Express Pharma

Big data enabling new standard in SCHOTT’s pharma glass manufacturing

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SCHOTT Glass India will be able to measure 100 per cent of every single glass tube in production

SCHOTT has recently integrated a specially developed big data solution into its pharmaceutical tubing production in India, replacing statistical sample-based quality assurance with 100 per cent on-line measurement.

With the new IT-based process called perfeXion, process- and product-quality data of each individual glass tube is collected online and in real-time — an innovation that sets new standards in the pharma glass industry.

During the multi-layered process of pharma tubing production, statistical quality control is not 100 per cent thorough. However, thanks to a unique big data approach, SCHOTT Glass India is now able to measure 100 per cent of every single glass tube in production. Instead of selecting a few glass tubes from each batch for statistical quality control, the new perfeXion system measures the entire glass tube many times over as it is drawn from the melt. Lasers recognise deviations in diameter and wall thickness, for example, and camera and IR inspection systems can even detect the smallest inclusions in the glass. Around 100,000 data tags are generated every minute. An integrated IT system, evaluating the continuous glass tube with real-time data measurements, calculates incidents of imperfection with such precision that it can later differentiate corresponding individual tubes which can then be sorted out. Each tube is checked again at its completion.

“This data enables for post-processing steps to be efficiently aligned with the tubing quality. With big data, the international technology group is creating a new industry standard and raising the quality of pharma glass production to a new level,” said Sundeep Prabhu, VP Sales and Marketing, SCHOTT Glass India.

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The system’s development took several years. Analysing a curved tube surface zooming down a production line was a particularly difficult challenge. The effort, however, has paid off, not least because the data analysis is a source of insight into how production can be further optimised.

Every year, SCHOTT produces about 150,000 tonne of glass tubing worldwide, most of which is destined for pharma packaging. Thanks to the new perfeXion approach, quality data can be traced back more detailed along the value chain. “There comes a particular responsibility being a pharmaceutical industry supplier, and traceability is a major issue in the industry,” says Dr Patrick Markschläger, Executive VP, SCHOTT Tubing. “By gathering information
on each individual glass tube, we’ve already made an important contribution to quality assurance for downstream post-processing steps at the very beginning of the value chain.”

“Companies that want to systematically control their production to make it more efficient in the long run can’t afford to miss a strategic use of production data,” adds Dr Frank Heinricht, Chairman of the Board of Management, SCHOTT.

“Making intelligently linked data available to others not only optimises processes – it creates new creative potentials for product and process development.” The system is tailored for production of glass tubing, but other areas of the company can certainly benefit from the findings in the medium-term. SCHOTT’s perfeXion has been installed at all its tubing lines globally, including its India plant in Jambusar, Gujarat, where the system has been implemented from July 1 onwards.

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