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Problem:Inhalers are used to deliver airborne pharmaceutical drugs. Because they contain valuable and sometimes toxic ingredients, delivering accurate dosages is critical for patient care. As a result pharmaceutical companies must do extensive testing on inhalers in order to ensure that accurate dosing occurs when an inhaler is activated. When testing is performed by operators, it is very time consuming and labor intensive. Plus boredom induced inattention may lead to inaccurate recording of test results.
Solution:Using an EPSON robot as the material handling device, Novi Systems Ltd., an English automation company, developed a workcell that automatically test inhalers and records the test results. Called ICTUS - the Automated Andersen, the cell performs all the material handling, testing, result recording and equipment clean-up previously done manually.
An operator loads a tray of inhalers into the cell, pushes "Start" and walks away. The robot picks up the inhaler, weighs it, prepares the dose (by shaking or other means according to the requirements of the inhaler) and introduces the dose into the impactor for firing. The final robotic handling operation is to move the inhaler back to the weigh station so that the before and after weights can be compared in order to determine the size of the delivered dose. With this data the pharmaceutical company knows how much medicine each inhaler shot delivers to a patient.
- 500% increase in testing throughput
- 97% reduction in cost per test
- Significantly reduced labor costs because cell runs unmanned
- Faster reporting of test results
- Lower rejection rate of production batches because of improved reliability of results
- Less material wastage from overspray
- Improved safety because operators are removed from an environment that sometimes contains volatile solvents