interpack 2017: Uhlmann: Packaging Fair Visitors Show Keen Interest in Digitalization

Many visitors crowded the Uhlmann stand on the first day of the packaging fair. The topic digitalization was a particular magnet.

interpack 2017 
Uhlmann: Packaging Fair Visitors Show Keen Interest in Digitalization

How is the digital future of pharma packaging to be envisaged? First answers to this question were provided by Uhlmann Pac-Systeme GmbH & Co. KG at this year’s interpack, held in Düsseldorf on May 4–10. One example gave visitors the opportunity to try out a mixed reality application, developed by Uhlmann for the exhibited Blister line BEC 700.

Anyone who put on the HoloLens smartglasses at the Uhlmann exhibition stand and viewed the separate modules of the BEC 700 – such as the tablet feeder, or the forming or sealing station – were able to view superimposed condition data. This included details such as temperature curves, humidity, parameter deviations from normal operation, and servicing information. On this basis, the overall status of the machine and any possible need for action is made visible to the operator. Also demonstrated were a video-guided changeover of a wearing part and access to a virtual desk providing all documentation of a line. Many of the interpack visitors personally experienced for the first time how digital pharma packaging of the future could look. “The application at last tangibly demonstrates the buzzword Industry 4.0 at a machine. I now realize what underlying potential there is for pharmaceutical packaging”, commented one visitor.

Higher productivity through big data 
Such condition monitoring systems are also capable of capturing large quantities of individual data, which Uhlmann can analyze with the help of algorithms. The experts have established, for instance, that the power consumption of a cartoner alters prior to a failure of the product loading chain – sufficient time is available to replace it. “The continuous monitoring of a machine and more preventive maintenance will significantly increase the productivity of Uhlmann lines in the future”, predicts Kathrin Günther, responsible for digitalization at Uhlmann. “Anonymized benchmarking for all connected Uhlmann customers would also be possible. We are only at the beginning of a development that will alter our whole sector and way of working.” Uhlmann has already found first pilot customers for digitalization projects. Discussions were also held with many other interested parties at interpack.

Virtual reality training and services app
Uhlmann presented another digital solution in the form of a virtual training application. Visitors to the packaging fair were able to carry out a format changeover on a virtual blister line. This is of interest, for example, when employees undergo training or need to refresh their skills during ongoing operation. Furthermore, the Uhlmann exhibition team demonstrated a new services app. It contains all data on the customer’s machines, gives information on latest and pending maintenance measures, and on other services provided by Uhlmann. The services contact person at Uhlmann can be contacted directly via phone, mail, or the chat function. 

BLU 400 attracts attention
In addition to digital trends, Uhlmann presented various packaging lines. These included the Blister line BEC 700, with an output of up to 700 blisters per minute, and the Bottle line IBC 150, with a format-free bottle transfer, as well as practical Track & Trace applications and camera systems for product inspection.

Visitors were particularly interested in the BLU 400, a blister machine for the packaging of syringes, ampoules, vials, cartridges, or bottles in blisters. The products are transported very carefully. However, in spite of the gentle product handling, the BLU 400 has a high output: the SyPro feeder (for syringe products), which was in action at interpack, operates at a maximum speed of 350 syringes per minute. Uhlmann presented the BLU 400 in line with a cartoner, end-of-line packaging machine, and a serialization solution. “We are progressively becoming a supplier of end-to-end solutions. This could be seen and experienced at interpack”, explains Rainer Schopp, Head of Marketing. He summed up the packaging fair positively: “We were pleased with the good interpack attendance and the interest shown by many visitors in the solutions presented by Uhlmann. Certainly, these not only offer prospects for Uhlmann, but will also generate additional development scope for our customers.”

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Uhlmann Pac-Systeme GmbH & Co. KG is a leading global systems supplier for the packaging of pharmaceutical products in blisters, bottles, and cartons. In addition to its innovative packaging lines, Uhlmann provides consultation, project management, and extensive services from a single source. The company is part of the Uhlmann Group, which generated sales amounting to EUR 374 million with its workforce of over 2,000 in the business year 2016/2017.