Label inspection: quality starts from the finishing

The SATURN Bidi 100% quality control machine has been designed by Prati to offer maximum safety and repeatability. Thanks to its re-inspection, numbering and counting functions, it’s, moreover, increasingly appreciated in the pharmaceutical field (and not only) for verifying and certifying label quality and quantities.

«What has always made the difference and which has led many customers to choose the SATURN Bidi - affirms Chiara Prati, Prati Company CEO & CSO - is the possibility of integrating all the quality control and certification processes in a single operation. In the past, in fact, whoever used a bi-directional version of the machine was able to ensure the absence of errors due to operator corrections but, without the installation of specific inkjet heads, was unable to certify the “lead in-lead out” count or control the quality of label cutting and rewinding. Our machine, instead, integrating all these processes in a single operation, guarantees time-saving, greater safety in reel finishing (thanks to the reduction of machine and manual processing) and less material waste».

With the SATURN Bidi BKL model it’s also possible to handle delicate booklet labels with the same control, counting and cutting performance levels as those guaranteed for standard self-adhesives. The level of automation also represents a further added value.

«Collaborating with leading inspection brands, we have managed to obtain a total integration of all the inspection systems; in other words - explains Prati - the machine “sees” the video camera as its own component and not as a third-party component. We have also developed dedicated automation software, which guarantees not only total safety but also a reduction in errors attributable to human error. The operator can, therefore, start the SATURN Bidi only if the video camera is switched on and, to be sure that everything is done correctly, the machine checks whether the video camera is in inspection mode, making it possible to set the speed automatically only if the camera has already been set for that job».

Certifying quantity and cutting

SATURN Bidi is able to certify the quantity of labels thanks to the printing of sequential numbering on the liner, verified by a video camera. In addition, depending on the chosen video camera model, it’s possible to also print a report, thereby preventing any of the labels from being illegally stolen for the counterfeiting markets. Every company can therefore continuously monitor what it prints, produces, discards and rewinds.

In addition, SATURN Bidi also certifies the precision of the cutting, another fundamental step for “zero defects” production. Fast Cut, the automatic blade positioning device can, in fact, be set by the video camera which, after having acquired the data for material control, sends to Fast Cut the point in which it needs to position the blades. In this way, waste material generated by an initial erroneous setting is avoided.

But that’s not all. It’s possible to install a further video camera after the cutting station to verify that the distance between the liner and the edge of the label is constant and falls within determined levels of tolerance. This doesn’t just enable the elimination of waste, but is fundamental in the application of graduated labels, also used to dose a precise quantity of product with the syringe.

In this case, the label - becoming itself a yardstick - has to always guarantee the indicated quantity, as incorrect positioning with respect to the corresponding notch would cause incorrect administration of the drug.

The importance of perfect rewinding

To guarantee that the label is always applied at the same distance from the base, the roll has to be perfect and the labels must be positioned at a certain height from the liner edge; otherwise, they would be applied incorrectly on the vial.

This is why it’s essential to adjust the rewinding tension according to the type of material to be rewound: in the case of Clear-on-Clear labels, for example, the central part of the roll should not be too tight or hard, to avoid so-called “glue bleeding”. If the glue escapes, the label may stick to the back of the liner or (if it has been properly treated) it may move due to too much friction on the material. And when the label “slides” on the liner or twists due to uneven or excessive tension, there is the risk - despite having controlled the cutting phase - that there is no longer any correspondence with the number of labels applied to the containers.

This is why rewinding plays a crucial role in terms of the quality and repeatability of production. In this regard, SATURN Bidi is able to perfectly manage also the most delicate materials, save programmes and reload them to ensure the same performance over time, also thanks to the use of brushless motors.

Two optionals for an extra edge

Even though not required by all countries and markets, two optional accessories are worth a mention.

Purge liner. It’s an additional unwinder mounted for web path cleaning between the different work cycles. It prevents labels from previous processing being on the roll, ensuring the compliance of secondary packaging with Pharma Norm ISO 15378. By installing a sort of “empty reel”, the tail material wound on the "purge liner" reel will then be cut and discarded, thus avoiding incorrect labelling or defects in subsequent production.

Lead in Lead out. It’s a device that applies a specific length of neutral material (and not labels) at the start and end of the reel. The external loop (last turn made on the roll with neutral paper) protects the labels and prevents them from being removed; the first turn around the core serves for the correct functioning of the labelling machine, without the wastage of labels. In addition, both the first and the last turns of the material are without adhesive tape, thereby avoiding having to discard the first label.

«This is why - Chiara Prati concludes - as we are talking of quality that starts with the finishing, we can affirm that Quality IS Finishing».

Find out more information about the companies mentioned in this article and published in the Buyers' Guide - PackBook by ItaliaImballaggio

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