With the installation of 15 Travtec systems to date at its Macclesfield site, AstraZeneca is taking the lead in the development of effective technology solutions to meet point of use authentication for national and international legislation, both now and in the future. The Travtec systems at the Macclesfield site ensure consistent quality coding of all the necessary data.
Travtec has worked closely with AstraZeneca to install seven of its Pharmacarton Lite coding stations, seven Print Conveyors and a manually-fed system, all of which incorporate the Wolke m600 thermal inkjet coder, into existing lines.
The driving force behind the selection of the Travtec systems has been anti-counterfeit regulations introduced into the Turkish market, and latterly French CIP13 coding requirements, both of which have necessitated the inclusion of 2D Datamatrix codes onto packs. However, the European Parliament’s recently approved Falsified Medicines Directive and other moves to co-ordinate a standardised Track & Trace system for international markets have underlined the appropriateness of this move. The Travtec systems have the flexibility to be adapted for different coding requirements and can also be upgraded to cope with serialisation.
The Travtec option was adopted after a thorough evaluation of all available equipment by AstraZeneca which concluded that thermal inkjet was the best and most responsive technology for 2D Datamatrix requirements. At the same time, the company recognised that consistent coding could only be achieved with a reliable and effective pack handling system that would present each pack in the correct way. It was also important that any coding system was able to integrate easily with the company’s existing Systech vision equipment.
“Travtec was able to satisfy all these criteria,” explains John Currie, Project Manager for UK Operations at AstraZeneca. “The Pharmacarton system in particular is what holds the entire coding and inspection system together and ensures all the other elements work effectively.”
The Pharmacarton Lite has been designed to be easily integrated into existing packaging lines without extension. It provides total control of the carton during the print and vision process to ensure the accurate and high quality printing of high density barcodes and 2D codes to ECC200/GS1 standards. It combines a precision multi-belt conveyor with a synchronised top hold down belt and incorporates the Wolke m600 Advanced high resolution ink jet printer and an OCR/OCV optical character verification system. A fail-to-safety reject unit with pack confirmation further guarantees the authenticity of each coded pack and helps to maintain line speeds.
The m600 is able to print in real time. Data can be inputted from a remote server through the built–in Ethernet port. The user-friendly printer’s advanced HP technology and water-based inks deliver clean and maintenance-free coding onto a wide range of substrates, producing characters and bar codes up to 600 dpi, which is a particular advantage for the successful production of 2D Datamatrix codes.
Pre-programmed data makes set up easy and eliminates any potential for operator error. The Pharmacartons at AstraZeneca are running at speeds of up to 200 cartons per minute.
AstraZeneca says that the flexibility of the Pharmacarton has enabled it to be easily retrofitted to existing lines in different places, according to individual line requirements. Standardising equipment across the lines also means that operators can easily be moved to different lines.
“From a coding perspective this is one of the most challenging projects we have undertaken, but working with Travtec has made the process as painless as possible,” concludes John Currie.
“Twelve of these 15 systems were installed in just nine months. Inevitably commercial considerations meant some decisions and changes were left to the last minute, but Travtec was totally flexible and fully responsive to our needs, including making enhancements in line with our particular needs.
“Travtec fully understands the pharmaceutical market and this has contributed to a thoroughly professional and successful working partnership.”
AstraZeneca is a global, innovation-driven biopharmaceutical business with a primary focus on the discovery, development and commercialisation of prescription medicines for gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, neuroscience, respiratory and inflammation, oncology and infectious disease. AstraZeneca operates in over 100 countries and its innovative medicines are used by millions of patients worldwide. For more information please visit: www.astrazeneca.com