MAXIMUM PROCESS RELIABILITY AND FLEXIBILITY
Sartorius Stedim Biotech GmbH relies on a thermoforming packaging machine in the MULTIVAC Clean Design™
The existing thermoforming packaging machine was at full capacity and the requirements of a new packaging line were extremely high. Automatic loading and packing of seven different syringe fi lters, short conversion times, tight pack tolerances, perfect cutting and, last but not least, reliable handling during the feeding and loading of boxes: these were just some of the challenges awaiting the MULTIVAC specialists at Sartorius.
“The current specifi cations for pack quality and cutting could no longer be met by the existing machine. It was also not possible to load all the fi lters automatically. Also the loading of the boxes via a simple fi lling station did not function properly.”
Sensitive products packaged safely
Before a new packaging solution was procured, there were many demands on MULTIVAC’s consultancy expertise. The new packaging machine had to be able to pack the various different fi lter sizes reliably and the boxes for the end-of-line packing had to be automatically fi lled. Lothar Brüggemann describes the requirements as follows: “The individual process stages had to be performed reliably – in other words, thermoforming of the PET lower web, loading of the fi lters, sealing of the Tyvek® fi lm to the thermoformed lower web, marking of the upper web by an inkjet printer, and fi nally the placing of the counted products into a box. Process reliability and quality have absolute priority for us when packing, particularly at high throughput.”
Sartorius decided on the R 535 thermoforming packaging machine in the MULTIVAC Clean Design™. Its GMP-compliant machine design enables it to be cleaned easily, while meeting the highest level of hygiene requirements. In the interests of reliable line clearance, the area for product processing is strictly separated from the area of the machine equipment. Transparent enclosures with large doors protect against environmental influences and, thanks to perfect overview of the process, they increase the security of the packaging procedure against any products being lost.
The thermoforming packaging machine, designed for high output and absolute precision, forms the core of the packaging line: the rigid film is thermoformed in the forming station, and the filters are then loaded automatically into the pack cavities. The lower web is sealed to pre-printed Tyvek®, which is then printed with batch data. The packs are cut into single packs by means of a complete cutter, and they are then placed automatically into boxes by a handling module. The space-saving H 051 stainless steel automation module was completely integrated for this purpose into the enclosure of the packaging machine. The 2-axis propulsion unit, which is equipped with dynamic linear motors, attaches its suction grippers to the packs while they are still in the complete cutter, and it then picks them up and places the complete cycle precisely into the box. In order to prevent problems with electrostatic charges and contamination of the surfaces, Sartorius uses ion rods and a system for particle suction. This is because the new packaging line is located in a cleanroom to ISO Class 8 with an adjoining low-risk area.
The MULTIVAC machine fulfils all the requirements
“Mastering the automatic loading and packing of seven different filter sizes with one machine – that is really challenging,” summarizes Lothar Brüggemann. “All our products can be packed in just two pack formats with the new machine. Thanks to two permanently installed forming dies, no conversion is required, which means that we save a lot of time when changing batches.”
Other requirements of the machine are very tight pack tolerances and a tolerance of +/- 0.1 mm for the print image. The cutting of the film also had to be designed to meet the customer’s high requirements, which included a cutting tool in the complete cutter that allowed the packs to be removed from above, as well as a cutting tool for the film skeleton trim. And as if that was not enough: the automatic feeding of the boxes together with the loading and discharge of these were tasks, requiring a great deal of project experience and a long development time. The project was successfully completed in the autumn of 2014. Lothar Brüggemann is delighted:
“The system has run absolutely reliably and without any problems since it was put into service. We are very satisfied, both with the technology and the cooperation. We will of course be working with MULTIVAC again in the future.”