Pharma

The product carriers guided off-line are unloaded with Schubert system components and then transferred individually to the product belt.

Four Schubert TLM F44 systems recognise the products and insert these into the primary packaging from top to Bottom.

A tray sealing machine seals the loaded plastic trays with aluminium foil.

Loading primary packaging.

A labelling system integrated in the TLM prints labels and places them onto the tray lids. Positioning of lids is carried out with a TLM transport System.

The primary packaging (tray or carton) is packed via flexible TLM technology in American folding cases or alternatively in carton Trays.

Products to be packed on a line.

BFS products are hermetically packed in plastic Trays.

Entire line with product flow.

Requirements

Packaging line for two different products

Format changeovers in the shortest possible time

American pharmaceutical company Allergan had an unusual challenge for the team at Schubert-Pharma.

A vial product with light-sensitive eye drops needed to be packed hermetically in a plastic tray and another vial product had to be packed into a folding box, to be later presented on a shelf. The challenge was that both products had to be handled on the very same packaging line.

The bottleneck identified by those responsible at Allergan affected two aspects of secondary packaging. It was clear to see that the old, often only partially automated machines were reaching the limits of their capacity as a result of increasing demand. Additionally, it was not possible to switch over to various packing formats within short periods of time.

The eye drops packed into folding cartons can be bought over the counter. There are seven different carton sizes which contain between 20 and 100 packaged portions in order to provide consumers with a wider choice.

The prescription product is offered in packs of 30. These eye drops are sensitive to light and are therefore packed in a hermetically sealed plastic container. All products in sealed containers are only available on prescription.

Solution

How does the solution meet requirements?

Schubert-Pharma as a turnkey specialist

The project engineers at Schubert-Pharma came up with an optimal line concept after an in-depth project planning phase and were rewarded with the order to implement this comprehensive packaging line. In total, ten partner companies created the packaging line.

A complete risk-based validation package was also part of the contract, as was integration of all system components in Crailsheim. The line was delivered to the client and was commissioned into production within a matter of weeks – after wide-ranging validation work, acceptance tests and training client personnel.

A line management system was programmed to ensure smooth transitions between the different formats. This system covers and centrally controls all machines, camera systems, scanners and printers.

The software solution makes it possible to centrally control format conversions at the touch of a button. The variable data applied by the printers is then directly defined. All cameras automatically receive the same information for verifying data. Mechanical switchovers, such as feeding the magazine with various materials and the tool changes, take around 45 minutes.

At a glance

  • Project management including all preparation and related services
  • Integration of all sub-functions into one overall line: 7 cameras, 12 scanners, 1 printer and 1 check-weigher
  • Individual line management system: format changeovers can be carried out centrally at the touch of a button with the software solution provided
  • Validation work in accordance with GMP
  • Extremely flexible line

Added value

“Our intention was to give ourselves an advantage with state-of-the-art packaging technology from Germany. We succeeded in this regard thanks to Schubert-Pharma. Schubert-Pharma worked very efficiently and considerably less effort was required on our part to manage this extremely wide-ranging project.”

Technical Details

Packaging line for two different products

The vials are taken off-line on product carriers. Five portions packaged in plastic (contents: 4 ml) are connected in such a way that they can be torn off as needed. An F2 robot removes the products and places these individually in four tracks on a product belt. Four camera systems coupled with sensors monitor whether the correct 2D matrix code is on every single vial and whether this code is readable. As is the case with all subsequent tests, units discovered to be faulty are rejected.

On the picker line, the medication is sorted into plastic trays or folding cartons in the corresponding quantity depending on format. The relevant packaging is sorted on carriers on a belt in the opposite running direction. Before this, the carton blanks or plastic trays are automatically taken from a magazine. The carton blanks are erected, glued together using hot glue, then placed in the carrier.

The next process steps differ depending on the packaging being processed.

Folding box

Folding cartons receive a leaflet placed by an F2 robot before being sealed in the following TLM module. A laser system adds a code to the boxes in the discharge part of the machine. The boxes are then transported to a checking station by another TLM machine, whose functions are only required for plastic trays and in which a camera system verifies the printed code. Every single box is also packaged in film in the adjoining shrink-wrapper and hot air tunnel. A check-weigher integrated into the conveyor belt system monitors whether the correct weight was achieved.

An additional TLM module puts the folding boxes into shelf-ready packaging. Trays are then erected out of a blank, glued, then loaded with between 24 and 40 packs depending on size. The line then transports the carton to the sealing machine. From there, it is taken from the line to be handled by the logistics team.

 

Plastic trays

A tray sealing machine is the next station after loading for trays with prescription eye drops. Here, the containers are sealed airtight with aluminium foil. A camera system monitors the discharge from the station to see whether sealing is carried out properly. In both subsequent TLM modules, through which the folding boxes are simply transported, a leaflet is placed onto the aluminium foil and then a plastic lid is placed on top. Both components have been automatically extracted from a magazine beforehand.

A label is applied to the lid and then printed by a device which is integrated in this line part. A camera system checks the printing. Another camera system can be found in the discharge area of the machine. This system checks that the label is correctly in place and also verifies the printing of the label.

The now-sealed trays, as well as the folding boxes, then pass through the shrink-packer and the check-weigher. The next component can also be used for both packaging types: the containers are packed into outer cartons in the TLM system. These cartons are erected from the blank and sealed on the underside with adhesive tape. The upper side of the outer carton is also sealed with adhesive tape in the final part of the line.

Overall performance
  • Up to 500 products/minute
  • 10 integrated sub-functions put together in a complete line
  • Individual line management system
  • Various testing systems in use: camera and checkweigher
  • Quick format changeovers

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