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Compact Automation Technology Makes Modular Production Of Rapid Testing Equipment Possible

Removal of the test cartridge from a production module Picture credit: Ginolis, Finland

PC-Based Control For Covid-19 Rapid Testing Production Lines

The rapid testing equipment production lines made by Ginolis Ltd. in Qulunsalo, Finland have proven themselves in the market for almost a decade. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, previously delivered lines are now being converted to the Covid-19 rapid testing configuration. The compact automation technology from Beckhoff contributes significantly to the production equipment’s modularity and high quality.

Since its foundation in 2010, Ginolis has offered high-quality automation solutions for the production and assembly of medical devices and rapid diagnostics have turned out to be an especially quickly growing field in health technology.

Modular production lines are adaptable

All of Ginolis’s production lines are modular in order to be able to offer customers custom-tailored capacities with lots of opportunities for subsequent scaling. As Ginolis CEO, Teijo Fabritius explains: “Thanks to our modular approach, the customer does not need to worry about future volume requirements when he makes his investment, because to increase his capacities he only needs to add more modules. The various standard modules for things like assembly and inspection provide a huge competitive advantage since they are usually available and can ship very quickly. We have lead times of only a few months, which is very unusual in our industry.”

The individual production modules are controlled via a CX2040 embedded PC from Beckhoff that is equipped with an Intel Core i7 quad-core CPU running at 2.1 GHz. The control software is TwinCAT 3 NC I. Most production lines have several hundred motion axes and hundreds of I/Os. The individual modules generally have 50 to 100 EtherCAT I/O connection points and multiple Beckhoff drive axles that are controlled via EL72xx servomotor terminals, EL70xx stepper motor terminals, and EL7411 BLDC motor terminals. The intelligent XTS transport system is used in Ginolis’s high-capacity assembly lines.

PC-based control is integrated, compact and powerful

According to Teijo Fabritius, Genolis believes in Beckhoff’s PC-based technology for several reasons: “PC-based control allows us to seamlessly integrate multiple software-based functions into the automation system. In addition, the embedded industrial PC systems are very compact and powerful. Particularly where automation components are concerned, compactness is critically important since space is usually at a premium, especially in cleanrooms. And the more functions we can integrate through software, the more compact, flexible and easily upgradeable we can make our solutions. PC-based control technology provides an outstanding platform for meeting all these requirements. In addition, Beckhoff has developed many additional products that fit well into our automation concept, such as the software-based TwinCAT Vision real-time image processing system and the compact EJ-series EtherCAT plug-in modules that speed up the installation process considerably.”

A capable automation system is also essential to ensuring the quality and reliability of the production process, says Teijo Fabritius: “A good example is the so-called marker for myocardial damage. It must be determined from a blood sample, which makes it easy to understand why getting correct results is so important. The same applies to the handling of fluids, for which Ginolis has developed a technology that ensures the super-exact dosing of antibodies.”

 

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