Advanced robotic system streamlines syringe processing

Speed bin picker at Vetter

Learn more about our speed bin picker: a cutting edge system bringing a new level of efficiency to a syringe handling processes. 

As a leader in ​​aseptic fill finish, we’re committed to continually evolving our state-of-the-art services. Often that means evaluating and adopting new technologies that can help us further advance our approach to processing ​​sterile injectables

A great example: the speed bin picker, an innovative robotic system designed to streamline and accelerate key syringe handling procedures.  

This cutting-edge system applies advanced robotics to a once labor-intensive step: sorting loose, transparent syringes from transport containers into trays for further processing. The speed bin picker now automates much of this important process, which previously required a substantial amount of repetitive manual labor.

Arno Schroff portrait shot

At Vetter, we process both bulk and nested syringes. When syringes are removed from their tray or nest during processing, they must be packed back into a tray or nest before delivery to the customer. 

Arno Schroff, Director Site and Plant Development

This new technology has already brought us both valuable new efficiencies and special industry accolades – notably garnering the prestigious ISPE RAYA 2023 innovation award. More importantly, though, the speed bin picker has helped further support our commitment to capturing production efficiencies through innovative automation.

Joint project with a leader in advanced robotics

Development of the speed bin picker was a collaborative effort:  The system was designed and realized in a joint project with ​​ESSERT Robotics, a pioneer in advanced robotic applications for manufacturers like Vetter.  

Through a close, joint analysis of our existing process for sorting and organizing bulk syringes, we and Essert were able to pinpoint a valuable opportunity to streamline critical activities, alleviate strain on our highly skilled team, and free them to leverage their valuable skills in other areas of our process. 

This collaboration led to the development of a custom system built around two leading robotics platforms: the YuMi robot and the Universal Robot UR10. These two technologies have now been seamlessly integrated and carefully tailored to this unique application – and are now fully validated and operational at Vetter. 

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How the speed bin picker works

For our specific application, the YuMi robot and Universal Robot UR10 were combined to perform a specialized function: extracting loose syringes from a plastic transport box and placing them in trays for further processing. While currently applied to syringes and trays, this adaptable system can potentially be used for other packaging formats that require similar sorting steps (including nests).

Sorting syringes with the speed bin picker is a streamlined process:

Once the operator loads the speed bin picker platform with empty trays and plastic transport boxes, the system automates three key handling steps: 

  1. Picking: The Universal Robot UR10 selects and positions empty trays next to each of the four YuMi robot arms in preparation for filling. 
  2. Insertion: YuMi robot arms individually pick syringes from the transport boxes and insert them into the trays. Four trays are filled simultaneously. 
  3. Advancement: The Universal Robot UR10 picks and places the filled trays on the outfeed position. 

Once those three automated steps have been completed, the operator can simply gather the filled tray stacks from the outfeed position and move them to the next processing step.

The system’s remarkable level of integration and automation allows the process to run independently for sustained periods of over 80 minutes. This significantly amplifies throughput and productivity at a pivotal stage in our packaging process.

The seamless and repeatable process also eliminates hours of manual, potentially error-prone steps, further protecting our customers’ products while enabling our production staff to focus on other high-value tasks.

minutes of sustained run time
syringes picked per hour
hours, 7 days per week operational availability

More advantages of the speed bin picker system

Beyond streamlining the key syringe handling process, this pioneering robotics installation delivers an array of valuable benefits for our processes, people, and customers’ products:  

  • Efficiency: With minimal operator involvement, the system consistently processes​​ 2600 syringes per hour and can operate nonstop, 24/7. 
  • Precision: The highly automated operation minimizes human error, ensuring accurate and dependable syringe placement. 
  • Safety: Protective polycarbonate encasement safeguards the operator's workspace, mitigating risk factors. 

The system also relieves up to 11 employees from repetitive tasks so that they can devote their valuable expertise to other important processes. This results in a significant win-win scenario for our processes, team members, and the products we handle for our customers. 

Learn more about our commitment to continual advancement 

The speed bin picker is just the latest step in decades of technological evolution within our ​​state-of-the-art fill-finish facilities. Award-winning collaborations and innovations like these are a testament to our collaborative spirit, the power of our partnership with innovators like ESSERT, and our dedication to ​​production excellence.  

Want to see more of how we’re developing smarter, safer, and more efficient ways to bring critical medications to patients? ​Explore our world-class aseptic filling services

Female scientist using technology to manage a tech transfer

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