Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Smart camera application in the pharma world

Smart cameras have their place, but in the main I tend to favor PC-based vision systems. I have two reasons for this: first, PC-based systems have more ‘headroom,’ meaning that they can be expanded and upgraded as needs change. And second, as soon as you start using more than a single camera the economics shift towards the PC system (especially if you are using higher resolution cameras.)

However, as discussed in “Vision System Enables Fast Upgrade of Tablet Printing Systems,” (Quality Digest, July 15th, 2011) there are circumstances in which multi-smart camera systems make sense.

The article describes a situation in which a PC vision system had failed and needed to be replaced quickly. In most industries this would be a pain in the behind to do, although not impossible. In the pharmaceutical world though, things are different. There a new PC system would have to be FDA approved, which is a somewhat cumbersome process. So the machine builder decided to use 4 Cognex InSights and the PatMax tool.

Now I’m not familiar with FDA approvals, but I imagine the InSights also had to be approved. However, the argument in their favor here is that once approved, the solution can be deployed on many lines. Plus, there’s no need to worry about PC failures since, if the worst should happen, you just buy another InSight.

I wonder how DVT users feel about that?

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