As the Finnish market leader in human and veterinary medicine, Orion Group develops, produces and markets active pharmaceutical ingredients. For this reason, EMA regulation EMA/587673/2019, which is set to come into force in late 2023, is also relevant to Orion. In order to achieve greater patient protection, the successful cancer drug Methotrexate Orion is to be offered not only in bottles of 100 tablets, but also in smaller units. The child-resistant blisters containing four, ten or twelve tablets will benefit, for example, patients with psoriasis or rheumatoid arthritis which are prescribed Methotrexate Orion at a lower dose. In addition to the regulatory requirements, Orion also needed increased capacity in terms of pharma packaging to cope with the increasing demand for Methotrexate.

High standards of quality, safety, efficiency and partnership

In its search for a suitable partner, Orion focused on its strategic priorities. “For us, high quality, product safety and compliance are paramount. To be able to meet these demands, we need partner companies that operate at the same high level of efficiency, reliability and excellence as we do – and which can supply the appropriate equipment,” explains Orion project manager, Juha-Pekka Koskela. “With Uhlmann, we have found such a partner.”

Decision to opt for a proven partner

The company has been working with Uhlmann since the early 2000s and Orion was also familiar with the planned BEC 300 blister line, as it already had two identical systems. “We have had very good experiences with Uhlmann on past projects and we knew that we wouldn’t have to worry about anything. I was sure that the cooperation would work even if face-to-face meetings were not possible due to travel restrictions,” Koskela says.

From standard blister machine to tailor-made line concept

The BEC 300 is a compact combination of a blister and cartoning module. Its strength lies in its quick changeover times from one product to the next of less than 30 minutes. This makes it possible to pack small and medium batches economically on a single line. With the BEC 300 at its core, Uhlmann implemented a complete line concept from blister machine to palletizer. The entire line is operated via uniform HMI control unit touch screens. Together with Orion, Uhlmann also designed a containment filling line with negative pressure to protect the operators from the active ingredient. Added to this was the integration of the “Track & Trace” system used at Orion, as well as a cover foil printer which, due to its size of 1.5 by 1.5 metres, had to be placed next to the line rather than on it.

Partnership at eye level

In December 2021, Uhlmann packed up the entire line for transportation to Turku, Finland. There, the installation is to be completed by March 2022 and commissioning is scheduled to start in March. “We are very pleased with the way the project is going. The close cooperation, the proven line and the expert implementation of our requirements present an excellent overall package,” concludes Koskela. Uhlmann is also very satisfied with the situation. “The cooperation between Orion and Uhlmann is to both companies’ benefit," emphasizes Marcus Lagestrand, Sales Manager at Uhlmann and main contact person for Juha-Pekka Koskela. “That's because we're not just connected by a supplier relationship, but by a trusting partnership of equals.”