Cleanroom tray handling system
05 July 2022
GERRESHEIMER MEDICAL Systems Division produces over one billion high quality, medical grade, glass cartridges every year; central to its new post-production inspection and packaging system is the IEF Werner varioSTACK CF (Clean Factory) tray palletiser.
Chosen for its ability to handle the cartridges quickly, gently and with high precision, the varioSTACK CF is supplied in the UK by RARUK Automation.
As primary packaging, the cartridges are most often used for insulin delivery when combined with a pen system for patients to self-administer doses. In a cleanroom environment, the varioSTACK CF is required to sort the cartridges into different containers to cost-effectively replace operators who previously had to pick cartridges from a tube and place them into polypropylene (PP) boxes. The investment now means operators are free to perform other, more valuable and rewarding tasks.
The sorting process required the varioSTACK CF to be integrated with Gerresheimer's own camera inspection system and a pallet buffer with full and empty trays to facilitate highly accurate automated control. Working with Gerresheimer's own Technical Competence Centre, IEF Werner delivered a flexible concept that includes the use of auxiliary boxes to clamp the PP boxes as well as the matrix trays.
The production line consists of the automatic pick-up of cartridges from the oven conveyor, where they relax at about 600°C after forming, a measuring section and finally to the varioSTACK CF; where the last two operations are performed in an ISO Class 8 clean room. Once in the clean room a product gripper picks up 30 cartridges simultaneously and places 15 onto each of two measuring sections.
These work synchronously in a reciprocating manner so that no glass cartridge touches another. In order to reach the high pass standard, a G3 camera system, including lifter, are integrated in every measuring section.
The system examines the cartridges for cosmetic errors. If the camera determines an error, the gripper removes the defective part and places it on a slide, which leads to a waste chute. Additionally, it is possible to interrupt the process and remove cartridges as test samples in order to monitor the measuring system.
The cartridges, which are free from defects, are then transported to the final packaging area. An employee puts the empty container stacks on a conveyor belt. This feeds the varioSTACK CF automatically. A gripper picks up the parts out of the compressor track and places them automatically in the corresponding container. On the opposing side a further gripper picks the full containers up and places them on the pallet buffer.
The IEF-Werner tray handling system is able to use two types of packaging: matrix trays with a capacity of 22 x 15 cartridges and auxiliary containers made of plastic, within which pp-boxes may be placed. Each box is able to store 380 cartridges. At the end of the line a staff member removes the container, folds the front flap, and places the lid on.
As illustrated in this application, IEF-Werner tray palletisers are aligned with flexible factory automation and demand-oriented material flow and the autonomous, modular systems are suitable for a diverse range of applications, including the automotive component sector as well as the pharmaceutical and health and beauty industry.