Applications of robotics in the pharmaceutical industry

Automation is becoming an indispensable part of pharmaceutical companies to lighten the workload. For example, a recombinant protein expression company or a pharmaceutical packaging company can use automation to complete repetitive tasks faster.

Advantages of robotization:

The first question to be answered is “Why replace human labor with robots and automation?” To answer this question, let’s look at some benefits of robotics

  • Robots can increase productivity by completing tasks faster.
  • The robots perform a task in the same way which ensures the consistency of the product.
  • The robots can work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Robots are easy to program.
  • Robots can help with testing, making the work of the R&D department better and more efficient.
Source: Forbes

Applications of robots:

Robots can be used in the following pharmaceutical fields.

  1. Filling and packaging:

Robotic technology is used to fill the vials. It includes the transfer of components from station to station, before and after filling and packaging. Another ideal application for robotics is the automated assembly, inspection and packaging of syringes. Automatic inspection has the advantage of allowing the inspection of one hundred parts. Vision detection technology is used to verify product serial numbers to ensure track and trace regulations. Advanced vision sensors can differentiate colors, allowing machines to differentiate between different colors of bottle caps.

  1. Personalized drugs:

Automation company Invetech has partnered with a biopharmaceutical company to program automated systems for personalized immunotherapies. It is based on Argos Arcelis technology which uses two robotic arms to produce mRNA from a patient’s tumor which is then used to design personalized medicine. Dendritic cells are developed from white blood cells via automated manipulation. Dendritic cells express the required antigen which is used in therapy.

Clinical processes are skill-based and time-consuming, making them difficult to operate at commercial scale cost-effectively. The use of robotics and automation, however, facilitates the efficient development of therapies on a commercial scale.

Source: BostonReview
  1. Clean room robots:

The best application of robotics is in aseptic filling and other sterile processes as it eliminates the risk of human contamination. The robots ensure an ISO 5 environment to also prevent microbial contamination. The Fanuc robots can also withstand hydrogen peroxide sterilization and are leak proof. Robots used in cleanrooms must be programmed to minimize particle generation. The robot must be resistant to all sterilization and cleaning materials used in the laboratory. Controlling the speed of robots to ensure the optimal maintenance of the environment in the laboratory is also important.

  1. Laboratory robotics:

In laboratories, robotics are used to load instruments. For example, transferring microtiter plates between instruments. Although this can be done manually, the programmed software that does the work reduces human error, maintains the quality of the experiment, and allows scientists to focus on content rather than execution.

Robots are also used for handling vials in laboratories. For example, a Fanuc robot was designed to include a handling hand that could hold nearly ten vials at the same time. Other instruments such as an index table for handling batteries, a thermostatically controlled water bath, a vial retrieval system and a preservative spray station have also been included in the robot.