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Editor's Message

Visual Inspection Technology: Not Just for the Pharma Industry

I am looking forward to the Visual Inspection Forum in April! This is one of my favorite PDA meetings, and I really enjoy the opportunity to learn about new advancements in visual inspection technology. For example, visual inspection is becoming increasingly automated like other aspects of parenteral manufacturing (1). At the same time, other industries are also adopting innovative technological approaches to visual inspection.

Food packaging is one such industry. None of us want to purchase flour in packages prone to leaking and end up with a car interior that resembles Antarctica. Manufacturers of food and beverage cartons are looking at in-line visual inspection systems that identify problems quickly without reducing in-line speeds (2).

In the aerospace sector, remote visual inspection is an option (3). This technology uses video borescopes to allow aerospace equipment manufacturers to inspect for corrosion, leaks, surface cracks and the like. In many ways, these aerospace engineers are like doctors interpreting endoscopy or MRI results. Remote visual inspection enables more efficient inspections in real-time for this sector (3).

Inspectors in the nuclear industry are using panoramic photo techniques to help them complete visual inspection activities more efficiently (4). Who would have thought that a function we sometimes use to take sweeping pictures on our smartphones could help ensure safety at nuclear energy sites?

Clearly, advancements in visual inspection technology do not benefit parenteral manufacturers alone, they support the capabilities of a breadth of global industries. Pharma, I am sure, can learn how these other industries are handling advancements in visual inspection. One way to expand your knowledge in this area is to attend the 2019 PDA Visual Inspection Forum in Washington, D.C. For the first time ever, this popular PDA meeting will be held in the spring. There may even be a few cherry blossoms still blooming, provided the polar vortex did not impact them.


  1. Prinz, H. “Automated Visual Particle Inspection.” Pharmaceutical Technology 41 (Oct. 2, 2017) 68–74.
  2. “Tech Advances in Package Manufacturing – Visual Inspection Systems Spotlight.” Esource News. Valco Melton (Dec. 18, 2018)
  3. Laffont, T. “Turbine Technology: Advances in Remote Visual Inspection.” (Sept. 5, 2014)
  4. Wood, D. “Taking Visual Inspection Technology to a New Level.” Power (March 1, 2018)