This year's Interpack exhibition in Düsseldorf, Germany saw the launch of a range of new packaging, analytical and manufacturing solutions for the pharmaceutical industry.
Italy's Marchesini presented its new fully-integrated robotic blister production line, Integra. The system, which is designed to combine carton thermoforming and packaging in a single good manufacturing practice (GMP) approved production block, is capable of handling 300 blister packs or 150 cartons per minute.
Integra consists of a fully enclosed feed unit that can be removed and replaced with a second sealed unit during cleaning operations, thereby allowing production to continue. The system also incorporates the Robocombi connection unit, which is designed to pick up individual blisters and place them directly in the cartoner buckets without any intermediate processing.
Marchesini Group spokeswoman Manuela Goldoni told in-PharmaTechnologist.com that Integra's "compact nature, the ability to install it in two different rooms even if it is a single block and the robotised connection [the Robocombi] which guarantees blister pickup and placement directly in to the conveyor buckets," are just some of the advantages the system has over competitor products.
Marchesini also demonstrated its MB460 robotized thermoformer and MA305 continuous-motion cartoner.units. The MB460 uses a series of vertical plates that descend when production runs are halted, helping to prevent overheating. The MA305 is built with a balcony structure that allows full visibility and inspection, which allows for the easy identification and residue at the end of a batch.
From here product is moved to the FA04 balcony-structure bundler stretchbander, the final stage of Marchesini's system, which is capable of producing up to 50 bundles of sealed product per minute.
Romaco's P91 S and VF-18
During its presentation, Italian packaging equipment specialist Romaco launched the P91 S intermittent motion cartoner. The system is capable of packaging 140 cartons per minute, equivalent to the rate achieved by machines that operate continuously.
The cartoner replaces the chain and cog mechanisms, common to older systems, with a sophisticated timing belt. Romaco explained that this approach minimises the level of mechanical wear and tear, thereby helping to lower maintenance costs.
To date, four manufacturing firms have ordered the P91 S system, with Italian drugmaker Farmigea scheduled to be the first to receive it. Marco Benvenuti, manager of Farmigea's plant in Pisa, said that "we have high hopes of extremely flexible control of production, as well as savings in costs and time."
Romaco also demonstrated its VF-18 aseptic liquid filling technology. The platform has the capacity to fill 18,000 vials an hour in accordance with the strictly aseptic needs of the pharmaceutical industry. The system is designed to allow through-wall installation, minimizing the required clear room space.
Sepha's PackScan seeks to follow in BlisterScan's foot steps
Northern Ireland-based industrial packaging specialist Sepha launched its PackScan testing technology, which provides manufacturers with a novel means of assessing the integrity of product sachets.
Several years ago, Sepha's pioneering BlisterScan testing system enabled drug manufacturers to conduct a non destructive assessment of blister packs, replacing the destructive methylene blue dye (MDT) test, sparking a minor revolution in the industry. The firm is hoping that its new technology will have a similar impact among pharmaceutical sachet manufacturers.
PackScan is designed to test the integrity of up to four product sachets at the same time and is capable of detecting leaks as small as 10 microns in diameter. The system can be "changed over" to a new product line in around half an hour and is controlled via a touch screen display that is compliant with CFR 21 Part 11 data storage standards.
In addition, because the assessment is non-destructive, those non-porous sachets that pass can be returned to the manufacturing line, helping to provide cost savings and reduce the level of wastage.