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Hotmelt adhesive as proof of genuineness 

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The Anti-Counterfeiting Directive stipulates that in the future medicines requiring a prescription must have at least two safety features that make it possible to verify genuineness along the entire supply chain. This law places obligations not only on the producers themselves, on wholesalers and pharmacies, but also on the contract manufacturers and packaging companies retained by the pharmaceutical company.

With about 2500 employees currently at a total of nine sites in Germany, France, Great Britain, the USA and Canada, the Klocke Group, founded in 1963 with headquarters in Weingarten/Baden, Germany, may rightly be considered in the upper echelons of its industry. Among the diverse interests of the company, extending from products for the body care and cosmetics industry to food and beverage producers, products of the chemical industry as well as washing and cleaning articles, pharmaceuticals is the dominant area with about 70 percent.

In addition to the largest IDT plant in Dessau-Rosslau, which focuses on biotechnologically produced vaccines, and Klocke Pharma-Service GmbH in Appenweier, which mainly packages pharmaceuticals in bags, the headquarters, located between Karlsruhe and Bruchsal, is the third company's third branch office in Germany. This is the site of Verpackungs-Service GmbH, which currently has 240 employees and concentrates on packaging pharmaceutical solids and non-sterile liquids. 

An ultra-modern machine park is available in Weingarten/Baden, which includes among other things capacity for 500 million blister packs a year and 20 packaging lines for medicines in solid form. Given that there are several hundred variants of boxes with different dimensions and blister fittings for roughly 50 customers, it is clear what high demands there are in terms of flexibility for the technical equipment.
 

Successive retrofitting since 2014

Downstream from the machines used to form the blister packs, produced by the Romaco Group, are twelve Uhlmann Pac-Systeme cartoning machines for secondary packaging. Modern hotmelt application systems from the US American adhesive technology specialist Nordson with European headquarters in Erkrath Germany have been installed successively on these systems.  

This is based on the concept that one of the safety features can be implemented by a special adhesion of the folding boxes or their flaps. The result of this is that the containers cannot be opened for the first time without visible and irreparable damage. This ensures that they are original.

"We began taking suitable measures early on to comply with the new EU directive. We started with serialisation first in 2014 and two years later we conducted the first tests for tamper evident adhesive. The tests went so well that by the end of 2018 we had installed it on all our cartoning machines for hotmelt application systems of the Nordson ProBlue Liberty series," report Dominik Katarzynski, Manufacturing Manager of Klocke Verpackungs-Service GmbH and Philipp Bretschneider, Head of Technology Purchasing. 

Permanently connected flaps

The technical details will be explained here using as an example the cartoning machine model 130 C under practical operating conditions. Depending on the size of the folding boxes, it operates at a speed of 75 to 130 cycles per minute. Boxes 125 x 65 x 34 mm in dimension (L x W x H) were processed during the demonstration. The insertion flaps are connected permanently and sufficiently on both sides together with the two side flaps using the two adhesive points.

The hotmelt is applied by two pneumatic applicators type MiniBlue II with ball-and-seat module and Saturn precision nozzles. They have full plastic insulation and achieve a minimum switching time of two milliseconds. Their service life, more than 100 million cycles, is extraordinarily high.

The two dispensing guns are supplied with hotmelt adhesive from a series 7 ProBlue Liberty melter equipped with an energy-efficient, reduced-volume reservoir so that only the amount of adhesive actually needed is provided. As the type designation suggests, the melter provides an output of seven kilogrammes per hour. The granulate is supplied automatically from a 240-litre storage tank, with all components thus forming a closed system. This excludes the possibility of dirt entering the hotmelt.

Of course a high-quality glue is especially important for achieving optimum quality. A crucial factor for tamper-evident adhesion is a high softening point, to make it more difficult for the folding box to be opened without authorisation using an external heat sources such as a hair dryer.

Flexible and space-saving

There were other reasons for choosing Nordson systems as well. "Since ProBlue Liberty devices are stand-alone, this ensures a high level of flexibility. Especially since they are easy to program and can easily be eliminated from the processing sequence if there are ever no orders with no proof of genuineness to process. We also installed the melters on roller frames for reasons of space optimisation," explains Dennis Herdle, Plant Foreman for many years and as such closely involved in the technical implementation in close collaboration with Raphael Linke-Fröhlich, the responsible Nordson-Area Sales Manager.

Dominik Katarzynski and Philipp Bretschneider emphasise the advantages of the investment in terms of cost: "Converting the mother machine with the corresponding module extensions would have involved extensive technical overhead and would not have been a good investment. Another cost-saving aspect is that the hotmelt adhesive eliminates the need for a fourth flap, which is alternatively used for anti-counterfeiting protection and is relatively expensive to apply. This would also slow down the speed of the systems. All in all we are very satisfied with the hotmelt adhesive application system and the cooperation with Nordson, and we have already completed the first tamper-evident orders with no problems at all."

 

For details, visit Tasman Machinery Pty. Ltd. 

 

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