Quality control and automated packaging

Quality control and automated packaging


The solution was implemented in the plant of pharmaceutical products. The client’s core business is the production and packaging of medical products with high quality and the highest product safety standards.


  • Automate two manual production processes (assign other tasks to operators)
  • Increase the effectiveness of the product quality control (improve the quality of products offered to key clients)


  • Release 2 FTEs per shift in the packaging (6 FTEs in total)
  • Release 2 FTEs per shift in the quality control (6 FTEs in total)
  • Improve the quality of the product offered on the market by eliminating defects that could not be detected before, with the participation of operators (identify 18 defined possible product defects)
  • Eliminate a major defect in the product which occurs during the production process at the component supplier

Thanks to the automation of the quality control and packaging, we have significantly reduced the costs of needle production. And more importantly, reduced number of complaints increased satisfaction of the main recipient of our products.

Pharmaceutical client

Implementation details:

Originally, the client intended to reduce the costs of blister packs for safe medical needles. Prior to the project, the process was carried out manually by the operators with the use of blister packs in a transport system with the efficiency of 7 needles per 5 seconds. The analysis of the process and defined requirements resulted in the concept of process automation with the use of SCARA industrial robot with a dedicated vibratory feeder and a hopper. In this prototype solution, the needle could be oriented unambiguously during transport on the vibratory feeder. In order to achieve the assumed efficiency of the process, the robot was intended to operate two needle feeding lines.

After the solution was presented to the client, at the stage of analysis, the idea was born to extend the functionality of the packaging line with a needle quality control module. In this way, two previously independent manual processes were combined in the machine.

In the first stage of the project, the effectiveness of the control system was verified. In the ControlTec workshop, a laboratory stand was arranged. The client prepared a series of needles with various types of defined production defects. Controltec and Omron engineers jointly prepared the system and test software, and carried out qualitative and quantitative tests of the defect detection process. After the tests were successfully completed, the design and implementation of the production line was contracted.

The implementation of quality control processes in the automated process entailed the need to transform the proposed robotic station into a production line. The efficiency requirements for the packaging combined with the quality requirements and the time needed to perform all the necessary quality inspections made it necessary to expand the control and packaging line system.

In total, the solution involves 7 independent lines, each of which consisting of the following modules:

  • Vibratory feeder with hopper
  • Vibratory guide system for transport and orientation of needles
  • System for capturing needles and feeding them into the quality control system
  • Needle hub opening and closing system
  • High quality camera system with illuminators for video analysis of needles and needle hubs
  • Automated needle blister pack system

The implementation covered 7 lines in 4 modules fixed and positioned unambiguously to the machine used to produce and transport blister packs. The process control system verifies the progress of the production order execution and collects production data to send them as reports to the client’s server.

Main features:

  • NJ501-1420 series PLC supporting 4 EtherCAT I/O islands (NX- ECC203 series couplers) with over 600 I/O signals in total
  • 21 latest R88D series servomotors with R88M series motors (EtherCAT control) and dedicated cabling
  • 4 extensive dual and quad camera vision systems based on the FH-3050 controllers, including 14 FH-SM02 series 2Mpx monochrome cameras, 14 FLV-TCC4 illuminator controllers and 21 front- and backlight illuminators
  • NX-SL3300 series safety controller with I/O modules integrated into the PLC (safety functions for servomotors supported after EtherCAT communication)
  • 16 monitored safety sensors for movable guards (F3S-TGR-NLPM series)
  • 12-inch colour touch control panel: NA5-12W101S
  • 107 optical sensors (reflective/transmitter-receiver/with mirror), series: E3Z, E3ZM and E3T