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