In the world of pharmaceuticals, compliance is a bigger concern than perhaps any other industry. Mistakes can have very serious consequences. It is no surprise therefore that pharmaceutical companies place such importance on ensuring their packaging complies with global and local regulatory guidelines as well as current GMP (Good Manufacturing Process) regulations.
With new regulations coming up almost every month and ever shorter lead times required to get the products into the market, it is becoming a major challenge to ensure 100% quality control and, at the same time, shorten process lead times. While their internal people understand these challenges well and learn to cope with them, external suppliers sometimes lack the understanding, processes or technologies to meet these specific requirements of the pharma industry.
K+D is a family owned business in St. Gallen Switzerland. Established in 1883, the company has been run by the Kuhn family since 1934. It develops and produces GMP compliant and counterfeit proof cartons for the pharma and cosmetics industry, using the latest technology for packaging production.
“Our commitment to the pharma industry is to meet the highest quality standards,” says owner and CEO, Stefan Kuhn. “For example, with GMP we were the first company in Europe to be certified in ISO 15378. Furthermore, we provide all the tools and services to fulfill the pharma industry’s requirements.”
To stay ahead of competition, K+D has made major investments in state-of-the art technologies. The production hall has been equipped with a manroland 708 LTTLV, the biggest 8-colour printing press in Eastern Switzerland – it comprises 8 inking units, 2 coating units and a cold foiling unit. This machine achieves in a single pass what used to be done in several consecutive passes. With an additional investment in Esko’s extended gamut print solution, Equinox, K+D can now match up to 95% Pantone colour in a single print run. However the investments did not stop at prepress and presses. According to Markus Naegeli, Head of Marketing and Sales at K+D, “The company wants to intensify the relationship with our customers. The investment in the most modern technology definitely helps us to do that and to meet their specific needs.”
With the goal of delivering an uncompromising 100% quality check of finished cartons, K+D invested in three Bobst Experfold folder-gluers with Accucheck modules. The Accucheck is an inline quality control system to inspect carton blanks for defects as they enter the folder-gluer. This optional module allows cartonmakers to 100% check their products at the high speeds today’s gluers need to run. This allows companies like K+D to service clients that have ‘zero-fault’ requirements. It inspects cartons at speeds of up to 275 meters per minute and, along with inspecting the print and the text on the blanks, it also checks for carton damage or scratches, hickeys, oil and water stains as well as print-to-cut registration precision. If a blank does not meet the quality specifications input by the operator, it is ejected from the production stream, ensuring that 100% of the cartons reaching the packing line are compliant with the client’s requirements.
“Our customers in the pharmaceutical industry need to have total accuracy and quality,” said Naegeli. “They want to have 100% controlled cartons. The combination of the Expertfold with Accucheck modules enables us to produce zero fault packaging which is crucial in this industry. Every job we produce with Accucheck we also deliver a certificate of compliance that we have checked 100% of the cartons.” And the benefits for pharmaceutical customers? They can rely on complete quality consistency of delivered cartons and save time on tedious in-house quality control processes.
But this is not all when it comes to quality. K+D has also added the left-and-right-hand Accubraille GT device to their three folder-gluers. Taking just minutes to set, Accubraille GT gives them the ability to emboss braille onto all four panels of the carton, even across the running direction. However, a high speed gluer with 100% quality control is of little use if the products cannot be efficiently packed. That is why K+D equipped its Experfold models with the Cartonpack GT end of the line packaging solution, which provides the fully automatic, intelligent packing of all types of cartons with hardly any operator intervention. It can pack up to 200,000 cartons per hour.
Shorter Lead Time
“The use of Cartonpack GT enables us to run the Expertfold at very high speed,” said Naegeli. “Therefore, we are able to cut the lead times and are more flexible to meet our customers’ needs for shorter lead times.” The request for shorter lead times was also an important aspect when K+D decided to invest in the two Expertcut 106 diecutters which were installed last December. Naegeli confirms, “We chose the Expertcut solution to reduce the set-up times in the die-cutting process.”