QC Counting In Manufacturing Settings-Are Trays & Scales As Accurate As Kirby Lester KL1?

The Case For Using Kirby Lester KL1 Simple Counting Device In Pharmaceutical, Nutraceutical, & ‘Widget’ Manufacturing

Featured in Solid Dose Digest, March 9, 2020

Q: Are weigh scales or tray-and-spatula counting adequate methods for spot-checking product quantities during QC?

A: No, for quality control (QC) on tablet and capsule production lines and for inventory checks in a manufacturing setting, you may want to replace outdated counting methods with more modern and versatile semi-automatic counting machines. A small, tabletop, tablet counting device like the Kirby Lester KL1 is lightweight, mobile, and affordable, and  can fill a variety of counting needs in a manufacturing setting or lab. Most important, this semi-automatic counting device outperform manual or outdated counting methods such as the weigh scale, plastic tray and spatula, or roller board or pegboard.

The Problem With Scales & Counting Trays

Continuing to use an older QC method because it’s inexpensive or because it’s the method that the company has always used isn’t valid in today’s precision-first manufacturing environment. Outdated manual counting methods or weigh scales are 25-50 percent slower than semi-automatic counting devices and are 95 percent accurate at best. In fact, tray-and-spatula or scale accuracy rate plummets when:

  • A drug product is very large or small, has a chalky character, is fragile, or has a new shape
  • A technician becomes distracted
  • The job involves counts larger than around 90 piees
  • The lighting is inadequate
Such factors don’t negatively affect modern counting machines like the Kirby Lester KL1.

KL1 Superior QC Counting Machine

The KL1 is the gold standard for fast, simple QC or inventory counting in manufacturing settings. The device includes high-tech internal sensors to read each tablet or capsule as a piece of data and rapidly calculate the number that pass the sensors. The KL1  effectively eliminates the chance for human error. At less than 7 pounds, it is small enough to sit on a work surface or be attached to a mobile cart and requires only a standard electrical outlet.

The KL1 is useful anywhere tablets/capsules or small objects (smaller than 0.89″) must be accurately inventory-counted or bottled. (Minimum pill diameter is 0.125″ / 3.175mm; Maximum pill size 0.86” long/22mm and 0.74” wide/19mm.) Often, the device is placed alongside full-scale bottle-filling lines. Applications include:
  • Performing quality checks for a packaging or bottling line in a pharmaceutical manufacturing plant or contract packaging facility
  • Counting drug product in an R&D lab
  • Filling bottles in small- to medium-capacity operations where a full-scale production line is impractical
  • Finishing off the count of the last few hundred tablets or capsules of a bottling run for an automatic filling line
  • Packaging clinical trial medications for a limited number of subjects

Considerations For A Fast QC Counting Device

Consider these factors when there is a need for accurate piece-counting in a manufacturing setting:

  • Can the device accommodate any tablet or capsule without recalibrating, or does it need to be calibrated for every specific brand or item in the National Drug Code (NDC) directory?
  • Do you want a simple counting device, or do you want one that keeps a record of the count?
  • Is speed important? Models differ dramatically in their processing times. The KL1 handles up to 15 pieces/second.
  • Can the device be quickly disassembled for cleaning or disinfecting?
  • Is the device used in other discerning industries, such as in retail pharmacies where it’s essential to quickly and accurately count every order of expensive and potentially hazardous tablets or capsules? The KL1 us trusted by hundreds of thousands of pharmacists and technicians worldwide.
  • Is the device mobile and easily transported between locations, assembly lines, and labs?
  • Does the provider allow a no-cost trial usage of the device so you can perform a side-to-side trial?

For more on industrial setting tablet/capsule handling, see Tablets & Capsules.