ABB Robotics - A leading supplier of industrial robots, modular manufacturing systems and services

ABB Robotics is a leading supplier of industrial robots, modular manufacturing systems and services. Helping manufacturers improve their productivity, product quality and worker safety is key, while ABB's robotic business in the UK also aims to ensure that all manufacturers, regardless of size, are given the chance to explore the capabilities of using robotic automation in their own processes, and realise the benefits that follow.

With 250,000 installations worldwide, ABB Robotics has provided solutions to all industries, including pharmaceutical. With improvements to hygiene, quality and consistency, the products offer great results to medical manufacturers that are keen to optimise their processes.

Replacing human hands - robots and hygiene

ABB Robotics understands the high standards held by the pharmaceutical industry in regards to hygiene. Instead of adapting existing models from other applications, they have designed robots that can be washed down, such as the stainless steel versions that can be used for clean-in-place processes. In addition, when robots are able to replace human hands in performing certain processes, the probability of product contamination is significantly reduced. A leading Danish enzyme manufacturer recognises this benefit, and has installed robots to fill its product and keep employees separate from the process. This also means that cleaning is automated, optimising the hygiene levels of the manufacturer's product even further.

Right first time, every time - quality and consistency

One factor that distinguishes the pharmaceutical industry from most industrial applications is the need for faster cycle times with no impact on precision. ABB's robots achieve 'right first time' production, as robotic control technology and handling accessories have significantly developed the speed and accuracy at which the models perform. This means little or no sub-standard products and furthermore, less wastage. Even the packaging process is improved as vision capabilities mean the robots are able to fill and weigh products much more effectively.

A major Swiss pharmaceutical manufacturer installed ABB robots, using the first to palletise their packaged product. Using two scanners to read barcodes on boxes arriving on a conveyor belt, the robot was so fast and reliable at sorting them into their various shipping destinations, it has now been moved to a larger area where it loads up to six pallets at once. Moreover, the manufacturer has now incorporated numerous robots in many other processes throughout the production line.

Research & development - high throughput screening

Research and development is an important aspect of the pharmaceutical industry, with new drugs needing testing and evaluation all the time. Advancements in robotic technology mean this process has been revolutionised, with new products being developed in a fraction of the time it took before. The testing process has also become quick and efficient. High Throughput Screening combined with data processing software, liquid handling devices and sensitive detectors mean that researchers can conduct millions of tests, and each day up to 10,000 samples can be assessed. In comparison with the manual screening total of 30 samples a day, this is a great achievement and means real progress for medical research and development.

Common misconceptions - anxieties resolved

Many manufacturers are still wary of robotics, viewing it as a new technology that is too complex to implement. Anxieties over cost, ease of use and acceptance by staff discourage companies from adopting robotic technology, especially SMEs who typically believe that only large manufacturers can afford it.

The reality is that a robot is a great investment. The ROI will come in the form of energy savings, flexibility, high-speed production and quality processes, among others. ABB also provides training, making the transition from manual to automation as smooth as possible. Despite the common misconception that robots replace human jobs, more often than not they actually create them, in the form of robot operators or a need for staff in other elements of the process. It is also important to consider that robots are likely to take over roles that are repetitive and mundane, or even unsafe, improving the quality of the working life of many employees.

In fact, many manufacturers have claimed that they wouldn't have a business if it wasn't for the significant improvements that installing robots has provided.

Contact Us

If you would like more information, email robotics@gb.abb.com or call 01908 350300 with the reference 'pharmaceuticals'. You can also use the form below to send us your enquiry.

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