LIVE FROM INTERPACK: Travtec wins contract worth £1m with AstraZeneca

Installs coding and marking equipment at UK site in Macclesfield

The Travtec Group has signed a £1m contract with AstraZeneca, in which the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical giant has installed seven Pharmacarton Lite coding stations, seven print conveyors and a manually fed system, all using the Wolke m600 Advanced thermal inkjet coder, into existing production lines at its Macclesfield, Cheshire site.

Harry Thomason, managing director of Travtec, based in Leigh, Lancashire, UK, speaking at Interpack, said: ‘This is probably our biggest contract to date.’

Thomason said the driving force behind the selection of the Travtec equipment has been anti-counterfeit regulations introduced into the Turkish market, and latterly French CIP13 coding requirements, which have necessitated the inclusion of 2D Datamatrix codes on pharmaceutical cartons.

The European Parliament’s approval of the Falsified Medicines Directive (FMD) in February and other moves to co-ordinate a standardised track and trace system for international markets have also underlined the appropriateness of this move. The FMD is due for publication this month, or early next, and EU member states will then have two years to adapt their equipment before it is embodied into law.

Travtec says its systems have the flexibility to be adapted for different coding requirements and can also be upgraded to cope with serialisation.

AstraZeneca needed a coding system that would integrate easily with its installed Systech vision equipment and one that had a reliable and effective pack handling system that would present each pack in the correct way. The company evaluated all available equipment and concluded that thermal inkjet was the best and most responsive technology for 2D Datamatrix requirements.

‘Travtec was able to satisfy all these criteria,’ said John Currie, project manager for UK operationa at AstraZeneca.

‘The Pharmacarton system in particular is what holds the entire coding and inspection system together and ensures all the other elements work effectively.’

Pharmacarton Lite is easily integrated into existing packaging lines without extension. It provides total control of the carton during the print and vision process to ensure the accurate and high quality printing of barcodes and 2D codes to ECC200/GS1 standards. It combines a precision multi-belt conveyor with a synchronised top hold down belt and incorporates the Wolke m600 inkjet printer and an OCR/OCV optical character verification system. A fail-to-safety reject unit with pack confirmation further guarantees the authenticity of each coded pack and helps to maintain line speeds.

Currie added: ‘From a coding perspective, this is one of the most challenging projects we have undertaken. Twelve of these 15 systems were installed in just nine months. Inevitably commercial considerations meant some decisions and changes were left to the last minute, but Travtec was totally flexible and fully responsive to our needs.’