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Automation/Image Processing

How to save Costs through Automatic Granulate Inspection

| Author / Editor: Dipl.-Ing. Maik Ritter, Dipl.-Ing. Thomas Waldleben, Dipl.-Ing. Yavuz Baykara, Dr.-Ing. Gunter Feddern / Anke Geipel-Kern

(Picture: NNE Pharmaplan)

Innovative equipment design in combination with modern image processing technology allowed to reduce the manufacturing costs of a high quality medical device product. The new process solution replaces a costly visual inspection step carried out by several qualified QC staff.

Geistlich Pharma in Wolhusen/Switzerland is a global top range manufacturer of regenerative bio-materials today and has been world-market leader for many years in the field of regenerative dental medicine. Dentists and dental surgeons utilize the pioneer products Geistlich Bio-Oss and Geistlich Bio-Gide in order to improve the bone regeneration process.

Geistlich Bio-Oss is manufactured as granulate with a grain size ranging from 0.25 to 4 mm. In the interest of top level and consistent quality the granulate is subject to several quality control steps in the manufacturing process relative to out-of-spec particles and discoloration. In the past this control step had been carried out visually by employees specially trained and qualified for this purpose.

Picture 1: View of total system with operator; Pict. 2: Product path through installation, assembly of main components; Pict. 3: Grain isolation through vibration channel & camera 1; Pict. 4: Granulate deposit on segmented disk, cameras 2&3; Pict. 5: Suction head for aspiration/elimination of “bad” material.
Picture 1: View of total system with operator; Pict. 2: Product path through installation, assembly of main components; Pict. 3: Grain isolation through vibration channel & camera 1; Pict. 4: Granulate deposit on segmented disk, cameras 2&3; Pict. 5: Suction head for aspiration/elimination of “bad” material. (Pictures: Geistlich Pharma)

This activity was time consuming and particularly demanding in terms of experience and concentration required. Consequently it was also a major cost driver in the manufacturing process.

Speed Up Slow Granule Inspection Through Plant Automation

For several years a solution had been sought to replace this demanding, slow and costly process step through a more cost effective automatic inspection system. First investigations of modern image processing technology confirmed that suitable equipment and software for this specific application were basically available, confirming the viability of a project envisaged for this purpose.

Also a concept for the design of a total installation in response to all necessary pro-cess requirements could be generated in due time, in full consistency with all relevant quality standards applicable to medical device products in Europe and in other parts of the world. At this point in time, the engineering and consulting company NNE Pharmaplan was entrusted with the design and realization of this project as general contractor.

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