How robots enhance the efficiency of pharmaceutical labelling

Published: 22-Apr-2024

At ACHEMA 2024 (Hall 4.1, Stand B20), HERMA will demonstrate how robotics make challenging labelling processes more reliable, more cost-efficient and faster

The specialist in packaging and product labelling will showcase the 211 HC RC, its first robotics-assisted labelling cell with wrap-around capabilities. The labelling cell is specially designed for pharmaceutical products such as small vials, pens, syringes and carpules. 

Until now, small batches of such products were labeled mostly by semi-automatic labelling machines. This required labour-intensive, manual feeding and removal of individual products, which were frequently prone to a degree of error. 

For example, the operator could mistakenly place an incorrectly labelled product in the tray containing correctly labelled products. With the 211 HC RC, operators can effortlessly streamline their workflow. 

Using an intuitive drawer system, unlabelled products can be placed directly into trays within the system, eliminating the need to open the safety cover. 

This approach not only enhances efficiencies, but also prioritises safety, ensuring smooth operations with minimal disruption. 

The robot removes the products from the tray and deposits them precisely in the labelling station, which is equipped with a HERMA 500 label applicator. 

After the labelling operation, the robot places the products under an image processing system to check that the labels and the required variable data are present. Any confirmed products are placed into the tray or cartons provided; unconfirmed products are placed into a separate tray.


A gateway to continuous production

The 211 HC RC labels approximately 20 products per minute, making it approximately 25% faster than a comparable semi-automatic labelling machine without robotic assistance. 

“By automating the entire labeling process, we can significantly reduce the risk of human error associated with manual labelling tasks,” says Gary Hopkins, the specialist responsible for robotics at HERMA. “This in turn reduces the risk of product recalls.” 

The robotic labelling cell can be programmed so that it automatically complies with certain labelling regulations and standards. This ensures that all products are always labeled in accordance with the applicable statutory provisions. 

The versatility of this labelling cell arises from its wide range of possible configurations, enabling the application of various label types and the printing of variable data such as barcodes, serial numbers and expiry dates. 

In addition, the 211 HC RC can be optionally equipped with commonly used hot-foil, thermal-transfer and laser printers. 

“In view of the growing shortage of skilled personnel and increasing labour costs, the integration of robots in machines is becoming a cost-efficient solution to maintain and boost productivity.” stresses Hopkins.

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