When the conversation turns to air bubbles, Werner Halbinger gets very serious. “I’ve declared war on them,” he says. That’s because “they cause all kinds of problems” for him as the image-processing and laboratory engineer at Seidenader Maschinenbau GmbH in Markt Schwaben (near Munich), not to mention the company’s customers. The company, which is part of the Business Area Pharma Systems, manufactures high-tech machines that check syringes, ampoules, and vials of all sizes for the presence of foreign particles and production errors.
Different inspection techniques are used depending on the product and receptacle in question. Most of the products tested are clear liquids in transparent and colorless glass receptacles, which undergo stringent quality assurance screenings. Anything that creates a shadow could or could not be a foreign body. “Unfortunately, air bubbles are also registered as shadows by the detectors,” Halbinger explains. Such bubbles used to present a major challenge to Halbinger, his colleagues, and customers throughout the entire pharmaceutical industry.