In June 2008, PMP News held the second installment in its exclusive Webcast series, Reducing Risk through Packaging, titled “Developing Child-Resistant, Senior-Friendly Compliance Packaging.”
To address some of the technical questions posed during the event, the speakers will be addressing them in this and upcoming columns. If you think of another question, please feel free to submit it to PMP News Editor Daphne Allen.
How difficult is it to automate an existing manual operation?
Answered by Richard Bahr, President and CEO, MGS Machine Corp.:
Naturally, it depends on each operation being performed. Frequently, we have been successful in automating what was earlier done by hand. It is critical to have a handle on the volume required, length of contract, and speeds required to justify the payback. With enough capital, most manual processes can be automated, but one must be sensible. Sometimes, partial automation makes sense, such as closing and gluing the end of a compliance package and then inserting the blister cards manually.
Answered by Daryl Madeira, Director of Marketing, Alcan Packaging–Contract Packaging and Specialty Cartons:
Automation of child-resistant package production requires success in process qualification (PQ; also referred to as performance qualification). This step involves qualification of each application within the design platform for a given piece of equipment and process for each child-resistant package design. Man, machine, and package design must come together in perfect harmony. Additionally, all elements of the design must be preserved and tested—child-resistant features, patient information literature and booklets, lot and expiry date verification, etc.—all must be proven to be reliably maintained during automation.
If you attach new equipment to existing line, you have to repeat PQ on the overall line, because the entire process has been affected.
Do not let the novel or entrepreneurial nature of the design lead you to cut corners. The best course of action is to follow good engineering protocols. At Alcan Packaging, we characterize good engineering protocols as following Six Sigma principles. One can use process data to define, measure, analyze, interpret, and control the outcome of that process. Choose partners that demonstrate a culture of Six Sigma.
Answered by Paul Glintenkamp, Director of Pharmaceutical Packaging, Carton Service–Packaging Insights
One of our key targets for customers is looking at the cost of automation. In one project we handled on a contract packaging basis we moved the product from heat-seal board to use of hot-glue on SBS board because it was more cost effective. In determining the projects costs, you want to look at the product’s future on the market.