With an increasing number of drug delivery devices, primarily autoinjectors and pen injectors, under development and soon entering mass production, SHL Automation has been steadily working towards enhancing SHL’s in-house automated sub-assembly solutions. One related development programme involves the re-engineering and streamlining of component assembly for a key autoinjector project.
The goals for the programme were to improve cycle time, provide 100% visual inspection, and to ultimately overcome the bottleneck to any automated system – ‘down time’. Utilising some of the latest technology and software available, SHL Automation began working with related project management teams to develop a unique hybrid automation system that addresses these goals. The system is built around a customised linear assembly line with semi- and fully-automatic modules. These modules can be adjusted or modified all the way up to a 100% fully automatic line with bowl feeders, automatic tray loading stackers and pick and place robots depending on the volume needs of the assembled autoinjector.
Also incorporated within the project set-up are cosmetic vision controls that ensure customer specifications are adequately met. Process qualification (PQ) can also be conducted for the separate modules in order to cut down on assembly validation time.
SHL general manager Frank Isaksson commented on recent progress, stating: “When producing millions of autoinjectors per year for customers, ensuring that we have a robust assemble process is paramount. The linear assembly line system is a step in the right direction and is a testament to the innovative approach of SHL Automation. Continuous improvement is a key factor in all aspects of our operations here at SHL.”
Creating a robust system and enhancing efficiencies has been achieved with the development of this next-generation sub-assembly equipment. This, along with other innovations, will continue to be introduced by SHL utilising the in-house resources that we have invested in over the past decade. SHL Automation currently has over 100 experienced staff and engineers working with our customers and partners to meet the challenge of the growing number of devices, more complex components, significantly higher component volumes and variable forecasts.