In the pharmaceutical industry, label identification is typically achieved by identifying a pharma code (an industry-standard 2D barcode). There is a range of pharma code readers on the market from those that are referred to as ‘read and decode’ which ensure the information correlates exactly to what it should be, through to simpler ‘show and go’ readers which don’t go as far as decoding the barcode but instead confirm the pattern of the pharma code matches.
The pharmaceutical industry requires different information to be applied to a label, whether it’s a batch code and expiry date or a different identification for each and every individual label. Whilst the labels themselves are printed separately (there is an option to have integrated label printing, but this is a higher cost and hasn’t had much traction in the industry), a printing device will be required to add coding and overprint information to each label.
Just as we need to confirm the label being applied is correct, we also need to confirm the container it is being applied to is the correct one. For example, this could be the identification of a specific color container lid or even a small colored ring on top of an ampoule. The different colors could indicate different strengths of the same drug, so it’s vital the colors are correctly identified. This will require the addition of a color scanning unit on the infeed of the labeling machine. With tableting lines, the same can often be achieved by reading a 2D matrix code on the base of the bottle.
When a missing or faulty label has been identified, it needs to be positively rejected and removed from the production line, often at speed. Manufacturers have approached this in different ways. Many have designed their reject systems to remove the label from the web and place it on to a mandrel, but the problem with this is that the rejected labels are placed one on top of the other which makes it impossible to then carry out batch reconciliation. At Newman, we approached this differently with our Faulty Label Removal (FLR) System.
In the event of missing or ‘bad’ overprint information, bar code or 2D matrix code, the FLR System will securely remove the faulty label from the label web prior to application onto the container. These faulty labels are then transferred to a paper roll for batch reconciliation and inspection. It’s fast and efficient. A missing label on one single container could lead to a total batch product recall. An accessory to identify if the label is on the container following the labeling process is therefore important. The industry standard is to look for luminescence in the label using a UV sensor, although Vision Systems can perform the same task using a different method. It is then common practice to reject containers and/or stop the labeling system in the event that the container itself is out of specification, a faulty label is fitted or no label has been applied.
Not all labeling system manufacturers have the experience or skill set to help select and integrate these types of accessories. Newman Labelling Systems has extensive experience here. For example, we have been incorporating Vision Systems into our labeling machine for more than 25 years so we fully understand the strengths and weaknesses of these types of systems. Such manufacturers not only provide quality labelling systems, but also an added value service by recommending suitable accessories to meet needs and budget, whilst steering you clear of those that do not.
As mentioned here, the key benefits of the Faulty Label Removal System are:
- Detection and removal of missprinted labels before they are applied to the product
- No product loss due to bad labels
- No container rejected due to faulty labels
- No need to stop the labeling system if a label out of specification
- No need to stop the line if a faulty label is fitted or no label has been applied
- Can work with both pre-printed labels and with on-reel label printers
- Eliminates risks of total batch product recall due to faulty labels
To learn more about the FLR system that is a step ahead of the common practice of rejecting containers or stoping the labeling system in the event that the container itself is out of specification, a faulty label is fitted or no label has been applied, please get in touch with our product experts by filling out this contact form.