"There are robotics for all the steps, it's just a matter of getting them more accepted into the industry," says Isberg. "Moving
toward automated processes, such as handling nested tubs, provides consistency, and the technology is becoming cheaper and
more standardized. You just have to get past the company's fear of automation so they can understand the advantages of it."
Because the entire process can take place inside a barrier system, engineers are redesigning automated equipment to be smaller
and narrower so as to provide operators an easy reach across them if necessary. Barrier systems not only protect the product
from contamination and product operators from potent compounds, they also may protect operators from the robotics units inside
the system. Isolator and RABs systems may be equipped with "light curtains" that detect when operators place their hands in
the gloves and shuts the machinery down. Barrier systems are also equipped with various online sensors for fill volume, headspace
analysis, particulate detection, and visual inspection.
"Those are all integrated into the filling system," says Isberg. "A lot of this technology wasn't available 10 to 15 years
1. B. Verjans, J. Thilly, and C. Vandecasserie, "A New Concept in Aseptic Filling: Closed-Vial Technology," Aseptic Processing, supplement to Pharm. Technol. (May 2005).
2. J. Zimmermann, "Advances in Aseptic Manufacturing," presented at PDA Emerging Manufacturing and Quality Control Technologies,
San Diego, CA, Jan. 30, 2007.