Burgopak Gears Up for Automated Manufacturing


Assemby of the PocketPak by Burgopak now will be fully automated on Bosch Sigpack machines.

Burgopak Ltd. (London) has teamed up with Brecon Pharmaceuticals (Brecon, Wales) for production of packaged blisters using the Burgopak system. Burgopak will provide a machine from Bosch Sigpack, for the first fully automated assembly of the award-winning sliding-tray design.

The machine will be delivered to Brecon, a subsidiary of AmerisourceBergen, in coming months. Line start-up is planned for the summer of 2008. Scheduled for production are over-the-counter medicines including the Pocket-Pak brand of ibuprofen and paracetamol. Burgopak’s pharmaceutical marketing partner, The Healthcare Branding Co., is already marketing the PocketPaks in the United Kingdom, which have been hand-assembled. Negotiations with brand companies for packaging on the Brecon line are in progress, says Tim Clarke, chief op­erating officer, Burgopak.

The line will support assembly of 20 million units annually. The company has distributed more than 30 million Burgopak packages to date.

“The pharmaceutical sector is a long-term project for Burgopak. But even at these early stages, we have firm interest from well-respected names in the pharmaceutical world. Bosch Sigpack and Brecon Pharmaceuticals were selected out of long lists of potential candidates among machine suppliers and packagers,” says Clarke.

The Burgopak package keeps the outer carton, blisters, and consumer safety information together during patient use. The patient pulls on a tab to release the sliding blister and patient safety information.
Clarke says patients have responded to the system’s compact design and features. On UK shelves, the PocketPak sells at a significant premium over store brands packaged in standard carton formats, with minimal advertising or marketing support.

“Research shows that when people buy a standard carton, they throw away the carton, the patient safety information, or both. From a brand perspective, the client loses the brand message on the package, while losing all safety compliance through the leaflet,” Clarke says.

PocketPak earned the 2006 Compliance Package of the Year award from the Healthcare Packaging Council and Best New OTC Package Design at the UK 2007 OTC Marketing Awards. Burgopak notes it has also won a Good Design Award in Japan and a WorldStar Award in Switzerland and has recently been nominated for the WorldStar President’s Award in 2008.

Both Burgopak and Structural Graphics (Essex, CT) have patent rights to the Burgopak mechanism. Structural Graphics is a producer of dimensional structures for promotions, packaging, and point-of-purchase pieces. In addition to a design team, the company maintains hand assembly and fulfillment operations.

The Brecon installation will assemble a minimum of 150 Burgopaks per minute. The machine will be linked with upstream equipment for delivery of blisters and downstream equipment for packaging in shelf-ready trays, shrink wrapping, and cartoning. “Our clients will have the option of supplying preformed and filled blisters for magazine loading or supplying the tabs in bulk form for packaging in a Brecon blister machine, before being fed to the machine,” Clarke says.

Bosch Sigpack is presently building the unit, with a proof-of-principle machine available at its Beringen, Switzerland, facility, says Mark Symonds, Burgopak’s global head of automation.

The cartoner can be adjusted to assemble different-sized packs, with one or two blister cards.

A polypropylene band is the heart of the system’s design and mechanical function. When the opening card is pulled, the band revolves and slides the blister card out of the pack, while still allowing the blister to conveniently slide back for further use, says Symonds.

In assembly, the band is sealed to a panel after the cardboard blank is fed into the machine. The blister card and the pull card (or a second blister) are applied adhesively to the band in subsequent steps. A patient information booklet is then fixed to the cardboard pull or the second blister.

Servo drives provide dynamic control for dispensing the cardboard blank and for controlling the heating knife for sealing two reels of film to create the band. As the cardboard runs in a linear direction through the machine, the sealing jaw is rotated in a controlled manner with the cardboard to ensure proper placement of the band, Symonds says.

A servo controlled driving wheel at a subsequent station moves the assembled band 6 mm along the length of the cardboard sleeve. This prevents the edge where the film is sealed from breaking the sliding action of the pack.

Servo and mechanical controls are used at other stations for placement, folding, and pick and place functions.

Symonds says the first machine is being fitted with a Cognex vision system and a Markem coder for variable printing, but “the machine offers complete flexibility for integrating any vision or printing solution.”

Structural Graphics’ chief operating officer Tod Riedel reports that the partners are also focusing on adding child-resistant, senior-friendly features to the Burgopak. “It is a critical path for us. Three designs are in testing, and we are confident that at least one will pass,” he says.


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