In 2016, the drupa exhibition, which spanned eleven days, registered 260,000 visitors from 74 countries – has been an excellent result. Digital printing in particular seems to gain more and more importance for industry branches like pharmaceutical manufacturing.
With a revolutionary approach regarding flat cartons and labels for pharmaceutical products, Atlantic Zeiser has demonstrated excellence in this field. The approach was presented by product managers Helmut Schneider and Michael Urso in a talk titled “Serialization meets Late Stage Customization” at the “drupa touchpoint packaging” innovation park.
The pharmaceutical industry is currently facing two major challenges: there is the legal obligation to serialize all prescription drugs sold in the EU until February 2019, while lot sizes in pharmaceutical packaging lines are decreasing constantly, thus increasing logistical complexity.
The reasons for this are multi-faceted: one the one hand, drugs are segmented to a higher degree today, and there are a number of new medicines after the patents for many so-called “blockbuster drugs” expired. One the other hand, regulations for product declaration are different in for all countries. As a result, it is possible that a manufacturer of pharmaceuticals will require up to 20 or 30 different print styles of folding cartons for one identical medicine, depending on the number of export markets. If a drug comes in different dosage strengths, this number can easily increase rapidly. Managing this level of complexity in purchasing and logistics usually incurs high costs while also tying up capital through warehousing of raw packaging materials.
Meanwhile, the serialization of pharmaceutical packaging is a process that must not be neglected. Many major pharmaceutical companies have been dealing with this subject for years. In general, they equip virtually all packaging lines with equipment for serialization and verifying filled cartons. This adds complexity and causes further costs.
Atlantic Zeiser’s revolutionary machine concept that has been presented at drupa exhibition prints all market and product specific information on flat non-glued or glued cartons just in front of the packaging process and applies required serialization codes in one process step.
DIGILINE Versa is dedicated for this purpose. Thanks to the new OMEGA Pro DoD UV inkjet generation, the system is able to digitally print graphic and text elements as well as serialization codes in one single pass in four or six colors. Verification of the printed layout ist done by means of a high-resolution camera system that triggers an individual rejection if required. Based on UV-curable inks, the resulting printing quality features high contrasts and is resistant to water, light, and wear. This “two-in-one” late stage approach is interesting both for packaging printers wishing to supply their customers just in time and for pharmaceutical companies.
The powerful Unique Code Software controls the serialization process itself – i.e. generation, distribution, and collection of verified serial numbers in combination with the DIGILINE Versa – thus implementing process safety. Furthermore, collected data is available for further process steps such as aggregation or transfer to national hubs or authorities.
One single DIGILINE Versa can help to safe the expenses for serialization equipment for several packaging lines and thus simplify such projects considerably as existing and validated production machines can remain unchanged for European serialization regulations.
DIGILINE Label Offline, which was also showcased at the drupa exhibition, offers the same advantages. The system enables roll-to-roll serialization of pharmaceutical labels with a liner width of up to 165 mm at a maximum speed of 60 m per minute, thereby supplying several packaging lines equipped with label applicators at the same time. DIGILINE Label Offline also features a highly efficient camera system and a Unique Code Software interface.
At Atlantic Zeiser’s booth numerous visitors were able to witness the efficiency and reliability of both new systems. They consistently confirmed high demand and user value for these new solutions.
Helmut Schneider concluded his presentation at the „drupa touchpoint packaging“ with the following words: “As such system significantly contribute to reduction of overall complexity by combining late stage customization and serialization in one process step it will result in considerable savings for pharmaceutical manufacturers.”