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Sensors, Vision

Pharmaceutical industry processes benefiting from machine vision

Machine vision applications for pharmaceutical manufacturers include everything from formulation to packaging to shipping and are designed to protect consumers.

By AIA April 6, 2020
Courtesy: CFE Media

The distribution of pharmaceuticals is quite literally a matter of life and death. Machine vision applications for pharmaceutical manufacturers include everything from formulation to packaging to shipping. Many of these applications are in place to help protect consumers.

You no doubt appreciate the seriousness of the control of pharmaceuticals when you have to go through the prescription process. You visit your doctor and receive a written prescription. Then you deliver the prescription to a pharmacy to pick up your drug. But first, the pharmacist must contact the doctor and often an insurance company for verification.

Three machine vision applications for pharmaceutical companies

Why all the fuss for pharmaceuticals? First of all, Big Pharma is competitive. Massive R&D costs require tight control throughout the business. And the pharmaceutical industry is also highly regulated. Much of the reason for that has to do with consumer protection. These are all areas where machine vision can help.

1. Products and packaging. The first step in pharmaceutical production is also the first application for machine vision. Machines are used to inspect the quality and condition of the product before it is put into its package. This includes tasks like counting the number of pills in a bottle, checking each pill for shape, size, and damage, and validating labels.

2. Product tracking. Once a product is packaged and shipped, you may think that the producer’s work is over. But it’s not. Drugs must be traceable from the manufacturer to distribution centers and from stores to consumers. If any risk crops up, such as side effects or tainted drugs, the manufacturer must contact the consumer quickly. Machine vision helps to verify addresses and barcodes.

3. Data entry. Big Pharma collects Big Data. Many companies use a lot of physical forms that are valuable to help with future products. This brings us to the last of our machine vision applications for pharmaceutical businesses. Machine vision can help pharmaceutical companies to digital documents like clinical trial documents, patient reports that include clinical data and medical records, or lab notebooks.

Machine vision is just one technology that makes up Industry 4.0. This next industrial revolution will impact the pharmaceutical industry. Machine vision can help improve speed, accuracy, and compliance, critical factors for the future success of Big Pharma.

This article originally appeared in Vision Online. AIA is a part of the Association for Advancing Automation (A3), a CFE Media content partner.


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