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KEYENCE Vision Systems used as standard across Shawpak's Medical Packaging Machines

SHAWPAK is the market leader for standard and bespoke medical packaging machinery. Trusted by medical device and pharmaceutical manufacturers across the globe, Shawpak is known for their innovative packaging solutions. Their range of standardised machines uses proven technology to keep costs low and quality high, while their bespoke options keep things custom and flexible.

SHAWPAK Medical Packaging Solutions' standard machine lineup includes rotary thermoformers, pouch machines, linear thermoformers and rigid blister machines. Each of these solutions are designed, created, and manufactured to meet the specific needs of their customers, and to comply with the strict regulations of the industry. By combining the consistency and reliability of these machines with extensive aftermarket support, Shawpak ensures that customers who are producing medical devices on high-speed lines can expect high-quality packaging with built-in quality inspection from extremely dependable machines.

Shawpak's first development was their groundbreaking rotary thermoforming machine, which still remains one of their key products.

Unlike traditional linear thermoformers, the Shawpak RT Series uses a rotary drum to form, fill, and seal the medical devices. This unique design reduces the need for expensive clean room space, reduces waste on blister packs, and increases the flexibility for tool changeover.

In order to maintain the standard of excellence that Shawpak expects of all their packaging, detailed quality inspection needs to be carried out on all of their machines, including their various thermoformers. This is where Shawpak turned to KEYENCE and their high-spec Vision Systems.

These systems are used as standard on one of their blister packaging machines. Before each blister is sealed, KEYENCE cameras perform an inspection of the product using multiple tools to perform various checks.

First the camera checks that the product is placed correctly within the blister – a clearly defined profile on the product is taught to the tool. On every capture of the camera, the tool inspects a specified area for a shape that accurately matches the taught profile. If the tool finds a match, then the product has been placed correctly, if no match is found then the tool flags a reject.

Next is steel implant detection – the device makes use of a steel implant that is housed within an outer shaft. When the product is packed, this implant should not be protruding from the end of the outer shaft. For this inspection a back light is used which gives a clearly defined, sharp outline of the product. Due to the product being in high contrast to the back light, the blob tool can be used to detect whether the implant is protruding from the shaft.

Finally, the outer shaft had to be of a correct, predefined length with an allowable tolerance of +-0.5 mm. The profile width tool made short work of this.

Key to this application was KEYENCE's Multi-Capture Mode which was used to perform multiple captures of the same image with one trigger and execute all measurement at the same time. These different captures used different lighting configurations which meant all of the checks could be done at the same vision station with the same camera.

Lucie Markgraf of Shawpak's Sales & Marketing team explains Shawpak's decision to partner with KEYENCE: "When deciding on which Vision system company to standardise with, multiple companies were approached and their products were demonstrated. KEYENCE was able to meet all of Shawpak’s commercial needs when it comes to reliability, cost of products, functionality of equipment, and tech support available."

Having one vision system solution means that Shawpak can standardise their software and hardware, which ultimately means quicker turnaround of machines. Some of the vision applications that Shawpak is tasked with are quite complex, but with the extensive technical support that KEYENCE offers, these can be quickly and effectively solved.

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