Consulting and technical implementation from a single source
Schubert-Pharma develops a new packaging process for Nephron Pharmaceuticals
Always the same, and yet so different. This is how you could describe the current delivery to the Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation in South Carolina.
As different as the individual functional elements may be, they’re all based on the TLM modular kit. Once again they bear witness to this system’s great potential for users – in this case, the pharmaceutical industry.
Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation is a world- leading manufacturer of generic medications for respiratory illnesses and a pharmaceutical contract manufacturer. Schubert supplied the company with four individual machines which fit into the overall packaging process.
THE PACKAGING PROCESS
The TLM tray loader
In the first machine, the blow-fill-seal blocks (BFS) are taken from the primary machine and sorted into the awaiting sterilisation trays.
A TLM-P4 depalletiser/palletiser robot puts the trays in place. Products are handled by TLM-F4 robots, which means that future product sizes can be processed without major size adjustments. The completed product pallets are automatically provided for the next process step (autoclaving).
The TLM product splitter
In the step following autoclaving, the sterilisation trays are depalletised and presented for product removal. The BFS blocks are removed from the trays in rows and placed directly into the separating station. The shearing motion of the separating tool separates ampules from the blocks. A second TLMF2 robot then removes the separated products from the separating station.
In addition to the gentle separation process, this is the process step where products are inserted into product carriers (so-called PUKs) upside down. Sensors check the “empty status” of trays and palletise them for reuse. A complete batch of the autoclaves can be handled in the presentation area where pallets come and go. In two downstream intermediate steps, the products are checked for proper sealing (vacuum check) and then provided with a shrink-wrap sleeve.
The top-loaded cartoning is an ideal solution for cartoning upright ampules of different heights and quantities in the carton. What needs to be emphasised regarding the cartoner is product handling. In a “handshake” of sorts, the products are taken out of the product carriers and transferred to a second TLM-F2 robot. In this transfer step, the products are swivelled 180 degrees and transferred to the loading robot in the desired orientation. The loading robot spreads out the product row into the desired number of ampules per row in the carton. In the cartoner, information on use is placed in the product carton before the closing procedure. Finished cartons are handed over to the downstream case packer.
The TLM case packer
In the last TLM machine, the product boxes are placed in a Fefco shipping carton. The case packer enables all common carton closure types, from Fefco to AFM cartons to gluing to tape closures (with additional equipment). An interesting detail is the inte- grated label dispenser with the option of “around-the-corner” application. Completed in this way, the shipping carton exits the packaging line toward central palletising and material logistics.
The line management system and track & trace functionality
Schubert designed and supplied an intelligent line management system (LMS) with integrated “track & trace” functionality for the entire line. It is used to manage all batch data and link codes to the product trays. The batch data is managed in the packaging process and assigned to the individual orders. The system receives corresponding serial data (radom- ised) for the product box from a higher-order data guidance system, groups them together in the shipping carton and communicates it back to the MES system at the production location.