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Hardware and automation software for blister machine

Sector: Software automation

Customer: Partena S.p.a.

Contact person: Erik Levada

Category: Design and development of automation hardware and software



Partena S.p.a., a company based in Carpi (MO) and world leader in the design and supply of machinery for pharmaceutical packaging and wrapping, following the conception of a new cutting group with positive rejection logic and an innovative pitch control system for its blister machines, commissioned Asotech to design and develop a software and hardware solution able to manage the system to the height of the required performance.
Specifically, these are the requests made to the Asotech Software Automation staff coordinated by Erik Levada:

Performance of 200 cycles per minute
Perfect synchronization between the belt and the punching system with tolerances of less than 2 tenths of a millimeter
Possibility to place the blister in different points according to its conformity or non conformity
Design of an algorithm able to calculate in real time the actual size of blisters moving on the belt


The customer, who took care of the design of the mechanical part of the machine, provided Asotech with all the appropriate specifications regarding the operation of the system. Before the intervention of the Asotech team, in these blister machines all the blisters were sent out independently from the conformity or non conformity of the product and, only in a second moment, a device located downstream of the machine decided the rejection with consequent risk of errors.

In order to face this problem, Partena conceived a new shearing group that would allow to deposit on the outfeed belt only the blisters that conform, and entrusted Asotech with the identification of the hardware and the development of the software. In this way, the software receives information on the conformity or non-conformity of the product and, once it is cut from the shear, it is picked up by a transfer device. At this point, if compliant, it transfers it to the output belt; if non-compliant, it deposits it in a scrap container.

Asotech also worked to improve the speed of the machine, going beyond what had been the performance requirement, which reached and exceeded 250 cycles per minute.

In the process of evaluating the best hardware platform on which to develop the software, the Asotech team focused on the level of avant-garde on the motion part and the technical characteristics of some input devices, necessary to be able to reach the prefixed objectives, identifying B&R Automation as the supplier, of which it is a certified partner.

In order to synchronize in a precise and punctual way the three main motorizations – rotary gripper, shearing machine and transfer device – Asotech professionals have created in the software a virtual master, that is a virtual motor, to which the three real axes are connected by means of electronic cams. Each turn of the motor corresponds to a cycle of the machine: the rotary gripper makes the ribbon move the length of a blister, the shear cuts and the transfer device picks up the blister, sending it to the exit ribbon or to the waste container.

In the software, Asotech, has therefore implemented:

The virtual master, to which, at each turn, corresponds a cycle of the machine.
The management of the 3 real motors, i.e. the rotary gripper, the shearing machine and the blister transfer device.
The electronic cam that joins each of the real motors to the virtual master


Finally, regarding the customer’s request to synchronize the tape to the shearing system with a tolerance of less than 2 tenths of a millimeter, Asotech has developed a special algorithm. By analyzing in real time the information received from a sensor, which detects information relating to the number of blister alveoli and their size, the algorithm makes it possible to know in real time the actual size of the blister and to communicate it to the rotary gripper. This is to avoid that, since sometimes the nominal size of the blister does not coincide with the real one, the punching system would get out of sync with time, risking to lose the centering of the blister with the puncher.


Asotech has met all the customer’s requirements, exceeding the performance demand of the blister machine: more than 250 cycles per minute against the 200 required.

In case of format change, modification of the size or of the number of blisters, thanks to the software developed Partena will simply have to set new format parameters by means of a suitable operator interface.

The customer has been able to count on a team of professionals, who worked in the required time, available to make changes throughout the development and testing phases.

During testing, moreover, Asotech, with a view to optimizing work, included in the software a system for saving data on Excel files in order to transfer the machine configuration in case of hardware replacement and, if necessary, to modify it without the need for development software.

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