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FEATURE MEDICAL EQUIPMENT & DEVICES


ROBOTS SUPPORT GROWTH IN MEDICAL, PHARMACEUTICAL AND LIFESCIENCES SECTORS


one whole femoral head from a tray and transfers it to an image processor which assesses it for size and shape. This data is used to map out the cutting lines for the next stage in which the second robot presents the bone tissue to the fully encapsulated water jet cutting machine. Robot number three retrieves the resulting cuboid allografts and places them on a tray. The next two robots in line are responsible for handling the allografts as they undergo chemical treatment and sterilization. At station number six, the last of the Stericlean robots inserts the individual cubes in vials. In addition to increased efficiency in


Bone Transplant Product


Stäubli’s Simon Jenkins highlights just one of the areas where robots are now playing an increasingly important role in supporting new and important production processes


W


hilst the Medical, Pharmaceutical and Life Sciences sectors do not


have the same number of robots operating within manufacturing roles as the automotive industry, the applications they undertake are often highly sophisticated and performed under stringent regulatory and environmental conditions. Within these essential sectors, robots


are able to operate in environments which are unsuitable or even dangerous for humans, especially if there are bio- hazards, toxic or radioactive materials involved. In areas where cleanliness is essential, robots eliminated the potential risks from human contamination, and of course in every application, the speed, repeatability and reliability of robots are valuable attributes. Over the years, Stäubli has established


an enviable reputation within these sectors through a combination of its technical expertise, performance of its robots and familiarisation with the stringent regulatory requirements surrounding the industry. Today, Stäubli robots can be found operating at all levels, whether in handling primary packaging such as syringes and infusion bags or secondary packaging such as folding boxes and cartons. (The Stäubli robots in this facility


processes hip bone into cube-shaped bone replacement tissue for use in several orthopaedic procedures) Simon Jenkins explains: “Our many years of collaboration with machine


30 NOVEMBER 2020 | IRISH MANUFACTURING


manufacturers and OEMs within these sectors has enabled us to build up application expertise and regulatory knowledge across many different products and production processes. The life-sciences sector is a great example of how robots can make a valuable contribution, not just to the specific manufacturing to processes themselves, but by making it possible to deliver products which will ultimately enhance the well-being of individuals. An excellent example of this is the system used by Belgium start-up company Texere Biotech, to process bone material into implants.” This unique and fully automated


system uses femoral heads (i.e. the top end of the human thigh bone) and processes them into cuboid implants known as “bone allografts”. Six Stericlean robots supplied by Stäubli handle this bone replacement tissue under cleanroom conditions. Allografts are in high demand, because natural bone is the best material for bone transplants. Its micro-porosity ensures that it engrafts well whilst at the same time, the patient is spared the painful removal of autologous bone. The plant has the capacity to process 5,000 femoral heads a year. Because these are meticulously measured and optimally segmented, each produces an average of six blocks. Six identical TX60 Stericlean robots


are positioned at separate stations along the processing line. The first lifts


the processing of femoral heads, the other main advantages brought about by full automation are the traceability of each bone allograft block, the reliable removal of virus transmission and of the elimination of the cross-contamination risks between the bone tissues from the different donors. Simon Jenkins continues: “For this


demanding application, Stäubli’s Stericlean range proved to be the best solution, influenced by the unsurpassed hygiene standards of the robots and the numerous references from satisfied customers in the medical technology sector, including operating theatres. The robots are fully functional in VHP (vaporised hydrogen peroxide) environments and are compliant with the strict GMP (good manufacturing practice) guidelines. The robots not only stand out by virtue of their cleanroom compatibility but also in terms of dynamics, precision and reliability. Stäubli robots are actively involved with


multiple life-sciences applications such as cell screening, IV bag manufacturing / filling, pharmaceutical product inspection and the filling / assembly of syringes. In each case, robots of many different configurations are at the heart of these manufacturing processes.


The Stäubli robots in this facility processes hip bone into cube-shaped bone replacement tissue for use in several orthopaedic procedures


Stäubli www.staubli.com


/ IRISHMANUFACTURING


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