There were a number of requirements specified to Uhlmann Höfliger Schweiz by their customer: A highly flexible packaging line for seven different packaging units. Vials and ampoules need to be labeled, put in trays and loaded into folding cartons with different patient information. The check weigher and case packer also had to be integrated, the packaging line equipped with SCADA and PDA and the customer‘s own serialization system incorporated.
The solution, developed in close cooperation between Uhlmann Höfliger Schweiz and the specialists for customized pack aging solutions at Uhlmann in Laupheim, is a labeling machine from Excellence United partner Bausch+Ströbel, followed by a C 2155 cartoner and a case packer. That is in addition to all further elements, print and camera systems connected to the serialization system, PDA and Uhlmann SCADA for linking all components across the entire line.
close-up spoke to Roberto Zürcher, Managing Director of Uhlmann Höfliger Schweiz, Project Manager and „extended arm“ of the customer for collaboration with the specialists in Laupheim, about how the packaging line is proving itself in practice and what obstacles had to be overcome on the path to implementation.
Flexible line for flexible response to new requirements
Mr. Zürcher, some time ago your customer ordered their first in-house packaging line for injection solutions in ampoules and vials and commissioned Uhlmann for line in tegration. What were the reasons for switching to in-house packaging?
The The pharmaceutical company will continue to task various contract manufacturers with the secondary packaging of parenteral products. However, in order to respond to changed market requirements in a rapid and highly flexible way, the customer decided to return a part of production into their own value chain.
When was the ‚initial contact‘ with Uhlmann Höfliger Schweiz and what was your impression?
We first met during the evaluation of potential suppliers. As we were later told, we presented ourselves as a very competent and motivated provider. This first impression was probably an important factor in the evaluation and the foundation for our initial collaboration.
The specifications for this Uhlmann packaging line were quite something. The existing packaging, provided by various sites, could not be changed. This led to a huge variety of combinations and high level of packaging complexity. Lying, standing, individual, with booklet, with folded leaflet, products with or without trays. What are your thoughts on the development of the technical concept by the specialists in Laupheim and the path to realization?
My colleagues developed the basic technical concept quite quickly. But, as is so often the case, the devil was in the details … so we checked, changed and precisely tailored all of the packaging material that we received from the customer to the specifications and of course to the technical possibilities of the systems.
The development of specifications for many different formats was also part of this collaboration. How satisfied were you and your customer with the advice and support of the project team in Laupheim?
Well, we were thoroughly supported by the specialists surrounding Axel Arbeiter, who was responsible in Laupheim, for example in the development of new folding cartons, package inserts and plastic trays. All of us – Uhlmann Höfliger Schweiz, Uhlmann and the customer – gained the necessary expertise together to make the new products a marketable commodity. Sometimes that happened more quickly, sometimes more slowly – sometimes the packaging material went through several optimization cycles. The final result needed to be perfect after all.
Uhlmann has not only perfectly integrated all components into the packaging line, but also further developed all packaging together with the customer and made it a marketable commodity.
Roberto Zürcher, Managing Directorof Uhlmann Höfliger Schweiz and Uhlmann Project Manager
The feeder on the cartoner was a particular design challenge. First, finished trays are put into the product chain, then the ampoules or vials are lifted by a robot and placed precisely in the trays. How is this feeder designed particularly for special requirements proving itself in everyday production?
The tray feeder and the robot work very well. Of course there is potential for optimization with such a complex new development. We have rectified any faults that occur as quickly as possible in cooperation with the specialists. Ultimately, we all want our solution to be top-notch in each and every aspect.
Speaking of ‚as quickly as possible‘ – how important is on-site support by Uhlmann Höfliger Schweiz? Has this presence contributed to the decision
to employ Uhlmann?
Yes, definitely. Of course our team here in Switzerland was also very strongly integrated into the project right from the start. In addition to physical proximity, there is a further advantage that carries weight for the customer. As Switzerland is not a member of the EU, it is simply easier to be able to handle everything via a Swiss partner.
The pharmaceutical company has been working with the packaging line for a considerable time now. How satisfied are they with its performance?
Short question, short answer – very satisfied. They have confirmed to us that the packaging line runs reliably with a good OEE.
Did Uhlmann offer further services relating to the packaging line that the customer made use of?
Yes – during commissioning, we conducted training both in Laupheim and on-site. Safe operation, production preparation, fitting with packaging materials, rectifying simple faults – all that was covered in training.
In addition to the Uhlmann C 2155 cartoner, the end-of-line packaging machine and a labeling machine from Bausch+Ströbel, the other components integrated into the packaging line are a check weigher, Uhlmann SCADA and the customer‘s global serialization system. How did integration go?
Considering the complexity, very well. As with every demanding project, there were significant challenges to overcome. How-ever, thanks to the great commitment of the entire Laupheim team surrounding Axel Arbeiter, we coped with them quickly and well.
Has your customer also used Uhlmann Customer Services since commissioning the system? If yes, what services were they and how were the experiences there?
Yes, for the continuous optimization of the packaging process. The project team and our service specialists always found a good solution together with the customer within a short time. Our motto was „Together, we‘ve got it in the bag!“
Mr. Zürcher, thank you for the interview and we hope that Uhlmann Höfliger Schweiz continues to enjoy great success!