Marking, Coding and Serialization

The days of embossing are numbered

Why variable data printing with UV DOD technology is the future-proof method for the marking, coding and serialization of blister packs

It’s a surprising fact, that in a world where the benefits of digital transformation are obvious to all, most marking, coding and serialization of blister packs for pharmaceuticals is still done via mechanical embossing technology. At the same time, however, this outdated technology is one of the major causes for production line stoppages. The result is a dramatically reduced OEE, more waste, and sometimes even delivery shortages. In certain countries, the inherent disadvantages of the embossing technology resulting in poor marking quality are already a thorn in the side of legislators. Sometimes, their concerns lead to legal restrictions of this technology. 

Equipping new blister lines with future-proof and cost-efficient inline printing technology for coding, marking, serialization, and any other form of variable data printing is therefore the order of the day. This also applies where existing blister packaging lines are being retrofitted.

Criteria to consider when making an equipment investment decision include overall production safety, high reliability in the printing and verification process, cost efficiency, upgrade capabilities for future challenges, and a technology’s compelling track record for use in the pharmaceutical sector.

More and more, UV DOD printing technology is proving to be the most efficient and safest method for this task. As a technology and market leader, Hapa has now installed nearly two thousand such systems worldwide. Simple OEM integration, full SCADA compatibility and the high reliability, which is completely independent of the speed of the blister machine, were important prerequisites for the success story of this technology.

Enormous benefits

Compared to physical embossing, the benefits of UV DOD technology are enormous. The automated workflow enables the digital transformation to be finally pushed in this field. Moreover, because the order data comes directly from the ERP system, human errors are virtually eliminated. In many cases, the operator of a production line equipped with a Hapa printing system simply accepts the job that has been sent to the line via the SCADA, MES or ERP system. A final push of the start button then launches production immediately. Time-consuming and error-prone mechanical changeover is a thing of the past.

The resulting razor-sharp print enhances camera readability and helps minimize waste. Hapa technology is able to serialize on all parts of the blister foil, supporting all standard symbologies and barcodes. Furthermore, UV DOD printing is readable by humans and electronic systems alike, thus improving patient safety.

Further efficiencies can be gained by removing complexity from the graphics chain.  Ensuring a simple upgrade path from marking and coding to full artwork printing is an important consideration for pharmaceutical manufacturers at the point of capital investment. In this way, they can further reduce cost-intensive inventory of pre-printed films as well as complexity of the supply chain and respond better to demand volatility.

Immediately ready for the next inline process

Since UV DOD printing is completely solvent-free, and its UV-cured ink is immediately ready for the next inline process, it is resistant to the downstream packaging process, especially with regard to rotary sealing. 

"It is therefore no wonder that more and more pharmaceutical manufacturers worldwide are installing systems with UV DOD technology for inline printing of blisters," explains an experienced product manager from Hapa. "Likewise, system integrators and blister packaging line project managers are also increasingly relying on this technology from the outset. They all understood by now: The days of embossing are numbered. The future belongs to variable data printing.”

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