Locked4Kids, the award-winning child-resistant and reclosable carton for blister packs, developed by the specialized Dutch supplier Ecobliss Group and partner Romaco Promatic, will be at Pharmapack North America Booth #4039 in New York from June 9 to June 10. Its design evokes a familiar mantra to the pharmaceutical industry: to protect small children from accidental poisoning.
“It is different by its simplicity,” said Ron Linssen, Ecobliss managing director, in an email to PMP News. “It is truly the first child-resistant carton that can run on a regular cartoning machine, like Romaco, at the same speed as normal cartons.”
With Locked4Kids, you can pack as many blister strips with medicine as required, Linssen added. “The packaging is low cost as compared with other child-resistant solutions.”
Since launching the product in October 2014 in Paris and a month later in Chicago, the concept has been accepted by many pharmaceutical companies, and “quite a number of different products have already been sampled,” Linssen said. Commercial projects are expected to materialize within 12 to 18 months. The carton won the Dutch packaging award, the Zilveren Noot 2014, as well as an award at CPhI for “best innovation in packaging.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every day more than 300 children in the United States ages 0 to 19 are treated in the emergency room, and two children die, as a result of accidental poisoning.
The idea for Locked4Kids began a few years ago when the decision was made to start development of what Linssen calls the “world’s first child-resistant carton.” At Ecobliss, parent company of Locked4Kids, Linssen said they are always looking for ways to improve existing packaging and packaging processes.
“Personally, as packaging designer, I have always had a focus on child safety in packaging,” he said. “It is a fascinating and very difficult to find balance between what young children should not be able to open, while keeping easy access for seniors.”
The packaging concept was developed by Ecobliss for a broad array of pharmaceutical, chemical, and toxic products in solid, powder, or liquid form, and the cooperation with Romaco began to take form at Interpack 2014 in Dusseldorf, Germany. So far, Linssen said they have produced carton samples in many different sizes, ranging from boxes with a width of 50 to 85 millimeters and length of 120 to 200 millimeters.
Locked4Kids packaging has been designed to include blister strips with medicine. Once assembled into the carton, Linssen notes, all parts of the packaging—the carton, tray and blister strip—stay connected, even after the packaging is opened. Other products such as syringes, vials, ampules, and many other different products, such as those that are cannabis-related, can be packed into a Locked4Kids carton.
The Locked4Kids cartons contain special blister trays with small hooks on the long sides. The hooks are placed diagonally from each other so that the tray is locked securely when it is pushed right in. In order to remove the tray, both hooks have to be released simultaneously by pressing firmly and evenly on the box at the marked points with the thumb and forefinger. According to the company, it is intended to be easy for adults but impossible for children, given their smaller hands being unable to span the width of the carton to push both hooks in at once.
Also, both sides of the box are coated in tear-resistant laminate to prevent children from doing the last resort: ripping it apart.
The Romaco Promatic P91S intermittent motion cartoner packages the Locked4Kids blister trays in laminated carton boxes, outputting 80 packs a minute, according to the Locked4Kids news release. The asymmetrical hooks attached to the trays required careful feeding, and due to its unusual geometry, the trays require additional stabilization while they are being positioned in the carton boxes. The special feed tunnels show a high precise process. Once the packs are produced, the laminated carton boxes are removed and opened using Romaco’s positive carton opening system, and a vacuum is produced by low-noise Venturi nozzles.
In the United States, Ecobliss has licensed North Carolina-based Atlantic Packaging, a company that has already materialized the first commercial projects in the area of cannabis products, according to Linssen.
“Unlike in Europe, the United States has strict regulation in place for products that require child-resistant packaging,” he said. “Locked4Kids has been developed to meet the highest rating set by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission [F=1]. Besides Atlantic we are in contact with a number of pharmaceutical US-based companies that want to get a license for the production of Locked4Kids.”
The Locked4Kids booth at Pharmapack North America will feature live demonstrations and a dedicated team looking to share their passion with attendees for a simple product with easy to produce packaging that can improve child safety, Linssen said. Ecobliss marks its 20th year in business, first coming into the market when Linssen developed, together with Professor G. Wouters, a new cold-sealing technology for blister packaging.
“Development is a continuous process at Ecobliss,” he said. “We are developing and testing many different new Locked4Kids designs, for instance for dish washer tablets and cannabis-related products. Also, we are working on further optimization of the original opening method, to be even more senior friendly, whilst keeping the same level of child protection.”