The demand for disposable medical devices continues to grow at an impressive rate, and that’s good news for machine builders who supply the market. At the same time, manufacturers are exerting more pressure on OEMs for automated processing and assembly equipment that can deliver highly specialized, single-use medical devices quickly and affordably.
Simply put, manufacturers need flexible machines that produce more variations at high volume. And oftentimes, they seek to ramp up production within existing manufacturing space as well. These objectives can be hard to achieve using conventional conveyance systems.
The Shortcomings of Legacy Conveyance Systems
Rotary dial technology and precision-link conveyors are among the most prevalent transport methods used in legacy processing equipment for drug delivery devices, contact lenses and other disposable products.
Both conveyance options have limitations that are intrinsic to synchronous, fixed transport systems. Based on rotary motors and indexed motion, the systems are designed to advance to processing stations in one direction on a preconfigured path at a fixed speed.
For example, in a rotary dial system, the turntable may advance forward 45 degrees to each station every 0.5 second. The system cannot go backwards and a product requiring a different process cannot take an alternate path.
To accommodate product variations and divergent operations, additional process stations must be added – and be activated or remain idle depending on product run. This approach not only increases the footprint of the machine, but also compromises overall speed and efficiency as products advance to idle stations.