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A six axis FANUC LR Mate 200iB handling syringes

to cover a wide work envelope, offering a good solution for end of line packaging applications. FANUC has developed its controller software tools to simplify and standardise the programming, setup and operation of the robot. Depending on the end-user application, the controller can be supplied with one of several application tools for simple consistent robot programming, set- up and operation. In addition, over 250 software options are available to add additional functionality.

iRVision from FANUC -

adding ‘sight’ to a robot is vital in many pharmaceutical applications to enable inspection, position and orientation capabilities.

ensure accuracy, continuity and reliability. Today’s robot offerings are able to meet demanding pharmaceutical requirements. For example, grippers are available that can gently handle the wide range of product formats, such as bags, bottles and tubes. Clean room robots are also available to help automate laboratory processes. Robot models, such as the as FANUC M-430iA, have been developed with clean surfaces - for regular disinfection, for example. In the laboratory environment robots can now safely replace human operators undertaking sterile manufacturing processes, where there may be a contamination risk. In one laboratory application a FANUC M16iB was chosen for its reliability and speed to create a single point handling solution for

12 September 2014 Solids and Bulk Handling

vial processing. A handling tool was designed and attached to the end of the robot to enable it to handle ten vials at a time. A variety of components were also placed around the robot cell – including indexing tables for full rack staging, a thermostatically controlled water bath for precise sample temperature, a retrieval system for dumped vials, a washing-brushing- rinsing-drying station, a preservative spray station, and a recapping station. In applications that require additional components within the cell, FANUC controllers can offer benefits. A single, compact, FANUC R-30iB controller, the company’s latest robot controller, is able to control up to four robot arms and numerous additional axes, from a single CPU, with only the addition of control boxes to house the servo amplifiers and power components. This could allow for the use of more flexible and adaptable servo grippers in place of pneumatic grippers, which can help to future-proof gripping requirements. The ability to control additional axes also allows the robot to be placed on a linear rail, for example, if it needs

Making a cell safe can represent a considerable percentage of the total set up cost. FANUC has addressed this issue with a variety of safety solutions to ensure that all safety requirements are met in a cost-effect way with minimal hardware requirements. Its Dual Check Safety (DCS) software options include position and speed check functionality, which allows for the creation of safety zones that the robot is not allowed to enter or leave. It can also be applied to speed, ensuring that the robot does not exceed a set speed in certain areas of the cell, thus ensuring both product and human safety. A particularly useful software option is the safety DCS PMC (programmable machine control) which, in effect, offers an in-built safety PLC option. Instead of specifying a separate PLC to control the system this software option makes it possible for the controller to manage all the components surrounding the robot, including the safety requirements helping to simplify control and negate the need for additional control hardware, such as PLCs.


Justification for the use of robots in the pharmaceutical industry is wide-ranging – from better worker safety to improved overall product quality. Speeding up the drug discovery process could be yet another benefit, helping industry to meet the ever- increasing call for new drugs to treat the world’s growing ageing population. Robots have already shown that they can improve productivity and efficiency in many industries and the pharmaceutical industry is now starting to make use of these abilities too. n

*IFR – International Federation of Robotics - World Robotics Industrial Robots 2011 Report

For more information contact FANUC on tel: +44 (0)2476 518415 or visit:

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