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Tiny trace detection at high speed for medical vials

A major pharmaceutical manufacturer relies on Cognex In-Sight vision systems

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A major pharmaceutical manufacturer relies on Cognex In-Sight® vision systems as part of their inspection machines designed to inspect small vials containing serum as well as detecting even the tiniest impurities within the serum. The In-Sight 5603 proved the only solution for this kind of sensitive high speed inspection.

IPF Ingenieria are based in Barcelona in Spain and manufacture special machines destined for high profile industrial customers. One particular customer, Fresenius Kabi, a global leader in infusion therapy and clinical nutrition, needed a special machine capable of tackling the challenge of inspecting small vials of serum. IPF provided them with a machine equipped with In-Sight vision systems from Cognex as recommended and integrated by Cognex partner, Edge Vision.  In this application, In-Sight cameras were installed to inspect the levels of liquid in vials of serum as well as inspecting for impurities at a speed of 10,000 bottles an hour.

Reliable detection even at 1mm

After having worked with different vision suppliers, IPF chose Cognex vision systems for their robustness under industrial duress. For this particular application, the In-Sight 5603 proved the only vision system capable. Why? The application demanded very high resolution vision in order to guarantee no impurities in the serum. When an impurity is as small as one square millimetre you need to know that the vision system you rely on can pick up traces this size. The speed of the 5603 and its ability to memorize inspections at the fastest line rates is remarkable and difficult to match.

10,000 bottles an hour

Each blister pack contains 5 vials of serum. Two machines are equipped with 2 In-Sight cameras. The vials pass along a conveyor where they are inspected by the cameras. In-Sight uses PatMax, the powerful Cognex vision tool for part finding and localization to locate the units of serum so each individual vial can be inspected for impurities. Any impurities detected result in the rejection of the pack. All inspected vials are sent for packaging. The vision solution is fully integrated into the company's quality management system. The user friendly development environment in In-Sight Explorer proved beneficial, allowing a convenient user interface for programming vision tasks.

Results and benefits

  • Speed – 10,000 bottles inspected per hour
  • Eliminates defects reliably at high speed
  • No false rejects
  • Easy to use
  • Easy integration to the company systems
  • Return on investment in a year and a half – through reduced labour costs

Following the positive results, IPF plan to install three more vision-equipped machines at Fresenius Kabi this year.

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