Editors' Picks of Pharmaceutical Science & Technology Innovations
Automation, already a fact of life in the pharmaceutical industry, has become even more important now that many manufacturers must reduce costs to remain competitive. Automated equipment can reduce expenses by increasing productivity and efficiency. This month's products illustrate some of the applications that this equipment can perform. A packaging machine from Uhlmann places solid dosage forms into bottles of various shapes. A vision-inspection system from Cognex can check print and detect defects. Cole-Parmer's bioreactor automatically controls cells' growth environment.
Bioreactor controls growth variablesCole-Parmer's IKA BR 10 bioreactor is designed to ensure the optimal cell growth of phototrophic organisms, including algae and many species of bacteria. Through a human–machine interface, operators can set timers to control the lighting, motion, pH, and temperature within the bioreactor. An in-line DC motor connected to a PTFE stirrer controls the motion within the unit. The motor can operate at low speeds for gentle agitation that provides good oxygen transfer without damaging fragile cells. Users can easily remove the motor by adjusting one thumbscrew.
The system monitors and controls pH through an automatic carbon-dioxide valve. A separate probe monitors the temperature of the vessel. Users can connect the outer jacket to a recirculation bath for optimal temperature control. A glass sparger tube provides constant oxygen transfer and mixes carbon dioxide. The 10-L bioreactor can be used as a modeling tool for scale-up applications and can be customized for specific applications.
Inspection tool detects defects
Cognex's In-Sight Explorer 4.5 inspection tool includes an all-in-one edge- and surface-inspection tool, and an all-in-one bead-width and position tool. The software's identification-code tool reads multiple codes at one time, thus allowing In-Sight cameras to read barcodes and provide inspections simultaneously.
The product's Flexible Flaw Detection (FFD) edge- and surface-inspection tool is suitable for color and grayscale applications. The FFD tool inspects for boundary defects, such as conformity of shape, and surface defects, such as stains and scratches. FFD can also perform print inspections (e.g., inspecting screened logos for defects). FFD gives users the flexibility to select accuracy and speed requirements, and to ignore defects during system run time.
The In-Sight Explorer 4.5 product also includes two EasyBuilder user-interface tools. The Bead Finder and Bead Tracker tools find positional defects and width-based defects and gaps, and also provide bead data needed for process control.