The news behind the news: Global serialization

Healthcare Packaging Publisher Jim Chrzan talks with Xyntek's President & CEO, Mac Hashemian, P.E., and Senior Vice President, Elliot Abreu, about gaining exclusive rights to Italy-based Antares Vision's serialization technology in the U.S.

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HCP: Earlier this summer, Elloit, you spoke at a Pharma Conference hosted by Mettler-Toledo in Chicago. You made the point that, while U.S. pharma companies have been slower to adopt serialization, this is not all bad because others have paved the way. Clearly, with 250 serialized lines in Europe and Turkey, Antares Vision has gained a tremendous amount of experience you can apply here in the U.S. Would you agree?

Abreu: Yes, and not only for full aggregation and serialization at the packaging line level, but for track and trace of active ingredients coming into the pharma processing plant.

Hashemian: To Elliot's point, with 60 to 80 percent of active ingredients coming from around the world, tracking what comes into the processing plant, and from where is critical. We're talking about the whole supply chain here, not just the package out the door.

HCP: Xyntek is a life sciences automation company. How is your role critical?

Hashemian: The key to our approach is we do not have to “rip and replace” existing equipment on the line. Unless a piece of equipment is unable to pass data back and forth, we will tie in what you have through a standard protocol so any pharma company can keep their print-and-apply machines, cameras, case packers, cartoners, SCADA, and PLCs. We will tie in to the companies' MES layer with a “plug-and-play” off-the-shelf solution based on standards.

Abreu: And, this becomes a key component to speeding up the validation process as well. We don't touch existing equipment so we only need to validate what we have added. Our solution through Antares Vision utilizes Cognex core technology of image processing boards and machine vision technology.

HCP: Still, any U.S. pharma company can expect a complex, long-term project, correct? This is no shortcut.

Abreu: No, this is not a shortcut, we have to be thorough. There will be an impact on productivity as each line is different and can expect to be down for at least one month and even up to six months with facility and line retrofits, new equipment implementation, label redesign, controls integration, testing, and validation. Our big benefit is cost savings by using as much of the existing line as possible.

Hashemian: It's not the technology that is going to fail. Everyone wants to rush through the planning process. You have to take your time up front with your requirements, training, design, and layout. With any new technology, buy-in from the user is key. Without that, even the best solution will fail.
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