Xyntek and Antares Implement Fully Automated Bottle Line for Global Pharmaceutical Organization

The end-to-end process serializes bottles and uses 2D “Helper” codes to streamline unit-to-case aggregation.

Fanuc robotic arm presenting camera with bottles.
Fanuc robotic arm presenting camera with bottles.

Xyntek and Antares Vision have implemented a fully automated Bottle Line Serialization and Aggregation solution for a major global pharmaceutical manufacturer. The solution was implemented to ensure safety in the manufacturer’s pharmaceutical supply chain, protect the patients who utilize their products, and comply with the upcoming Drug Quality and Safety Act (DQSA) requirements.

The automated line incorporates an Antares Tracking System (ATS) serialization platform, Cognex machine vision systems, and Domino printing technology, all fully integrated to the existing OEM packaging equipment from Omega Design, Weiler Labeling, and ESS Technologies. The integrated line not only uniquely serializes labeled bottles (considered the smallest unit of sale), but also allowed the customer to configure their line to utilize aggregation for shipper cases and pallets as they required.

The end-to-end process features the application of printed 2D “Helper” codes on the bottom of the bottles to enable downstream unit-to-case aggregation processes. The process of adding and verifying the “Helper” codes is performed with the bottle unscrambler at the beginning of the line, where the bottles are empty. This ultimately reduces rework of rejected material and saves on OEE. The “Helper” codes are then associated to the Serialized labels on the bottle via a special knockout window at the infeed of the bottle labeler. This integration and association at the labeler allows the automated Fanuc robotic case packer to pack full layers of bottles into a shipper case using an Antares High Resolution camera. The 16MP camera is able to read all of the “Helper codes” of the full layer in one shot, regardless of the bottle orientation, prior to placing the bottles in the shipper case. The ability to perform 100% inspection on all bottle serial numbers entering the case ensures the correct aggregation of bottles to cases preventing FIFO/Inference or operator error. A unique serialized case label containing the unit to case aggregation information is then applied to the packed case. All of the data and aggregation hierarchy is maintained within the Antares Global Tracking System site server for further data exchange with downstream trading partners.

Mac Hashemian, P.E., CEO of Xyntek explains, “The solution implemented by Xyntek and Antares further simplifies the downstream product tracking and tracing as the product enters and navigates through the pharmaceutical supply chain; enabling verification steps to happen at the case or pallet level versus having to open every case to confirm the contents.”

Xyntek and Antares’ turnkey serialization systems allow for flexibility and options that can be configured to a client’s packaging, regulatory and serialization needs. The integrated technology ultimately ensures the production and distribution of safe and reliable product through its robust and intuitive line level functionality.