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Good health is prized by individuals and society alike. Thus, it’s no wonder that the pharmaceutical industry is a major consumer of automated testing facilities. The risks posed by dosing errors or by the packaging process during manufacturing and the consequences that can result are too serious to be treated lightly. Laetus GmbH (Alsbach-Hähnlein, Germany) specializes in the development, production and marketing of highly developed control systems for pharmaceutical packaging, from the identification of flawed packaging material to its secure removal from the packaging process. Thanks to Laetus’ control systems, pharmaceutical companies minimize error risks and guarantee the traceability of each individual package.
Whether verifying the completed filling of tablet blisters or the correct packaging of medicines, many Laetus control systems are based on optical capture of the product using high-performance digital cameras. For many years, Laetus has relied on industrial cameras with FireWire interfaces and has worked closely with Allied Vision Technologies (Stadtroda, Germany). Thus, in various Laetus product lines, AVT cameras from the Guppy, Marlin and Pike families are used; a short time ago, a generational change came to pass when the Stingray succeeded the recently discontinued Dolphin camera.
“Historically, as new Laetus products were introduced, the variety of cameras grew larger and larger, even more so as we used different variants with straight or angled lens mounts,” says Günter Rodeck, Director of Product Management at Laetus. “As satisfied as we were with every single AVT camera, this variety wasn’t optimal for the efficiency of our processes.” From this came the idea to standardize camera modules for Laetus.
The impetus for this project was the introduction of the Stingray camera family from Allied Vision Technologies. This high-performance industrial camera had been modularly conceived and marketed as a “Transformer Camera,” adaptable and multitalented—allowing imaging system developers to mix and match à ala carte from a variety of sensor variants, angles, filters, connections and housings. With the FireWire version alone, more than 2,500 combinations are possible; further models with Gigabit Ethernet interfaces have already been announced.
“Similar to the Stingray, we wanted to build our systems modularly and work with standard components,” Rodeck explained. “The Stingray itself provided the perfect basis for a uniform camera module; after all, it has the broadest palette of sensors and a board level version in its modular conception.”