Counting Gel-Caps in Pharmaceutical Bottling Applications

Counting Gel-Caps in Pharmaceutical Bottling Image

Application: Counting gel-caps

Challenges: Very small object detection required

Solution: The D10 Expert Small Object Counter

Benefits: Customized for small object counting

In pharmaceutical bottling applications, it’s necessary to quickly and accurately count small pills, tablets, and gelatin tablets to ensure that the bottles are filled to the correct level. Since the exact locations of the pills as they drop are unpredictable, a fiber optic array with precise thresholds paired with a sensor possessing the high-speed electronics required to make split-second decisions is the ideal solution.


To solve this application, Banner Engineering has paired the technology of the D10D Expert with fiber optic arrays optimized for small object counting to create the D10 Expert Small Object Counter.

The preconfigured fiber optic arrays of the Small Object Counter make alignment and object positioning control less critical than when using single point emitter and receiver fiber optic assemblies. This assures reliable, consistent small object counting.

The sensor itself has been customized for small object counting, and offers features critical to the success of small object counting applications. The key feature for counting the gel-caps shown in this application is the Dynamic Event Stretcher (DES). Because the gel-caps are translucent, the sensor may see the single object as two objects resulting in a double count. To solve this problem, the DES increases (or stretches) the duration of a detection event by a user configurable percentage. The sensor will detect the front edge of the gel cap, and then the DES will stretch the duration of that detection, giving the gel cap time to pass through the fiber optic array without counting it twice.

The D10 Expert Small Object Counter also features a Health Mode Alarm, which helps determine when preventative maintenance should be scheduled to ensure reliable sensing, and an automatic compensation algorithm, which adapts the switching threshold to the sensor’s environment in real time. Small changes due to dust or contamination on the fiber optic array or small changes caused by ambient temperature shifts are filtered out by the microcontroller. These features ensure long and trouble-free operation while maintaining accurate counts.

The Small Object Counter is simple to set up and configure, with the default settings providing superb performance and reliability for most applications. Comprehensive setup and configuration options are accessible through the advanced setup menu.

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