Versatile Bottling

An A+ Secure Packaging bottling line is customized for flexibility.
 
 
A fully integrated bottling line at A+ Secure Packaging (www.apluspak.com) is designed to handle diverse customer requirements and minimize production costs.
The first bottling line at the contract packager’s 34,000-sq-ft LaVergne, TN facility, the line features electronic sensing with reject verification and a two-camera vision inspection station for label inspection.
“The line is on-site, installed, commissioned, validated, and running as we speak,” says Ronnie Smith, president, A+ Secure Packaging.
“Our team has a lot of experience in contract bottle packaging. We took great measures in our design and layout to ensure quality, efficiency, cost-effectiveness, flexibility, and versatility,” Smith adds.
A+ Secure Packaging worked closely with Modular Packaging Systems (MPS; www.modularpackaging.com) in building the line. The Fairfield, NJ-based company provided the equipment for the entire line integrated as a turnkey solution.
The line is designed to accommodate the needs of a customer base that includes virtual companies and manufacturers of pharmaceuticals, biotech drugs, OTCs, nutraceuticals, dietary supplements, animal health, and medical device products. It flexibly handles small-batch production, with easy configuration for large-scale commercial production runs.
“Our customer base is very broad and their requirements are changing substantially. We never know what the next project will be. We went through each piece of equipment with MPS to configure a line that is easily changed over to the next product with very low product start up costs,” Smith says.
CENTRAL CONTROL
Ergonomics are optimal for quick and easy format change over. Adjustable equipment minimizes change parts. The line is configured for adding equipment when called for. A vibratory electronic filler can be switched out for a slat filler to support much higher rates of speed, Smith says.
An MPS central control system enables a single operator at a user-friendly touch screen to control the electronics of each piece of integrated equipment. “The control system coordinates machines’ speed to maximize uptime, says John Thomas, senior vice president of operations,
A+ Secure Packaging.
“The integration gives you electronic cascading of equipment. If one part of the line goes down, the system will slow down the upstream equipment, or speed up a station to accommodate “x” amount of product,” Thomas says.
Integration of electronic sensing systems with the control system enables tracking of rejected bottles via pre-set timing. Sensors are deployed at the filling, capping, and labeling stations for rejecting bad bottles and reject verification. In reject verification, sensors confirm to the control system that bad bottles are correctly rejected off the conveyor. The line shuts down if bad bottles don’t cross the reject verification sensors.
MPS supplied a raised-bed conveyor with a built-in stainless steel chase for enclosing electrical wiring and air piping through the length of the line. The set up supports easy cleaning and GMP line clearance as a three-sided, pyramid-shaped chase allows loose product or objects to drop to the floor to ease accountability.
An unscrambler from Kaps-All Packaging Systems (www.kapsall.com) automatically inverts, ionizes vacuums, cleans, and stands bottles upright on the conveyor.
MPS provided an MPS-manufactured EC-12 12-channel vibratory electronic filler, with rejection station and reject verification. The filler’s sensors are trained to look for specific tablet size and shape and to detect broken or chipped tabs and foreign product or objects.
FEWER CHANGE PARTS
“Change parts are substantially reduced with the electronic filler compared with slat fillers, which are expensive and product specific. The electronic filler is adjustable, as is most of the equipment on the rest of the line, for handling a wide array of bottles. [For instance], we can easily switch from a 60-cm³ bottle with a child-resistant cap to 500-cm³ bottle with a dispensing cap,” Smith says.
A Kaps-All Packaging fully automatic A6 6-spindle capper handles screw caps of all materials and styles from 8 mm to 12 mm. Electronic sensors at the Kaps-All reject station check for presence of cap and foil and proper cap placement, rejecting bad caps and stopping the line if the reject isn’t verified.
Properly capped bottles continue to an AutoMate Technologies’ (www.automatetech.com) AM-250 induction sealer, then on to a Kaps-All Packaging retorquer.
“Periodic torque testing is among the in process checks we will perform throughout each run, all determined and agreed upon by our customer,” says Smith.
An MPS labeling station features pressure-sensitive labeling equipment from Quadrel Labeling Systems (www.quadrel.com), with a Markem-Imaje (www.markem-imaje.com) Smart Date X40 printer for lot and expiry coding.
A two-camera Smartcam vision system from Acuity Systems (www.acuitysystem.com) inspects the labels. Bottles with inaccurate labels are rejected and reject verified. Label presence is verified either by vision inspection or UV detection.
Downstream from the labeler, A+ Secure Packaging supports varying secondary packaging configurations. Bottles can be cartoned, bundled, or packed out in direct shippers. For customers requiring the tamper evident feature, Marburg Industries (www.marburgind.com) supplies its CR600 neck bander. An Omega Design Corp. (www.omegadesign.com) SL-18 bundler is installed for shrink bundling.
“Three strategically placed reject stations with reject verification, electronic detection of broken tablets and/or foreign product during filling, and the Acuity vision system on the labeler provide our customers with a very high level of quality assurance,” Smith says.
“The custom design of this new line meets our goal of providing customers with a wide variety of cost-efficient packaging solutions,” he adds.
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