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Pharmaceuticals


A bright future for robotics


FANUC’s new R-30iB controller capable of controlling up to four robot arms from a single CPU


Chris Sumner, managing director of FANUC


discusses the use of robotic applications within the pharmaceutical industry and explains why the sector has been slow to adopt the technology. Recent industry figures suggest that the tide is finally turning and that the industry is now starting to realise the potential of robots in a wide range of applications.


10 September 2014 Solids and Bulk Handling T


he future certainly looks bright for robots in the pharmaceutical sector. They have already found their way into the packaging


process and, as the sector becomes more comfortable with robot technology and begins to integrate it into legacy systems, new applications are now starting to be found throughout the pharmaceutical manufacturing process. Mirroring many other industry sector requirements today, the pharmaceutical industry needs to be able to ensure that its packaging solutions are reliable and effective and that the valuable product is protected throughout the packaging process. The particularly innovative nature of pharmaceutical products needs to be


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matched by equally ingenious packaging variations and this can make the packaging process increasingly more complex and difficult to achieve to the required standard and speed using manual labour. Having the flexibility to quickly adapt a packaging line to accommodate these developments could prove to be a key differentiator for success in the sector. For this reason end-users are becoming more receptive to the use of robotic solutions. In the UK, for example, the use of robots in the pharmaceutical, healthcare and medical sectors is increasing. According to figures from the British Automation & Robotics Association (BARA) no robots were sold into these sectors in 2000. In 2012, however, there were a total of 43 recorded sales. This


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