PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, takes stock of the entry of automated packaging systems into the pharmaceutical industry. According to the PMMI report, at least 50% of the pharmaceutical industries have invested in automation and in the coming years the maintenance of the lines implemented or updated with the entry of new technologies will be an integral part of the company’s management policy.

The study in question highlights important changes in the market related to the awareness that automation not only increases productivity, with a sharp decrease in downtime, but also significantly increases safety standards. The introduction of automated packaging systems significantly reduces the incidence of human error and contributes to a considerable increase in the quality level of production.

The research also highlights the ongoing change in the relationship between man and machine and the flexibility guaranteed by the new systems in identifying the new production forms most suited to the current needs of consumers.

The powerful entry into the production process of the single-dose format is one of the most important innovations on the US market. The advantages of this format can be seen from hospitals where the incidence of errors in administration has been drastically reduced so as to induce the mandatory use of single-dose also in medical practices to contain waste; particularly appreciated also by the patient / end user who praises the convenience in the hiring and transport. The new automated packaging systems have consequently implemented the functions indispensable for the efficient management of this new request. The level of complexity is certainly increasing, for example in the case of monodoses packed with the syringe, which must also be guaranteed with the packaging, safety and the impossibility of reuse.

Collaborative robots
The market for collaborative robots, better known as cobots, is also growing significantly. With an estimated +18% in 2017 and a further +15% expected between 2018 and 2020, collaborative robots are currently the intermediate link between the operator and the machine. The tasks entrusted to them are often those with the greatest incidence of human error. As can be expected, the entry into the automated packaging systems industry has also changed the demand for personnel. There is a growing demand for specialised technicians, which is lower than availability. The problem of training, which in this case is not in line with the needs of the market, is therefore being re-proposed. And if in many cases companies adopt the path of staff retraining, on the front of companies producing automated systems, it is increasingly important to make an effort at the design stage in creating man-machine interfaces that are easy to understand and manage.

A theme that is still open and evolving and on which it is good to keep up to date.