In situations calling for the reliable labelling of medical products, the limitations of fully automatic machines are quickly exposed by extremely small batches and/or products that are prone to overbalancing. For this reason, the self-adhesive solutions specialist Herma has adopted a new approach with its semi-automatic wrap around labeller – 211 HC. It combines the high flexibility of manual product feeding with a complete equipment according to pharma specifications, including a printer for variable data and codes, and a camera for print and code verification. The 211 HC is capable of reliably and accurately labelling around 15 products a minute.
‘In this case, however, speed is not the critical factor,’ insisted Ulrich Fischer, head of product management in the Labelling Machines Division of Herma. ‘What we are partly talking about in this case is personalized medicines or at least very small batch sizes, as typically required for clinical studies in the context of authorisation procedures. The 211 HC ensures that even tiny batches of these items can be labelled to the same quality standards as high volume products that run at high speed through mostly fully automatic packaging lines.’ It is therefore an ideal machine for labelling small glass vials, syringes, cartridges and pens, many of which are produced in a form, size or weight that cannot be processed by fully automatic equipment.
The 211 HC rotates the cylindrical and dimensionally stable products horizontally between two motorised rollers and the pivot peel plate with application roller. The label is dispensed onto the rotating product and applied in the correct position by the application roller. For both, height and spiral alignment, the tolerance is no more than plus or minus one millimetre. Once the label has been applied, the pivot peel plate returns to its home position and the labelled product is removed from the labelling station by hand. In case of an error signal of the checking system, the machine stops and issues a message. The defective label can then be removed manually at the peel plate. A variety of thermal transfer and laser printers can be used to print variable information, such as a use by date or batch number, before the labels are dispensed. All conventional camera systems can be integrated into the machine for verifying correct printing and codes. If products with a variety of dimensions are to be labelled, the available format parts enable a quick changeover of the machine.
‘In pharmaceutical development, personalized medical care is currently fuelling a significant increase in the incidence of small batch sizes. In this context, the consistently efficient and reliable application of labels poses quite a challenge,’ commented Martin Kühl, head of the Labelling Machines Division of Herma. ‘By presenting the 211 HC, Herma is showing how this requirement can be met without compromising either labelling quality or process reliability.’