As pharmaceutical manufacturers face the 2017 deadline to meet serialization mandates, ESS Technologies has redesigned its line of cartoners, case packers and robotic palletizers to integrate easily with off-the-shelf serialization systems from the industry’s leading OEMs.
ESS Technologies works with manufacturers of track-and-trace serialization systems to integrate its cartoners, case packers and pallet cells with the latest technology for pharmaceutical serialization. ESS engineers seamlessly combine all the necessary components, including inspection systems, cameras, and labelers, to ensure a semi or fully automatic track-and-trace solution. As a system integrator, ESS has installed dozens of packaging machines integrated with off-the-shelf serialization systems.
The track-and-trace-friendly line of packaging machines includes the SC Series horizontal cartoners, VC 30 Series vertical cartoners, CEL 5 Series and V 30 Series robotic case packers, and WA Series wraparound case packers.
Products are labeled or marked with a unique ID code that is tracked and recorded from the infeed to case loading. This code is read at the cartoner or case packer infeed to ensure each product is tracked. ESS engineers have designed sensor-equipped end effectors that verify the presence of all bottles, bundles, etc. in the pack pattern as it is robotically picked and case packed. All information regarding the contents of each carton and case is stored in a PC provided with the serialization equipment. The PC interface communicates with ESS machinery as well as ancillary equipment such as labelers, which allows the serialization information to be applied to the outside of the cases. Track-and-trace cameras inspect the case load prior to sealing, with incorrectly loaded cases rejected automatically from the production stream.
The process of serialization extends to end-of-line palletizing, and the Robotic Mini Cell Palletizer can be integrated directly with ESS case packers. Case serialization labels may be verified by sensors at the infeed, or the robot may pick the case and present it to a camera for inspection prior to palletizing. Cases with incorrect labels are automatically rejected by the system. Robot end effectors can be fitted with sensors and programmed to place the case on the pallet so that the case label is visible on the outside. Pallets may also be labeled with track-and-trace serialization information. The complete packaging line offers high reliability in a small space, requires minimal operator training and can be changed over in 20 min or less.