Artificial Intelligence Syntegon Validates First AI-Equipped Visual Inspection System in Production Line

Editor: Alexander Stark

The process and packaging technology provider, Syntegon Technology, recently installed the first fully validated visual inspection system utilizing Artificial Intelligence (AI) in an automated inspection machine.

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Syntegon has more than 40 years of experience in the development and manufacture of automated visual inspection machines for all liquid pharmaceuticals and container types.
Syntegon has more than 40 years of experience in the development and manufacture of automated visual inspection machines for all liquid pharmaceuticals and container types.
(Source: Syntegon)

Waiblingen/Germany — A recently launched AI installation constitutes a major step in Syntegon's sustained effort to introduce AI to pharmaceutical visual inspection, thereby exploring largely uncharted territory in the industry.

As one of the most challenging stages in the pharmaceutical manufacturing process, inspection requires ever more sophisticated visual systems to process increasingly complex products. Especially for high-cost pharmaceuticals, every single false reject is one too many. AI applications have the potential of further increasing detection rates and decreasing the number of false rejects in difficult products like highly viscous parenteral solutions with air bubbles, which are sometimes hard to differentiate from harmful particles. AI utilizes Deep Learning algorithms which are capable of accurately identifying recurring patterns and deviations.

Automated visual inspection machine

A growing number of Deep Learning vision applications are already on the market. The company adapted those applications for pharmaceutical purposes, which essentially also includes validation. Thanks to thorough in-house software and visual inspection expertise, Syntegon was able to develop a solution that only requires moderate modifications to the already existing vision systems.

After starting with the AI development in 2017 and performing a large number of tests, the company recently installed its first AI-equipped visual inspection system in a fully automated and validated machine in a customer’s production line. Amgen, one of the world’s leading biotechnology companies, uses the system to reliably distinguish air bubbles at the syringe’s rubber stopper from foreign particles, where conventional vision technology often mistakenly identifies safe products containing bubbles as defective.

In this customer project, Syntegon’s AI-based vision system was able to increase the particle detection rate by 70 %, while reducing the false detection rate by 60 % (average values in a particular inspection station). Backed by this success, Syntegon is set to implement AI in further inspection machines for different products and container types, thus contributing to the production of safe and reliable pharmaceutical products worldwide.

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