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Since early 2022, Scanware Electronic GmbH has been providing track & trace solutions for Dermapharm group—a drug provider for the dermatology industry that produces, develops, and independent distributes its drugs—for a packaging line of a COVID-19 vaccine. The steps include serialization of the folding box containing the vials, aggregation of bundles, and on the pallet.
The project was given the green light in June 2021. Getting delivery of the vaccine under way quickly was a key concern, in order to pave the way for the new normal in light of the pandemic. The order for track & trace stations was placed at the end of July, and a few months later the parts were delivered and installed on site, followed by training for the operators.
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In January 2022, the first batch of the vaccine was processed on the line. One crucial step is cooling down the vaccine—packed by case—in a designated freezer. Before delivery, each box is packaged into a larger case with dry ice, making sure the temperature is always in line with the requirements of the vaccine. Naturally, this second case is again labelled to ascertain its traceability before being moved to a pallet and the freezer. To be in line with EU directive 2011/62/EU, each packaging step is aggregated based on the serialized data of the folding box.
The vials contained in the folding box leave the packer oriented lengthwise. They are then conveyed onto the mark & verify station. The box is printed with serialized data, and the print verified with a camera. Next, five folding boxes are combined as a bundle.
Then, an operator manually moves the bundle past a scanner, reading and identifying its contents, then places it in a shipping case. On the panel PC, the correct reading and processing of the aggregation data is visualized. Once the required number of bundles has been placed in the box, case inspection occurs and a printer provides the required box label. The station used for this step, CAPA MB, can be used for a ‘rework’, if required.
From there, the cases are moved into a deep freezer, cooling the vaccine down to the required temperature. Once they are ready to be shipped, cases are collected from the freezer and placed into an outer box filled with dry ice, then the identical label on the inner box is re-printed and placed on the shipping box. Finally, the pallet data is aggregated and dispatched on a mobile freezer.
Alongside the Scanware track & trace stations, there is the Scanware data management system IMPERA in full operation. Every step along the way is processed and aggregated in real-time. Upon completion, the data is transmitted to the site data base.
The track & trace units developed by Scanware which were utilized for the packaging inspection of the COVID vaccine are designed to be highly flexible and meet the needs of producers and contract packers. Quality parts and the integration of printers and scanners of major brands offer clients a broad selection of tools according to their preferences.
Completion of the project within the tight time frame was a challenge that Scanware and Dermapharm completed successfully by working closely together. Due to the pandemic, the majority of communication took place via video conferencing, a first on both sides. Fulfilling the requirements on the line has further strengthened the working relationship between the companies.