The Marchesini Group’s new and unique pharmaceutical track-and-trace line demonstrates how to serialize tablet bottles packaged directly in cases without first putting them into cartons. The line includes the RE 302 rotary labeler and a top-loading MCPV 850 monoblock case packer/palletizer. Both machines have their own traceability system that continuously monitors the products throughout the entire packaging process.
This line has special camera vision systems, installed on the bottle labeler and on the case packer/palletizer, which monitor the products from the initial coding phase of the individual bottles through to the palletization phase of the filled and sealed cases. The machines operate with “fail safe” logic to ensure zero errors.
The bottles fed from the machine upstream are already filled and capped and are transferred onto a conveyance system made up of two adjustable horizontal belts on the infeed of the labelling machine. These belts hold the bottles by their sides while an ink-jet printer prints a unique 2D code on the bottom, which is also verified immediately by the first camera.
On the infeed of the main bottle carousel, the second camera acquires the 2D code printed on the bottom, and sends the start signal to the shift register, which acquires the position of each bottle on the carousel.
The label, still on its web, is printed by the printer and the unique 2D code is verified immediately by the third camera. The code comprises a product identification code, batch number, expiry date, and unique serialized number. In addition, human-readable data is also printed. The camera grades the print quality of the serialized 2D code and scans the readable digits with an OCR/OCV system. The fourth optional camera reads the Pharmacode on the labels to identify them accordingly.
Once the label has been applied on the bottle, the fifth camera scans its unique serialized 2D code and, using the shift register, associates it with the unique 2D code printed on the bottom. This special application can be performed due to the fact that the machine is able to orient the bottle so that the 2D code on the previously applied label appears in front of the camera lens. This is a standard feature of the RE machine series. Each unique serialized code printed on the label, graded, and applied, is consequently associated with the 2D code, and printed on the bottom of the containers. By matching the two 2D codes, it is possible to trace the bottles in the case packer downstream.
Next, all the good bottles discharged from the RE302 1T continue through to the infeed of the case packer/palletizer MCPV 850. Here, they are grouped into layers on a glass surface where the control station is located. With the sixth camera, this unit simultaneously reads all the unique 2D codes printed on the bottom of the containers of each layer. The unique 2D codes provide an exact match with the unique serialized 2D codes associated with them on each bottle so that they can be acquired.
A pick-and-place unit picks up the layers of containers and places them inside the case, which is then sealed with adhesive tape. At this stage, the full and exact identification of the bottles inside each case is known. A label is then applied on the corner of each case, on which a unique serialized code is printed in real time, which is associated with all the unique serialized codes of the bottles inside the case. The seventh camera verifies this code printed on the label of the case. This operation starts the aggregation of the individual products inside the cases.
At discharge, each good case is picked up by the pick-up arm of the Gigacombi palletizer unit, which places it on the pallet according to the pattern set and saved on the machine’s PC.
Aggregation of the individual cases on the pallet continues, applying another label on the corner, which is verified by another camera, and on which a unique code will be printed in real time that is associated with all the unique codes of the labels of the cases.