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Case Studies > ITS Implements a ProVisor & Vision Solution on Sanofi’s Inhaler Packaging Line

ITS Implements a ProVisor & Vision Solution on Sanofi’s Inhaler Packaging Line

To achieve high efficiency and product quality on a new inhaler packaging line, Sanofi called in ITS when it required an automated inspection and supervisory solution.

The new facility was installed at the Holmes Chapel site, to package metered dose inhalers, manufactured by Sanofi for the treatment of asthma.

ITS was awarded the project to implement seven vision systems and six Cognex code readers to carry out a number of inspections, including pharmacodes and overprinted text, at different stages of the production process. As well as automated inspection, Sanofi also required a central station for batch data entry and a simple user interface, to minimise the risk of manual data entry errors, increase operational efficiency and maximise uptime.

ITS recommended and installed its ProVisor central supervisory system. Based on standard SCADA technology, the system enables operators to enter the batch data into one central station and it automatically downloads the data to the cameras, scanners, printers and other devices. ProVisor ensures that the correct label formats are selected and the camera and scanners are configured to inspect the required features. Entering the data at one central station saves Sanofi’s operators considerable time and with the second signature functionality, manual data entry errors are eliminated.

Graham Ives, Projects Director of ITS explains, “We knew ProVisor was the ideal solution through our extensive knowledge of similar pharmaceutical industry installations, coupled with invaluable experience of working on previous projects for Sanofi.”

ITS implemented seven Cognex In-Sight Micro 1403 vision systems on the inhaler line to carry out the following inspections:-

  • Overprint and pharmacode on can label
  • Presence and position of label once applied to can
  • Presence and position of labels (top and bottom) once applied to the actuator breastplate
  • Presence and position of label applied to the rear of the actuator
  • Overprint and pharmacode printed on the foil at the flow wrapper station
  • Overprint and 2D code on the carton
  • The presence or match string value of the vignette label pharmacode

ITS recommended the Cognex In-Sight Micro Series not only because of their excellent performance, but also to capitalise on their size (30mm x 30mm x 60mm), which make them ideal for mounting in very tight spaces. In addition to their small size, the In-Sight Micro units also provided flexible mounting capability with a unique non-linear calibration tool that enabled ITS’ engineers to mount them at angles of up to 45-degrees for hard-to-reach applications.

Six Cognex DataMan 200 code readers were installed to verify the pre-printed pharmacodes on the following items:

  • Actuator breastplate upper label
  • Actuator breastplate lower label
  • Actuator breastplate rear label
  • Carton tuck flap
  • Patient leaflet
  • Casepacker label

The Cognex DataMan 200 fixed mount ID readers were selected for the application because of their compact size, Ethernet connectivity and performance. Ethernet connectivity offers the advantage of real-time data and image transfer, and easier integration with plant controllers and information networks.

Four VisionView™ operator interface panels were connected to the vision systems and ID readers, making it easier for Sanofi operators to monitor their production processes. The interface panels enable Sanofi’s operators to view the images from both the DataMan ID readers and In-Sight cameras, and display the pass and fail counts from the In-Sight vision systems.

VisionView automatically detects any Cognex vision system on the network and simultaneously displays information from up to nine vision systems in a tiled view, allowing VisionView to be easily added to any configuration or existing application - without requiring a PC.

For Sanofi the major gains from the project have been guaranteed product quality through 100% automated production inspection, and a significant reduction in the risk of manual data entry errors because of ProVisor’s second signature feature.

The ProVisor system allows the operator to view reject images, so they can quickly identify the reasons for failure and rectify the problems, thereby reducing waste and maximising uptime.

Manpower requirements and costs are minimal as the operators are able to setup and initialise batch data using the central data entry station and simple operator user interface, rather than setting up each individual device.

The ProVisor solution records user activity and offers full audit trail and 21 CFR Part 11 compliance capabilities. The networked nature of the solution also means that OEE data can be automatically collated and stored, for further analysis and efficiency improvements.

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