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That would be possible theoretically, but there are several arguments that speak against it. Romaco recommends registering the cartons starting with the good pack after they exit from the cartoner. In other words, the balancing of the batch record immediately following the secondary packaging unit is eliminated. And the assumption that it would save space to integrate the track & trace systems into the cartoner is misleading. In fact, an integrated solution would impair both accessibility and visibility. Added to that, the OCR/OCV camera systems react very sensitively to dust particles. In some cases, the carton dust that accumulates in any high speed cartoner could affect the functionality of the code reader. That’s why Romaco took a conscious decision to design the Promatic PTT as an independent track & trace machine and concentrate instead on developing fully integrated primary and secondary packaging lines.

Your new Romaco Noack Unity 500 blister line is aimed at the pharmaceutical industry. What sets the technology apart from competitors’ blister systems?

Romaco’s new Noack Unity 500 blister packaging line in monobloc design was launched in the market as a fully integrated turnkey solution. The compact design, particularly of the primary packaging unit, was a top development objective, which saves space in expensive cleanroom areas where the open product is processed. The blister packaging machine’s individual stations – such as forming, feeding, sealing, coding, perforating and die-cutting – are installed on a very small footprint for this reason. The result is a blister technology that is up among the leaders in the mid-performance class in terms of both space use and output, with a remarkable 500 blisters and 150 cartons per minute. The intuitive HMI panel, with its short learning curve, is a further advantage of the user-friendly blister line. The highly automated system concept requires no specialist expertise on the part of the machine operator; it’s self-explanatory and has an ergonomic design. This is important in that, against the background of track & trace, the level of automation increasingly makes a difference.

What other track & trace issues will be top of the list tomorrow?

My prediction is that the trend will be towards more and more automation. In the medium term, highly automated packaging processes will be the only way to integrate the track & trace idea into day-to-day production and ensure that the measures which are adopted are actually effective. As the level of automation increases, there will be fewer and fewer interfaces in the packaging process and human intervention will be reduced to a bare minimum. That’s what I consider to be ideal conditions for tracking and tracing pharmaceutical packaging seamlessly. Central data storage, reliable balancing of the Pharmacodes and data security will be other key issues on the agenda. And when all those obstacles have been overcome, the focus will shift to methods for identifying the primary packaging. Printed foil webs are already being developed today with QR codes that enable blister packs to be tracked seamlessly.