Track and Trace: The Next Step from Vision

If you are ready for 100% label verification, track and trace may not be too much of a leap.

If you are inspecting packages and storing the results of those inspections in an event repository to track package compliance, you may be closer to a track-and-trace model than you first thought. “It is the same basis that allows you to build up for track and trace,” explains Niall Carty, vice president of marketing & business development, Crest Solutions. “It is all about feeding data up to an ERP environment.”

At Interphex 2010, Crest Solutions and Eisai Machinery USA Inc. launched a track-and-trace system designed to easily integrate into an existing pharma production and packaging line. The PharmaMarker system marks up to 450 cartons per minute with Data Matrix codes, verifies them, and then commissions verified codes on Crest Solutions’s Protrack traceability software’s database. The codes can then be shared with regulatory or ERP environments.

PharmaMarker came about pretty quickly, Carty explained to PMP News. Eisai had been looking for a partner in Europe with competence in vision and software. The two companies met in Berlin and decided to develop a solution. “Within six months, we had a product ready,” says Carty.

The strength of that solution rests in Eisai’s machine-building expertise and Crest’s engine-building expertise. Crest has equipped electronics companies with software for track-and-trace initiatives and began working with pharma companies about 10 years ago on vision inspection and line control solutions. Recently for one customer with two plants, Crest provided its LineDirector line management system for up to 6 lines.

Eisai has been providing a range of pharma packaging equipment and has built automatic inspection systems using technology from Cognex. Michael de la Montaigne, president,  Eisai Machinery USA, stated in a press release, “The PharmaMarker is an easy-to-integrate, easy-to-validate solution for tracking and tracing pharmaceutical products, thus enabling manufacturers to
immediately comply with ongoing regulations whilst improving patient safety, counteracting fraud, and creating a more secure supply chain. We are dedicating our resources and expertise in vision and machine building while working with our partner Crest Solutions.”

The PharmaMarker solution employs the high-resolution in-sight vision system technology from Cognex along with the Domino G-Series thermal ink-jet printer. PharmaMarker also utilizes Crest Solutions’s LineDirector software to manage all the peripherals on the line and Crest Solutions’s

Protrack real time traceability software to record event data for compliance with track and trace regulations. The system is available for demonstration and trials at Eisai Machinery USA’s headquarters in Allendale, NJ, and at Crest Solutions’s facilities located in Cork, Ireland.

Crest Solutions has also just announced a new in-line print verification system, the PrintInspector. It can be employed to inspect large format labels commonly used for medical devices. Crest Solutions’s CEO Frank Madden said in a release: “From our dealings with our medical device customers, we clearly understand the emphasis they place on ensuring accurate label verification. We developed PrintInspector to meet these high standards; it uses our highly accurate high-resolution vision technologies to ensure correct label inspection and verification.”

PrintInspector uses a high-resolution scanning camera with a built-in light source. Employing the drive mechanism of the printer to guide the labels under the scanning head, PrintInspector can operate at speeds of up to 300 mm per second. It can read all common 1-D bar codes, pharmacodes, and Data Matrix codes; check for missing and excess print; inspect graphics for accuracy; and detect smudges and streaks on unpopulated areas of the label.

Carty points out that a complete product safety program requires companies to ensure products are accurately labeled as well as tracked to fight against counterfeiting, diversion, and relabeling. “Product safety should be the highest priority,” he says.

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