Firmly and safely sealed

The integrity of the packaging is of fundamental importance especially for pharmaceutical products.  Only correctly sealed medicine bottles, pots and vials safeguard the purity of the contents and consequently the health of the patient.  Closure faults can be precisely detected and the products in question removed in good time using HEUFT equipment.  Stephan Bachmeier, Pharmaceutical Product Manager, explains the possibilities.

Mr Bachmeier, what does HEUFT have to offer for inspecting the closures of pharmaceutical containers?

"We provide a complete and continuous all around inspection of various closures especially for pharmaceutical products intended for oral administration such as cough syrup.  In this case the emphasis is on the inspection of the individual closure parts which ensure the genuineness and integrity of the container."

Which device is used for this and what are its advantages?

"The HEUFT SPECTRUM VX is used as the platform for these inspection tasks.  The fully automatic inspection system stands out from conventional checking devices above all due to its linear principle:  no container carousel, no change parts for different sizes of packaging, no "stress" for the bottles whilst being transported through the system or during the inspection."

How does the in-line inspection of medicine bottles with screw closures function?

"The condition of each individual closure, in the case of plastic screw caps in accordance with DIN 28 / DIN 18 with a moulded pull off ring, is examined in detail by means of LED illumination and CCD camera technology using the transmitted light procedure.  For this not only the presence of the individual components but also their positions are checked.  A sophisticated prism arrangement guarantees that the whole circumference of each individual closure is inspected completely – and that without rotating or stopping the container.  Of course, missing or canted closures are also detected in this way."

But what about ROPP caps, namely roll on pilfer proof aluminium closures?

"These can also be precisely inspected – with an in-house developed, unique technology which provides four difference camera views of the contour of such roll on closures and is able to measure up to eight profile depths accurately in each case.  Missing thread turns or those which have not been formed enough can be identified with it just as well as those which are incorrectly positioned.  Even nicks in the thread area as well as faulty pull off rings are reliably detected."

Does HEUFT also have technologies for inspecting the closures of pharmaceutical containers filled with parenteral drugs?

"We also have a suitable module available for this particularly demanding segment where stringent requirements prevail regarding clean room hygiene.  Whether integrated in the HEUFT spotter PH or as a stand-alone solution:  it generates several, optimally illuminated side views of the head area of the containers for the crimp cap inspection and stopper position detection of vials analogue to the ampoule tip inspection.  The HEUFT reflexx high-performance image processing system then puts them together into a 360 degree complete view.  In addition another camera checks the presence, position, integrity and brand affiliation of such crimp caps from above."

What happens to the pharmaceutical containers which are identified as incorrectly sealed?

"They are automatically removed from the production flow.  This rejection is checked again in order to ensure maximum safety."

Can the closure inspection be combined with other detection technologies?

"Yes, that is one of the many advantages of the consistent modular design of our linear machines:  consequently the HEUFT VX also carries out a precise fill level detection with high-frequency, camera or X-ray technology in addition to a closure detection.  The HEUFT spotter PH for the complete inspection of newly filled ampoules and vials also checks the filling quantity contained.  Furthermore the system, specially developed for the pharmaceutical industry, detects foreign matter in the product as well as contamination and damage to the container itself."

What are the other advantages?

"Maximum safety, reproducibility and user-friendliness ensure a controlled and monitored motorised product changeover:  the positions of all the cameras and lighting components adapt themselves independently when the container format is changed.  Of course, in addition the HEUFT VX and the HEUFT spotter PH fulfil all the cGMP requirements.  Furthermore they provide complete counter statistics in accordance with 21 CFR Part 11 and on top of everything make it possible to generate batch reports as well as full audit trail documents".

Mr Bachmeier, thank you for this informative conversation.