Project Facts

Problem

To ease patient management hospitals and retirement homes across Germany usually sort pill subscriptions into weekly boxes that hold the right pills for each time in a day. This is however still a process done by hand. Pills are taken out of their original boxes and sorted into the patients' blister boxes. The process is both time-consuming and mistakes happen frequently and can pose significant health risks. 

kohlpharma wanted to develop a pioneering solution to provide patients with automatically sorted customised blister boxes that contain a patients' weekly pill subscriptions sorted by day and time of day. Each box would be filled accurately from a selection of 1,000 different drugs in minimum time at a minimized error rate.

SOLUTION

KIANA introduced near infrared spectroscopy (NIR) into the production line to allow for the high-speed intake of information on each pill's chemical composition. Cameras capture 256 points of measurements on geometry and near-infrared properties. These are combined in a classification algorithm to determine the type of drug within only 3msec based on the Fisher linear discriminant. The process works with absolute precision and is able to distinguish reliably between drugs with very similar composition even at fluctuating amounts of auxiliaries. The system is further able to judge its own competence. As a result the error in the process could be reduced by five orders of magnitude from an estimated 10^-1 in the manual process to 10^-6 for KIANA's fully automated solution. 

Impact

7x4 Pharma became the first pharmaceutical company able to provide efficient and customised pill blistering in Germany and with it a preferred partner of many medical institutions and retirement homes. The solution has since been implemented with another pharma company. Here measurements are made through plastic foil when pills are already packed.