New blister pack/carton machine solves fragile drug packaging problems

Oxoid, a specialist in microbiological cultures in the United Kingdom, overcomes the packaging challenge of handling fragile antibiotic discs with a new packaging line installed.

Oxoid, a division of Fisher Scientific, faced a rather thorny packaging engineering problem because of its dispensing cartridge containing an antiseptic drug sensitivity test (AST) disk. Oxoid products are used in clinical and industrial laboratories to isolate and identify bacteria or other organisms that cause disease or bacterial spoilage. As the leading producer and distributor of microbiological culture media and other diagnostic products, the company has made its products suitable for external use in laboratories to find the most suitable antibiotics and dosage levels for infectious diseases. . Since the company’s products are exported worldwide, it must comply with the different rules and regulations required by the markets it serves, so the product information is used in 10 languages. In order to promote the production efficiency and successfully complete this task, the company recently installed a Noack Model 623 blister packaging equipment and Promatic Model P100 carton pack equipped with Romaco.
Machine packaging production line.

The production line installed at the Oxoid headquarters and production site in Basingstoke, Hampshire, UK, with the help of two systems, can package dispensing cartridges with multiple AST trays. The two systems are connected with auxiliary equipment, including the UK's Electro -Mec ( company's professional-grade feeders and Germany's Laetus Polyphem's blister detection system, both of which were delivered by Romaco on a turnkey basis.

The Basingstoke plant is the company’s main production and administrative site, fully supported by wholly-owned sales and distribution companies in Europe, the Americas, Asia and even the world.

The Basingstoke plant is the company’s main production and administrative site and is fully supported by wholly-owned sales and distribution companies in Europe, North and South America, Asia and Australia.

Each AST tray, also produced at the Basingstoke factory, is filled with precise quantities of antibiotics and is housed in specially designed spring cartridges that can hold 50 trays. Then, each cartridge, approximately 8 cm in length, is sent to the packaging workshop for final sealing.
Highly automated production increase
According to Oxoid, when blister packaging machines and cartoning machines replace old equipment, the new production line has led to a sharp rise in output through higher-end automation. The Noack system has an extended feed channel that accommodates two Romaco cartridges designed specifically for Oxoid products. These feed channels operate one after the other to ensure a high degree of independence. When a memory is empty, the feeder will switch to another memory in order to keep the production of the product line continuous. The complete removal of moisture is an essential requirement for the correct operation of the cartridge. Each bag of blister therefore contains a bag of desiccant, which is fed by an Electro-Mec feed device mounted on the edge of the cartridge.

From the specific technical requirements to the installation and commissioning, this project has been going smoothly.

Oxoid's 99% of the AST disks are packed in a 5-cartridge package. The cartridges are packed into individual blister packs and there are seam holes between two adjacent blister packs. The entire size of the cartridge is 145 x 125 mm and the forming depth is 10 mm. And thanks to laser detection equipment and an integrated waste foil cutter that reduces operator intervention time, accurate sealing, perforation and punching are guaranteed. The output conveyor of the blister packaging machine also has a reject station that automatically separates the blister and those blisters that are only partially filled.

Since all cartridges are the same size, there is no need for size replacement parts on blister packaging machines. The only thing that will change is that Oxoid occasionally produces a single cartridge package. But this can be handled through special arrangements for punching tools, which again minimizes the need to change production.

One of the benefits of faster new equipment and electronic controllers is higher output.

Easy operation reduces labor costs

In the production of the Basingstoke plant, the correctly calibrated blister packs are sent directly to the feeder of the Promatic P100 cartoner. Because of the company's multi-language packaging requirements, Oxoid added a booklet feeding system to the cartoning machine to ensure that this information is inserted in each carton.

Project manager Carl Smith said that Romaco's equipment does not live up to Oxoid's expectations. Romaco is always the leader of the entire project, he pointed out.

"Our starting point is the blister packaging machine - we can produce at least 35,000 packs per day," he warned.

"As a compact, user-friendly and reliable machine, Noack 623's reputation is unquestionable," said Smith. “We do see higher output, thanks very much to the electronic control equipment on the production line, and thanks to Noack and Promatic equipment for their reliability and ease of operation.”

"We also managed to reduce the operator's intervention time to 10 minutes and minimize the number of employees on the packaging line. We believe this will be a big step forward."

We have seen higher output, thanks to the electronic control equipment on the production line, and thanks to the ease of operation of the equipment.

Moreover, Smith continued, “The blister packs are also very good in appearance and are less likely to distort. Thanks to the 520mm area on Noack that can control the degree of heating of the coils.”

Double opening system guarantees carton aperture ratio
Smith went on to say that an important factor in choosing this cartoner is because it guarantees that every carton is open. "When running this replacement device, the size of the carton is very small relative to the size of the blister, and we see it as a potential problem," he said. “But the cartoning machine's double-opening system completely wiped out this fear. Since the installation, this machine has not been interrupted.”

Although Oxoid also considered several other suppliers, Smith said that Romaco's proposal is the one that gives us real confidence. "From the point of putting forward specific technical requirements to every aspect of installation and commissioning, this project has been going smoothly," he concluded. This is a happy ending for a non-ordinary package that serves healthy products that are vital to life and death.

Reprinted from: Packaging Expo


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