End-to-End Innovations - Pharmaceutical Technology

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PharmTech Europe

End-to-End Innovations
Integrated lines, flexible machines, and high-barrier materials enhance packaging options.

Pharmaceutical Technology
Volume 33, Issue 3, pp. 52-58

End-of-line equipment

Burgopak difficult-to-counterfeit design combines consumer convenience with tamper evidence.
Suppliers of end-of-the-line equipment such as case packers and palletizers are building greater flexibility into their units. One new case packer handles vertical and horizontal pack patterns or a combination of both with the push of a button. The two-robot unit suits operations that pack multiple products or use multiple-pack orientations that otherwise would require more than one machine or complex changeovers. It also offers tape or hot-melt sealing. The first robot collates product in the proper pack pattern, and a second robot picks and places the collation in a case. Simultaneous case erecting, accumulation, loading, and sealing maximize throughput ("HVCP" case packer, Schneider Packaging Equipment, Brewerton, NY).

A new machine palletizes corrugated cases and loads cartons into plastic crates and palletizes them. Central to the design is a four-axis gripper–transfer mechanism. Features include a compact footprint, servo-driven action, and easy management of different case infeed heights ("P9" palletizer, Cermex, Norcross, GA).

Rollprint foil lamination for blow–fill–seal overwrap applications addresses demands for solvent-free structures.
Doing more with less also is a popular theme with end-of-the line equipment. A collating system arranges containers in an alternating pattern to create a tight bundle. The arrangement fits more product into the same space. Potential benefits include material savings, waste reduction, and increased efficiency (single-lane in-double-lane discharge container-handling system, Morrison Container Handling Solutions, Glenwood, IL).

Labeling, printing, and coding

Two standouts among the many coding, printing, and labeling machines on display at Pack Expo included a syringe labeler and a flexo printer that prints blister foil on demand. The syringe labeler applies various pressure-sensitive label substrates to filled or unfilled syringes at a rate of 360/min. The machine loads syringes from an infeed star wheel onto a roller chain conveyor. A motion-controlled labeling head then applies the label, which is wrapped around the syringe as it passes under the independently driven wrap unit. Digital position indicators on all major adjustments expedite changeover from one syringe size to another. A vision inspection system is optional ("Harland Syringe Master," Harland America, Delran, NJ).

Snapsil's single-serving dispenser, available on the market in Australia, doubles as a utensil.
On-demand printing of blister foil reduces inventory and obsolescence issues associated with preprinted rollstock, cuts waste, speeds changeover, and minimizes downtime. Capable of running on either intermittent or continuous-motion blister packaging machines, the ultraviolet flexo printer prints in one color, accepts any index length, and handles web widths as great as 260 mm. A cartridge-based ink system simplifies color changes by eliminating the need to remove the ink fountain, as well as purging and cleaning activities ("EasyFlex" printer, Hapa, Zurich, Switzerland).

Toray's metallized polyethylene terephthalate offers a light, high-barrier alternative to foil laminations.
A carton coder that prints either crash-lock cartons or blister cards applies batch or production codes, expiration or sell-by dates, logos, and barcodes at a rate of 262 ft/min. Servo drives help maintain precise registration and support operation in intermittent and continuous motion. In addition, the system is available with thermal-transfer or hot-foil printing technology, as well as multiple print heads. Changeover to a new carton size is performed without tools or changing parts and takes about 1 min. The machine stops when it senses a double feed, thereby minimizing chances that an unprinted or double-printed carton will be shipped. Options include barcode scanner–verifiers and vision inspection ("ACF-400" carton coder, Norwood Marking Systems–Allen Coding Systems, Downers Grove, IL).


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