By the time a metered dose inhaler reaches the patient, one key assumption has to have held through all of the stages of the supply chain that brought it there: that all of its constituent parts will work in concert with one another according to the instrument's original specifications.
Decades of incremental improvement in manufacturing standards have ensured that this is the case for the majority of medical instruments sold today, but to eliminate doubt entirely, the testing regime has to be built into the production cycle itself.
This ethos is deeply embedded in the work of teamtechnik, an automated solutions provider for the solar, automotive and medical technology sectors based in Freiberg, Germany. Founded over 40 years ago by the engineer and entrepreneur Max Rosskopf, and now led by his son, CEO Stefan, the company is considered an international leader in highly flexible automation technology. The company currently employs over 900 people around the world in production sites across Europe, Asia and North America.
"Where our work in medical technology is concerned, we remain focused on production and testing solutions for injection systems, point-of-care diagnostics, contact lenses, inhalers and plastic assemblies," explains Frank Obegi, teamtechnik's vice-president sales med-tech. "Our TEAMED machine platforms guarantee reliable processes and optimal production values, and come as rectilinear and rotary systems. Our range of products also includes sophisticated automation solutions for high-volume medical technology production."
Meanwhile, on teamtechnik's compact platforms, exacting processes such as filling and dosing technology, robotic and vision systems, needle-handling and functional testing can be performed to the highest accuracy, along with soldering, gluing and joining processes.
"Finding just the right solution at each phase of the product life cycle is the secret behind the success of our team of engineers," says Obegi. "Our specialists identify the optimal platform for each automation level, from proof of principle to fully automated series production; teamtechnik then works with its customers from the earliest stages of a product's development, even as device design continues to evolve.
"With the TEAMED proof-of-principle platform, our company offers an ideal system, particularly for production for clinical trials."
Teamtechnik not only builds production systems but also supplies the necessary quality-control technology to guarantee 100% inline testing, and develops offline SPC test systems.
"A highly reliable solution for functional testing of injection devices is the new TEAMED Injector Test," Obegi says. "The system guarantees maximum reliability for testing of injection pens, auto-injectors and other drug-delivery mechanisms.
"The process operates at the highest degrees of precision and sensitivity, which is imperative when it comes to medical technology applications. In torque testing, for example, accuracy is maintained to levels of 0.001Nm, while ejection force measurements are performed to a definition of 0.01N."
The TEAMED Injector Test is engineered on the established TEAMED production system platform, a compact, Class 7-compliant platform developed by teamtechnik specifically for assembling and testing of medical devices.
When it comes to the inherent benefits of the company's platforms and services, as well as their cost-effectiveness, teamtechnik's head of medical technology, Peter Rittner, is more than convinced.
"We not only build excellent standard solutions, but also take on the challenge of brand new products and process developments," he says. "In doing so, we integrate assembly and testing processes within our platforms. These form a completely reliable basis for cutting-edge technology, maximum system availability and high output."