Vials def­i­nitely sus­tain­able packaged

Pack­aging vials without ­plastic – with this require­ment Reci­pharm approached Harro Höfliger. The result was a flex­ible side-loading system that safely places the sen­si­tive injec­tion vials into folding car­tons. Pack­aged into top-opening car­tons, they offer a well-arranged pre­sen­ta­tion to the user.

Envi­ron­mental pro­tec­tion and sus­tain­ability play an increas­ingly impor­tant role in public per­cep­tion. This topic is also highly rel­e­vant for the pack­aging industry. Although plas­tics are still nec­es­sary in some areas – for example as a bar­rier in cer­tain med­ical appli­ca­tions – wher­ever pos­sible, many man­u­fac­turers now rely on mate­rials from renew­able resources.

Many dif­ferent requirements

With mono card­board pack­aging, Reci­pharm focuses on a renew­able resource for the pack­aging of vials.

The idea of sus­tain­ability also moti­vated the con­tract man­u­fac­turer Reci­pharm when they decided to package their cus­tomers’ vials without plastic in the future. In the past, plastic blis­ters were often used for pack­aging the vials, into which they were inserted before car­toning. Mean­while, how­ever, many cus­tomers intend to focus on mono card­board pack­aging and thus a renew­able resource. At the same time it was impor­tant for Reci­pharm to con­tinue to present the vials in top-opening car­tons; this type of pack­aging can be opened con­ve­niently from above.

Saving resourcesThe use of inlays makes it pos­sible to dis­pense with plastic

How­ever, dis­pensing with plas­tics and this type of pack­aging were not Recipharm’s only require­ments when Harro Höfliger was com­mis­sioned to design the new machine: Flex­i­bility also plays a cru­cial role, because con­tract man­u­fac­turers must be able to adapt quickly to changing require­ments. This is why flex­ible sys­tems are needed that are easy to retrofit – every cus­tomer wants a dif­ferent con­fig­u­ra­tion of the vials in the box. And of course product pro­tec­tion is extremely impor­tant for the sen­si­tive vials.


Lat­eral pack­aging via side-loading

For Harro Höfliger’s pack­aging experts it quickly became clear that a side-loading machine for the flex­ible loading of folding car­tons would be ide­ally suited to Recipharm’s require­ments. “The use of card­board inlays makes it pos­sible to dis­pense with plastic blis­ters or trays: Inlays are inserts that are loaded with the prod­ucts and then placed lat­er­ally into the folding carton,” explains Markus Pfis­terer, Divi­sion Leader Pack­aging Tech­nolo­gies at Harro Höfliger. “These inlays pre­vent the prod­ucts from touching each other, thus con­tributing to safe down­stream pro­cessing – a par­tic­ular advan­tage for high-priced and sen­si­tive prod­ucts such as pens, autoin­jec­tors and vials.”

SafeInlays pre­vent sen­si­tive prod­ucts from touching each other

Flex­ible and resource-saving

A robot feeder ensures the desired flex­i­bility: In the system designed for Reci­pharm, a pick & place unit picks up the required number of vials and pro­vides for pre­cise inser­tion into the inlay in the desired con­fig­u­ra­tion. To ensure that the process steps work equally reli­ably with all the dif­ferent pack­aging sizes, Harro Höfliger’s experts car­ried out numerous test loops and opti­mized them time and again. That way, the process­ability of all for­mats could be achieved. In addi­tion to designing the machine, Harro Höfliger’s spe­cial­ists also pro­vided sup­port in the devel­op­ment of the pack­aging solu­tion. This made it pos­sible to opti­mally coor­di­nate processes and top-opening folding cartons.

Flex­ibleThe tech­nology enables the imple­men­ta­tion of diverse product configurations

At the begin­ning of 2020, the system went into oper­a­tion in Monts, France. It is used for the flex­ible pack­aging of vials into var­ious pack­ages of com­pletely dif­ferent sizes. For Markus Pfis­terer, side-loading saves resources in sev­eral ways: “On the one hand, we can dis­pense with plas­tics during pack­aging as desired, and on the other hand we also pre­vent waste thanks to the high level of product pro­tec­tion. Fur­ther­more, because of the simple changeovers, the machine can be used for very dif­ferent require­ments. And last but not least, side-­loaders are sig­nif­i­cantly more cost-effec­tive and space-saving than many com­pa­rable pack­aging machines.”

About Reci­pharm

Reci­pharm is a leading con­tract devel­op­ment and man­u­fac­turing organ­i­sa­tion head­quar­tered in Stock­holm, Sweden. The CDMO oper­ates devel­op­ment and man­u­fac­turing facil­i­ties in France, Ger­many, India, Israel, Italy, Por­tugal, Spain, Sweden, the UK and the US. Employing around 6,000 people, Reci­pharm is focused on sup­porting phar­ma­ceu­tical com­pa­nies with a full ser­vice offering, taking prod­ucts from early devel­op­ment through to com­mer­cial production.

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Photos: shutterstock/Man As Thep, Helmar Lünig