Quality Control Advances - Pharmaceutical Technology

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PharmTech Europe

Quality Control Advances
Highly automated and sensitive quality-control equipment quickly identifies product faults.

Pharmaceutical Technology
Volume 36, Issue 8, pp. 32-34

Contaminant detection

Today's metal detectors can locate smaller metal fragments. One system detects ferrous fragments as small as 0.25 mm with a 95 22 mm head. The machine is capable of checking up to 30,000 solid dosage forms per min and successfully locating metal fragments in difficult-to-inspect liquid gels or iron-containing tablets by filtering out the signal emitted by the product itself. A slightly less sensitive 95 38 mm head also is available (Insight PH pharmaceutical metal detector, Lock Inspection Systems).

Figure 2. An X-ray detector looks for foreign objects and checks package integrity (E-Z Tec XR-Pack X-ray detector, Eriez).
Contaminant-detection systems with X-ray technology can "see" a wide range of foreign objects. One family of advanced X-ray detectors offers mixed product and multilane inspection and count, seal, and weight confirmation. Other features include toolless disassembly for cleaning, compact 60-in overall length, low-profile design, and auto-learn mode for easy setup. One model is shown in Figure 2 (E-Z Tec XR-Pack X-Ray detector, Eriez). One of the latest models checks upright packages and containers from the side with a side-shoot beam rather than the up-shoot beam that is standard in other models in the group (E-Z Tec XR-SS X-ray detector, Eriez).

Another X-ray system detects sub-visual foreign particles in lyo cakes and suspensions in vials, ampuls, or syringes with a substantially lower false reject rate than traditional camera-based inspection systems. Detectable particle sizes include 20 microns for metal, 50 microns for glass and 90–100 microns for plastic or rubber. Capable of checking 200–400 products per min, the inline or standalone X-ray system can be integrated with modules devoted to headspace analysis and near infrared-based lyo cake moisture detection. Bubbles, which can be problematic for some inspection systems, are virtually invisible to the X-ray beam, which also can confirm proper needle alignment and check for missing stopper material or splintered glass, defects that would ordinarily be concealed by the crimp cap (Wilcomat X-Ray particle detector, Wilco AG).

Hallie Forcinio is Pharmaceutical Technology's Packaging Forum editor, 4708 Morningside Drive, Cleveland, OH 44109, tel. 216.351.5824, fax 216.351.5684,


1. J. Anderson, Easily Solve Three Common Quality Control Problems in Packaging with Vision Sensors, (SICK, Minneapolis, MN, 2012), p. 2.

2. Mettler-Toledo, Principles of Checkweighing (Mettler-Toledo, Columbus, OH, 2012).


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