Case History: Combining Forces

Two companies collaborate on new wraparound safety labels for devices.


Ben Van Houten
Managing Editor

For sufferers from diabetes, daily monitoring of their blood sugar is arguably one of the most important elements involved in managing the disease. Because such monitoring is typically done via the delicate injection of a device into the skin, it’s essential that patients are following the device’s instructions thoroughly.

But to be followed correctly, those instructions also need to be seen. That’s why medical device manufacturer Roche (Mannheim, Germany) wanted to make certain that all the product-handling instructions on its Accu-Chek Compact glucose monitor label were clearly visible. To meet that goal, the company recently turned to MR Etikettiertechnik GmbH & Co. KG (Enger, Germany), a German subsidiary of the Multivac Group.

A Device with New Options

Roche’s Accu-Chek Compact is a blood sugar meter designed to conveniently facilitate vital blood glucose testing for those with diabetes. The system comes with a built-in 17-strip drum that is designed to remove the need to carry test strips around. The taking of blood samples for use with this product reportedly requires a smaller blood volume than the company’s previous product.

In addition, the Accu-Chek enables patients to test their blood sugar from the fingertip, palm, forearm, upper arm, thigh, or calf. The product is also designed for convenience, allowing an 8-second test time and a small, 1.5-µl sample size.

With the recent rollout of the device, Roche needed to implement a self-adhesive label that could detail product-handling instructions and ensure optimal patient safety.

A Wraparound Solution

The solution MR Etikettiertechnik offered to Roche was a wraparound labeler that would precisely install labels onto the cylindrical plastic drums of the Accu-Chek Compact. The test strips for blood glucose measuring with the Accu-Chek meter are contained within the drum. The label, according to Roche, needed to show the number of remaining tests and also serve to parameterize the meter.

Roche’s comfort level with MR Etikettiertechnik was based on the company’s 30-plus years of experience and committment to providing top labeling solutions. In addition, its diverse product range has made MR Etikettiertechnik a leading manufacturer of labeling systems worldwide.

For the Accu-Chek, MR Etikettiertechnik created a process for Roche that works by feeding the products upstream while they are placed on the mandrels of a carousel. The printing on the labels is checked by a camera system developed by Roche. It includes four high-resolution cameras that check each label before it is applied. The cameras also measure each label at a reference point within the labeling system.

Should lateral label offset occur, the label dispenser is positioned accordingly by a stepper-motor drive. If the camera system detects inferior printing quality of the bar code used for parameterizing the meter, the label will be rejected and dispensed onto an auxiliary unit. After label transfer, the labels are pressed onto the circumference using a press-on roller.

A 100% check of each drum before further processing ensures that the label is not wrinkled and that it complies with the positioning tolerances. The precisely labeled drums are then transferred to the downstream packaging machine. Any errors that might have occurred will cause a rejection of the corresponding drums before further processing.

With the development of a new control and operating concept with the Siemens S7-400 and TP 37 touch panel, MR Etikettiertechnik easily met Roche’s labeling-system requirements with satisfaction, according to both companies.

The first labeling system at Roche was implemented in 1999. For the past five years, additional systems were add ed at regular intervals, with the most recent systems commissioned in March 2003. The labeling machines currently supplied operate at 80 cycles per minute with an output of 95%.

As a result of the Accu-Chek collaboration, both companies have maintained close cooperation and will likely work together on continuous improvement and system optimization, according to a source from Multivac.

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