Product Focus: Packaging Systems

Top suppliers of pharmaceutical packaging systems are designing equipment to meet the specific needs prioritized by the modern day pharmaceutical industry.

By Karen Langhauser, Chief Content Director

As pharmaceutical industry trends and demands change, packaging equipment suppliers are rising to the challenge. Today’s suppliers are no longer simply manufacturing equipment - they are involved in the details of the production process.

Pharmaceutical Manufacturing asked top suppliers of pharmaceutical packaging systems what needs are being prioritized by their pharmaceutical industry customers, and how today’s packaging equipment is designed to meet these needs.

RISE OF BIOLOGICS

The rising popularity of new biological drug formulations is creating unique packaging challenges and equipment demands. Michele Leonardi, sales manager for the packaging division for MG America, specifically notes a marked uptick in requests for syringe packaging solutions. In order to maintain product integrity and sterility, equipment designed to package syringes must take into account the precision and careful handling that is needed.

Many of these biologics are in the form of targeted therapies and personalized medicines, thus driving drug manufacturers to produce meds more efficiently and in smaller quantities. “This places an imperative on the pharmaceutical packaging manufacturers to develop a more flexible and scalable approach to the packaging needs of the industry,” says Victor Dixon, president & COO, Rondo-Pak.

Maruho Hatsujyo Innovations echoes this sentiment with their observations about trends in thermoform packaging. As production runs and batch sizes become smaller, drug manufacturers and contract packagers may no longer require large, high speed machines. “They now need compact thermoformers that can quickly switch-over to the next batch or product,” says MHI. This means equipment features such as fast, tool-free changeover are important.

LESS WASTE, MORE EFFICIENCY

As pharma continues this trend toward smaller product runs, packaging equipment manufacturers are seeing a growing need for tightened print quality control and assurance. “Packagers are looking not only for streamlined setup time, but also machinery solutions that reduce material waste and simplify the process of identifying defects. This is especially true with product labels which, in the pharma industry, obviously carry elevated importance as it becomes a consumer safety issue,” notes Peter Goff, CEO of HERMA U.S.

Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) is finding increasing acceptance in the pharma industry as drug manufacturers seek out ways to run plants at higher levels of capacity utilization and save cash. Thus, equipment that offers features that help reduce downtime and enhance operating efficiencies are being prioritized in the buying process.

SERIALIZATION AND AGGREGATION
As the pharma industry continues to focus on the DSCSA serialization deadlines and global serialization demands, they are adjusting their equipment needs accordingly. Chris Siegele, serialization specialist for Omega Design, notes “the continuing need for equipment that can satisfy pending serialization mandates without being too burdensome to integrate into existing packaging lines.”

“Despite the fact that the enforcement on the DSCSA has been postponed a year, that’s not enough time for pharma companies who weren’t ready to breathe a sigh of relief, so that search continues for solutions that meet government requirements without significantly impacting downtime, line speed, etc.,” continues Siegele. This means that suppliers like Omega are looking to meet increased calls for equipment that can address several needs at once in a small footprint. Additionally, Omega points to the growing need for equipment that offers the ability to seamlessly integrate layered aggregation technology.

Aggregation - the process of building a relationship between unique identifiers assigned to packaging containers - enables a drug manufacturer to simply scan a barcode on a sealed case and then use the aggregation relationship to identify the contents.

Modern day pharma manufacturing is evolving, and without a doubt, packaging  systems suppliers are playing key roles in this evolution.

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