Variable coding at the latest possible stage: Atlantic Zeiser responds to smaller batch sizes for coding and printing pharmaceutical packaging with LSC-friendly integration solutions.
Wherever frequently changing information needs to be printed on packaging or products, Late-Stage Customization (LSC®) is the solution of the future for the cost-efficient coding and labeling of pharmaceutical and cosmetic products. At FachPack in Nuremberg (25 – 27 September 2012), at Stand 117 in Hall 4, Atlantic Zeiser will be demonstrating the results of the integration of the OMEGA 210 DoD UV inkjet printer, in combination with the right SMARTCURE UV-LED dryers, in existing production lines to allow variable coding and marking at the latest possible stage in the production process. This technology is particularly advantageous when it comes to small batches.
Complex and capital-intensive packaging lines, when operated cost-efficiently, are a key factor of competitiveness. It is essential to accelerate changeovers from one product to another and minimize idle times. When complex, time-consuming conversions are needed to prepare a machine for the next job, valuable productive time is wasted. A large-scale packaging line is therefore primarily measured in terms of its versatility and flexibility. LSC® print modules like the OMEGA 210 UV inkjet printer significantly increase the flexibility of this type of system. They can be retrofitted in existing systems at the most appropriate point.
Printers like the OMEGA 210 must allow rapid job changes combined with maximum machine availability. The integrated DoD inkjet print technology must also ensure very high print quality on a range of surfaces such as cartons and aluminum blister foil, as both materials are printed sequentially in a single process. This demands optimum coordination between printers and perfect adhesion of the UV-curing inks. Atlantic Zeiser develops and manufactures the UV inks in-house, formulating them to suit the OMEGA printers and different substrates.
Case study: MediSeal GmbH
MediSeal GmbH, based in Schloss Holte, Germany, is an excellent example of how LSC® allows all the necessary codes and data to be printed in the final stage of production. The well-known manufacturer of packaging solutions for pharmaceutical products opted for print components from technology supplier Atlantic Zeiser and, using the late-stage customization concept, deployed them to achieve quick and easy changeover of production lines between packaging orders for different products. Thanks to OMEGA DoD inkjet print modules from Atlantic Zeiser, machine availability has been dramatically increased by using the printers for coding and serialization at the latest possible stage in the production process.
“Our requirement resulted from the trend towards smaller batches,” explains Stephan Plewa, managing director of MediSeal GmbH. “When bestsellers lose their patent protection, ever more specific medications are developed, often for a much smaller category of patients.” This means that large production runs no longer consist of a single variant. Instead, production lines need to be frequently changed over to new products, formats or country specifications. This in turn results in more machine idle time and inevitably lower production efficiency. To increase productivity again, it is essential to optimize these changeover processes.
Minimizing changeover times
MediSeal has installed four OMEGA 210 print units with corresponding SMARTCURE 225/200 UV-LED dryers from Atlantic Zeiser. Blister packs and packaging are printed separately on the same production line. For cartons, multicolored corporate layouts are used to print preformed flat folding boxes with all the necessary variable information and machine-readable check codes. Product tracking codes are then added. Neutral, unprinted blister packs are manufactured on a blister machine. On the aluminum foil an OMEGA 210 prints a 2D data matrix for product identification. In the second stage the code is checked and if required the blister packs are printed in multiple colors to the customer’s specification.