“This is a good example of cooperation leading to progress in overall serialization technology,” Adriano Fusco,Strategy and Development Director for Antares Vision, told Outsourcing-Pharma.com.
“This active cooperation with selected launch customers is an effective business model to which Antares has ascribed from the very beginning, when we developed the first generation of our track & trace platform based on the requirements of a large, multinational pharma company,” he added.
The new unit, the Print & Check Flex Machine, is part of the Antares Tracking System (ATS) 3.0, the company’s third generation platform, which is seeks to maximize trace and trace capabilities of large contract manufacturers.
In developing the machine with PCI, Fusco said the first steps were defining specifications before testing the prototype in the field. “In doing so, we found that the best results were obtained when PCI’s project leaders were empowered to communicate their needs directly to the engineering team and, from there, conduct the fine tuning together,” he explained.
The main challenge was to fit all the needed functions in the most compact space possible. “As PCI is a very prominent, high-volume contract packager, that meant making the equipment capable of handling everything from a matchbox to a shoebox in any number of different formats,” added Fusco.
Additionally, he said it was a particular challenge outfitting laser and inkjet printing heads to make them workable across an “exceedingly broad format dimension” – the machine is designed to handle carton spanning from “match box” to “shoe box” (up to 270 x 100 x 200mm).
“From there, we had to fit a top labeler and a tamper evident unit, as well as two different reject bins,” added Fusco.
The machine includes a labeling unit equipped with thermal transfer printing, a dedicated camera to check the correct label position, integrity and readability of datamatrix and human readable codes, and a built-in tamper evident seal application module.
Fusco said the unit is the only one on the market featuring all mentioned functions in one single unit.
“The advantage of this integration is not only floor space savings, but also consolidation of operator management, as the user can dictate all machine functions from a single HMI while all format data is stored in a database,” he said.
As Fusco previously explained, regulatory changes are currently defining the serialization processes as the industry prepares for upcoming global requirements. As such, CMOs, such as PCI, are beginning to plan their serialization initiatives - and investing in new equipment is just one of many important issues taken into consideration.
Engineering Pharma is a column dedicated to exploring technology innovations, the design challenges of creating these offerings, and how the industry is working to keep pace with the possibilities.