, designed specifically to meet the customer’s needs. But what does the camera, software, lens, and other technical mumbo-jumbo mean for a businesses’ bottom-line?

Vision inspection systems ensure manufacturers continue to cost-effectively comply with evolving safety standards and ensure product quality. How? Fitted onto a manufacturer’s packaging lines, these cameras detect anomalies like broken product, defective product, empty packing, wrong product, etc. These cameras capture every product image that passes through the packaging line, and verify it with a reference image of the product fed into the software. Any deviations from the “standard” would trigger an alarm for the system, and effectively, remove the faulty product.

Although machine vision solutions is utilized in almost every sector such as semiconductors, electronics, packaging, medical devices, automotive, and consumer goods, its application in the pharmaceutical industry is crucial.

A Finer Look at Pharmaceutical Industry

Today, defects such as empty pockets in blisters, broken/chipped/ different tablets or capsules, misprinted codes, mislabelling, and many others, are detected easily with vision inspection systems. Currently, vision systems are adept in tracing defects in the following kinds of pharmaceutical packaging:

  • BlistersBlister inspection systems are the perfect answer to the challenging demands of making a foolproof, robust, easy-to-use as well as a good-looking blister.
  • CartonsCarton inspection solutions inspect code and batch printing details on cartons and leaflets at the time of packing on cartoning machines.
  • LabelsLabel inspection solutions inspect online / offline batch codes, and code on sticker labels, leaflets and cartons.

These vision inspection systems are capable of not only preventing defects and improve quality, but also offering insights into manufacturing and R&D departments on design, quality as well as product development. And, this stands very true for the pharmaceutical industry, where the difference between good quality and average quality could endanger millions of lives and tarnish brand reputation forever.

Future Trends

Traceability has become paramount for pharmaceutical companies. Track & trace solutions that monitor the entire process right from manufacturing to packaging of the drug are the solution to this problem. Not only do they serve as a protective layer of supply chain security, but also empower end-users to authenticate the genuineness at the point-of-purchase via an SMS. It also serves as an additional level of anti-counterfeiting measures that enable long-term return on investment (ROI) and track consumer insights.

The most typical trend that vision system suppliers see is for faster/smarter/smaller products every year. The suppliers are also challenged with better-equipping inspection systems of the future not just with improved hardware, but also highly-analytical and logical-driven software. There also seems to be a demand for increased camera resolution to meet specific application requirements, as well as a broad range of cameras.

Besides these features, it is vision inspection system suppliers’ imperative to ensure ease of use. Improving on this, along with entry-level pricing, is key to attract businesses that see inspection systems as an additional overhead cost rather than high-value return on investment vehicle.

Value vs. Cost Argument

The complexity involved in design, development and deployment of vision inspection systems makes them unique instruments in a pharmaceutical production plant. Integration with the existing packaging lines – primary, secondary and tertiary – is the key to unlocking the true potential of vision inspection systems.

With such advanced systems and technologies, it is ultimately a value vs. cost argument. A lapse in ensuring maximum level of tracking and traceability could leave major pharmaceutical companies at the risk of huge loss to brand value, massive lawsuits & product recalls, and, most importantly, patient safety. As an example, a pharmaceutical company was saved from FDA fines, lengthy trials as well as product recall costs worth millions of dollars, thanks to vision inspection systems that detected a subtle error in data matrix patterns.

But despite these ever-changing technological landscapes and decreasing human interference, one factor that significantly amplifies the effectiveness of a vision technology is a trusted and experience inspection solution provider. ACG Inspection (, a member of ACG Worldwide, is a highly-trusted service partner in hi-tech vision inspection systems.

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