Automation: The Key to Quality Pharmaceutical Manufacturing

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Because of the increasing demand for more effective drugs, manufacturers in the pharmaceutical industry have to keep up with increasing standards on drug quality while still being able to produce enough batches of products to distribute and remain profitable. These changes in the industry call for equally innovative changes in production processes, specifically the technology used for making drugs. As such, pharmaceutical manufacturers now greatly rely on automation to achieve their production goals.

Precision for Ensuring Better Quality

Precision plays a huge role in modern medicine. The slightest mistake in the formulation of a drug can lead to errors that can endanger the health and wellbeing of consumers. Because spending too much resources on performing extra checks on the end products isn’t practical, manufacturers rely on precise dispensing tools to get the formulation correct the first time around.

Depending on the nature of the drug, precision dispensing tools can be designed to handle either liquid or solid ingredients. The ingredients are dispensed through scoops, nozzles, pumps, or funnels that are typically powered by high-performance motion systems that use brushed or brushless motor technology. These dispensers are regulated using multiple types of devices such as sensors and precise weighing systems. Once there is enough of an ingredient, the contents are automatically transported to the next stages of production using motorized stages or conveyor belts.

Aside from getting the formulation right, automation dispensing also plays a key role in packaging the final products. Every capsule or tablet must weigh as required, and every bottle should have the amount of liquid or powder as intended—and all these must be properly reflected on the label. With automated packaging, errors in labeling can be avoided altogether.

Efficiency and Scalability

One of the biggest advantages of automation tools over other production methods is that the technology can be easily scaled up or down, depending on product demand. Instead of spending on training extra personnel to ensure product quality and to increase production, a manufacturer can just acquire more hardware and use existing programs to replicate the same results at a fraction of the time. Production downtimes are reduced to a minimum while product quality remains consistent.

Automation tools also make it easier for manufacturers to diversify their products. Part of the hardware used to create one type of medicine can easily be modified to make a different product. Variations can also be implemented through changes in the operating software while repurposing the hardware to increase or decrease output will only require replacing a few components instead of changing the entire production line.

Automation tools are very cost-efficient because they require very little (if any) human intervention. This means production is less affected by problems such as sick personnel, sudden resignations, and production issues attributed to human labor. An automated production line can keep functioning round the clock, allowing manufacturers to keep up with ever-growing production demands.

Safer Production

Because of the nature of the ingredients used in the pharmaceutical industry, it’s important to keep the people working on them to stay in a safe, clean environment. Automated tools can work in an enclosed area without being affected by fumes or spills. Even if human input is necessary, the improved ease of operation makes it less likely for production personnel to encounter spills, contamination, and other kinds of damage that may happen when handling the chemicals.

The call for more effective medicine is always there and it is up to the manufactures to be able to provide these new drugs to the people in need. There will always be a need for innovative solutions in the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry, and part of it includes automation tools that are more efficient than what we have today.

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