“Inline printing is a must in a lean transformation”
How to win the challenge of smaller batch sizes and SKU proliferation in pharma? We spoke to Hapa Sales Director and Hapa Key Account Manager about this.
Based on your decades of experience in the pharmaceutical business, you often speak of a "performance uplift" that is necessary with regard to packaging processes for pharmaceuticals. What are the reasons for this?
Sales Director: At Hapa, we have spent many years studying the complex supply chain and regulatory challenges the pharmaceutical industry faces. The root of this complexity has many causes but clearly, a large proportion comes from the high numbers of product variants and small batch sizes along with a resistance to change. This reality leads to poor utilization of packaging lines, high degrees of waste and cost, and high levels of packaging material inventory.
Can you already see any consequences arising from that?
Sales Director: Most companies are already seeking to find ways to be more efficient, reduce costs, to be faster and to cut out wasteful processes. At Hapa we decided to align our purpose statement with the key goal of our pharmaceutical customers: provide technology enabling them to deliver medicines to people in need, fast and safely.
What do you currently see as the key technological challenge?
Key Account Manager: The overall industrial process in pharma is not organic. Production units are like unconnected islands, increasingly difficult to link due to a growing demand for niche products, small batch sizes, and SKUs. In such a challenging, complex world, where things change faster and faster, our mission at Hapa is to take customers to the next level of production in pharma: the zero-waste benchmark.
What is needed to achieve this benchmark?
Sales Director: This is where our latest technological innovation, the Web 4.0 5D with Vision Secure, comes into play. This is a digital technology platform that not only includes the latest cutting-edge CMYK on-demand printing technology but also smart software solutions that connect those islands of information that we talked about. The future of pharmaceutical blister customization is here, movement of materials is reduced, the addition of coding, pack artwork, and vision system set up is automated. Let's not forget that this technology can easily be used for serialization of the primary pack when that becomes a requirement.
Could you tell us a little more about how the Web 4.0 5D is supporting pharmaceutical companies in overcoming the challenges?
Key Account Manager: This solution has been designed and implemented with a clear objective: to make production leaner, faster, and more agile – every single feature meets this goal. Its intuitive HMI provides you with full-digital workflow integration, resulting in advanced flexibility. The convergence of packaging artwork, variable data, and serialized data into one lean process reduces the number of production steps and therefore reduces costs.
Is the Web 4.0 5D also capable of significantly enhancing control over the whole production process?
Key Account Manager: Yes, its modular navigation concept is workflow oriented. You'll always have clear statistics, contextual help, and assistance at hand as part of the user-centered interface. You will also be able to set user access rights using any criteria you want. Nonetheless, the Web 4.0 5D with Vision Secure is still perfectly compatible with external modules from third parties.
Let's take a look at the core competence of the Web 4.0 5D – the printing process. What makes this system so unique?
Key Account Manager: When it comes to printing, the Web 4.0 5D is just state-of-the-art. Its advanced foil tension management and web guiding systems guarantee perfect printing and accurate rewinding. The Hiflow printhead technology makes for a longer lifespan, lower ink waste, and incredible image quality. Its print module contains up to 5 color bars with optional pinning. And for specific curing necessities you can use Epicure+, our shielding gas system. For quality control, you can count on Vision Secure, our inspection system. The system features a pre-validated package comprising printing and inspection units sharing the same end-to-end PDF workflow. Technical integration of the inspection system in the workflow is made simpler, and the time spent on setup and validation is substantially reduced. Inspection encompasses the complete print image, printed data and codes, grading, and colors. On top of that, users now have a single supplier for the entire system and are therefore shielded from typical interface problems. Vision Secure controls every piece of data, every color, everything: complete security, total compliance.
What are the typical application areas and fields of use for the Web 4.0 5D? Which materials can be printed with it?
Sales Director: The Web 4.0 with Vision Secure is part of a family of machines and software products that can be used in many applications. So, whether you're producing blister packs, pouches, stick packs, sachets, flow wrap or any roll-fed packaging material, we can provide you with a solution and demonstrate we can improve efficiency, flexibility, and give a fast return on investment.
If you had to give one piece of advice to companies in the pharmaceutical industry at the end of this interview, what would it be?
Key Account Manager: We think inline printing is a must in your lean transformation: smaller batch sizes and SKU proliferation are trends that are not going to disappear any time soon. They require smart and flexible solutions.
Sales Director: It's almost 30 years since I saw my first pharmaceutical packaging line and over these years I've seen many changes – but there are also many things that have remained constant. It's very clear to me that digital technology is going to have a very significant impact on companies who wish to become leaner, faster, and more agile.