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News archive for May, 2013

May 2013 covers Automation GT’s micro-automation expertise

Our expertise in micro-automation is gaining attention in the medical industry. Read our latest case story on Product Design and Development.

Pharmaceutical companies often assemble medical syringes by hand. Manual assembly is time-consuming, potentially dangerous and lacks the repeatability and reliability of an automated solution.

Automation GT was asked by a leading pharmaceutical company to design and build a system to prepare needles for drug filling. This task was previously carried out by hand, completing only a few per batch.

But how do you automate a process that handles needles with a tip smaller than a pinpoint?

Specialists in the design of micro-automation, Automation GT provided a dramatic increase in productivity, with a state-of-the-art robot fed machine. To reduce the safety risk associated with manual handling of needles, the machine plugs the end of the needle to prepare it for backfilling with medicine.

The customer required an advanced pharmaceutical-grade system that would deliver an accurate throughput of twenty units per minute.  Built using stainless steel for use in a class 10,000 (ISO 7) clean room, the machine is rapidly driven by a precision pick-and-place pharmaceutical grade robot.

The machine handles needles with tips smaller than a pinpoint.  Each needle is covered by a sheath to protect the user from the sharp tip when manually handled during transport. The robot swiftly selects a needle from the pallet, removes the sheath and slides over to the orientator, which locates the bevel side of the needle by rotating it vertically.

With rapid, purposeful motion, the robot takes the needle to the dispensing station and a special biodegradable glue that is smaller than the ID of the recipient needle is applied.

Read full story.

The Real Impact Of Robotics

For many years there has been a stigma surrounding the use of industrial robots within manufacturing. A widely held perception is that robots are aimed solely at labor-reduction, contributing to US unemployment.

This is not the case.

To put it simply, robots are tools to support an existing workforce. Broadly speaking, industrial robots are an opportunity for companies to improve quality, productivity and comply with health & safety. They help humans to carry out tasks at a standard that they couldn’t achieve by hand. A recent example, Okabashi Brands, a US shoemaker, demonstrates how they have remained competitive by investing in an automated system alongside its growing domestic workforce.

In addition to the practical benefits of robots, a study by the International Robotics Federation (IFR) predicts that robots will create more than two million jobs over the next decade.

This is a ratio of three to five roles created for every robot in service. And as the use of industrial robots accelerates, productivity will increase, facilitating greater economic return and re-investment potential.

But what kind of short-term benefit should we expect from industrial robots?

Robots provide consistency and repeatability, two fundamental requirements of advanced industries such as pharmaceutical, medical device and biotech.

In addition, bio-pharma products are becoming too small for an employee to handle precisely, especially in hyper-clean conditions.

Productivity is a major advantage. Robots do not tire, physically or mentally. This means that they can work on a task through the night while workers rest, thus increasing industrial throughput. Robots won’t get up and walk out on you because they’ve had enough of the complicated process that they have been programmed to repeat in large volumes. This reduces labor turnover, a cost that can be avoided with the correct equipment.

Health & Safety is a serious issue. Robots significantly reduces the health risk for employees that carry out dangerous processes.

This is particularly acute with the life science environment, with workers potentially at risk from fumes, toxins and sharp objects. Repetitive tasks can lead to injuries.

Robots can take the strain…

To summarise, industrial robots transform the way we do work as humans. They provide a competitive advantage to those who are the first to invest in the most advanced robot to support its workforce. In competitive 21st century industries companies that innovate enjoy market growth and those who fear change fall behind. The only way to move forward is to embrace new technology.

To learn more about how automation can improve your productivity, please contact us.