Does manual inspection still make sense?

Manual visual inspection is reliable in only 80% of cases. Such results have been reported by the FMEA (Failure Mode Effect Analysis) inspection process guidelines, taking into account multiple factors, such as time for observation, different viewing angles, different operator subjectivity, visual fatigue and defects not detected by the human eye, etc..

Fully automated inspection solutions use computer vision systems with digital cameras that replace human vision and computer algorithms that replace the human brain. Compared to manual, automated inspection provides faster, more objective, and more reliable performance, even at long operating runs. In addition, constant technological development allows the application of new or improved tools, further extending the already large advantage over manual inspection.

However, the initial investment for automatic inspection is generally considerably higher than for setting up a manual inspection process. On the other hand, the operating costs are always higher for manual inspection. Which type of inspection you choose depends on the quality requirements and the return on investment (ROI) calculation. Nevertheless, with the increasing capacity and quality requirements, pharmaceutical companies are looking to find the best automated visual inspection technologies in order to replace manual inspection in most efficient way.

Let us take a look at some cutting-edge technological innovations.

Simultaneous multimodal imaging

Today, automated inspection systems can use multiple technologies simultaneously to detect different types of defects in an efficient way. In the following example, we see the same pharmaceutical tablet imaged by an automatic visual inspection system SPINE. Top light (diffuse illumination) is used to detect contrast defects, such as colour and dirt defects, while 3D surface imaging is used to detect structural defects, such as sticking and chips.

Artificial intelligence

State of the art automated inspection systems such as SPINE use artificial intelligence to tackle with the products that only humans were previously thought to be able to inspect and detect or recognize defects. However, the power of artificial intelligence has been also proven in pharmaceutical inspection, where systems can now inspect even translucent objects such as transparent capsules and softgels.

Sensum | SPINE – Automatic Visual Inspection Machine

SPINE Inspection

  • All-in-one visual inspection machine for tablets, capsules and softgels
  • High speed inspection of up to 630.000 products/hour
  • Extensive range of product sizes from 4 mm up to 28 mm
  • 3D surface inspection and high colour sensitivity
  • Reliable active sorting with verification
  • No defects needed for machine training
  • Intuitive user-friendly graphical interface
  • Ergonomic design and simple changeover
  • Local and global support

Learn more about SPINE

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