Accubraille Alpina To Expand Carton Markets For Medica

A new Bobst Alpina II line, the first in the UK to include an AccuBraille Braille embossing unit, is allowing Medica Packaging to unleash its latent capacity.

鎻宎ving invested in additional print capacity in the form of a Komori S40 last year, we were in a position to release the latent capacity of Medica,?says Mark Kerridge, Managing Director of Benson Group, subway surfers cheats the fast growing independent which purchased the pharmaceutical packaging plant in 2005. 鎻焗e Alpina II line, with the AccuBraille system, is a key part of our strategy for the plant to meet its targets for growth.?br />
2010 sees the deadline for all pharmaceutical packaging destined for use within the European Union to include information embossed in Braille, and Mr Kerridge believes that AccuBraille represents a quick and easy route to both compliance and customer satisfaction. 鎻til now we have embossed Braille using the conventional route, by that I mean using a diecutter with multiple dies to apply the Braille either during diecutting or as a separate run. The AccuBraille unit means we can shorten the time it takes to get cartons to our customers, and make it easier to maintain the quality of our Braille embossing, because we cut out the, often difficult, embossing makeready on the diecutter.?br />
The launch of Bobst鎶?AccuBraille unit coincided nicely with Medica鎶?need for an additional folder-gluer says Mr Kerridge. When Benson Group purchased the company, he and his team made plans for a new printing press at the plant and asked Bobst Group (UK & Ireland) Ltd, to carry out an analysis of its folder-gluer department with this investment in mind. The analysis looked at Medica鎶?existing folder-gluers, its glue and QA systems, and its peripherals, along with its internal processes and work mix. Having completed the analysis, the Bobst Group team determined that the plant needed a flexible, high-speed folder-gluer, capable of producing both straight-line and crashlock cartons, and that also needed some type of packer. The recommendation was a Bobst Alpina II line.

Nothing like it

鎻焗e launch of Bobst鎶?AccuBraille, which no other supplier could offer, was the icing on the cake,?recalls Mr Kerridge. 鎻憈 became even more obvious that an Alpina II line, with AccuBraille, and HandyPack GT packer, would be the ideal purchase for Medica.?br />
Benson Group were already familiar with the Alpina II from their Benson Box plant in Bardon, Leicestershire, their Integrated Packaging plant in Gateshead and their PDG plant in Newcastle. The Alpina II is the mainstay of gluing work at these sites and is considered a high quality asset, so when a team from Medica attended the launch of AccuBraille at an Open House event in Lausanne, Switzerland, last spring, they knew what to expect of the gluer, if not the Braille system. Now installed and commissioned, Medica has started to market the AccuBraille process to its customers.

鎻焗ere has been a lot of interest from them,?explains Peter Brassington, General Manager of Medica Packaging. 鎻 are certainly leading the way with this innovative and cost effective solution, and we are actively working through change procedures with our key customers to bring it on stream for their products.?br />
Perhaps not surprisingly, given Medica鎶?history as a specialist pharmaceutical and healthcare packaging supplier and its estimated 10% market share of that market in the UK, the company has a

long established understanding of Braille. Mark Hassall, one of the company鎶?Technical Services Managers, sits on the UK Braille forum which brings together packaging suppliers, their customers, and Braille readers, to ensure that the Braille being added to pharmaceutical cartons meets the needs of end users with regard to its technical specification, especially in the run up to 2010.

The AccuBraille unit at Medica, which can also be fitted onto Bobst Masterfold, Visionfold, Alpina II or Mistral lines, resolves a number of well known difficulties in Braille embossing using a diecutter. These include the difficulty of setting and maintaining good Braille dot embossing on a diecutter, the diecutter鎶?restriction on embossing no closer than 5mm to a cut or crease line, and the problems created in the folder-gluer feeder by blanks with Braille embossed on a diecutter.

Lee Alton, Bobst鎶?Product Manager for folder-gluers in the UK and Ireland, maintains that AccuBraille has been a revolution in applying Braille embossing to cartons. 鎻th AccuBraille on your line, makeready is very quick compared to a 鎱竔ecut & emboss?make-ready, or to the two makereadies needed if you are going to carry out the embossing as a separate run. On top of this, the rotary process is low impact, so tools last much longer, and the lower AccuBraille tools is universal, which reduces external toolmaker costs. The other advantage is that only one male embossing tool is required per job, instead of one per station, which cuts tooling costs even further. Although, if you want to shave a little extra off of the already quick makeready time, you can use an extra 鎲乤le?tool carrier and use it to make the next job ready 鎲僨f machine?while the previous job is still running.?br />
The AccuBraille module is, in essence, a highly controlled rotary embossing unit placed between the blank aligner of the folder-gluer and the pre-breaker. The male die, made up of two lines of Marburg Medium Braille text and bespoke for each drug/dosage combination, rotates in perfect synchronization with the arrival of the carton, while a 鎲塶iversal?female die provides the counter for the male.


At Medica the unit is installed in their new Bobst Alpina II 110, which is an A2 version of the model, capable of folding and gluing straight-line and crashlock cartons at 500 meters per minute. Cartons can be up to 1100mm x 800mm in size, or as small as 76mm x 60mm (or 35mm folded).

Mr Alton says that the Alpina II delivers outstanding productivity because it provides hour after hour of consistently high-quality folding and gluing, whatever the material, size and style of the product. 鎻噀spite this power and versatility, make-ready times are short, partly because 98% of the equipment stays on the machine all the time, so there is no need to be constantly assembling and disassembling rails, guides and carriers. It also has an integral blank aligning module, the AccuFold, which ensures perfect carton entry to the folding and gluing process, and cuts down on waste both during makeready and on the run.?br />
With this new, more powerful technology in place Medica have already seen an improvement in both running speeds and the time needed to make ready a number of their more difficult jobs.

Like most Bobst gluers, the Alpina II鎶?CUBE control system can easily be interfaced with all major quality control systems, such as the Leary system added to the machine at Medica. This can control Bobst鎶?unique 鎱簂ipper-ejector? which allows the removal of individual non-conforming cartons from the carton stream without slowing the machine or interrupting production. This is the first Leary system to be installed on a folder-gluer at Medica, although there are several Leary systems in other parts of the Benson Group.

The HandyPack GT packer at the end of the new line is one of many installed in the UK in the last year and allows for quick and easy hand packing of cartons. When not required on the Alpina for packing, the HandyPack GT can be used as an extended delivery, aiding productivity, or can be moved onto other machines.

Substantial investment

Medica Packaging traces its history back to the 1920’s and, famously, became part of a large pharmaceutical group, the Wellcome Foundation in 1966, although it did remain an autonomous business unit. In the late 1980’s, under the ownership of GlaxoSmithKline, Medica began a process of specialisation, moving into the production of packaging materials exclusively for the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries. In 1993 the business was taken into private ownership through a management buy-out, and began to include patient information leaflets in its portfolio as part of a strategy to offer more to its pharmaceutical clients. Medica鎶?acquisition by Benson Group in 2005 has given the company access to the investment it needed to continue to grow organically and to allow for further product extensions.

This investment has amounted to ?m so far, which has included 28,000 square feet of production space, the Alpina II line and the new Komori press, amongst other items. The Komori, a six-colour Lithrone S40, has already generated a production increase of 30%. 鎻 looked for the press with the shortest makeready speeds and the Komori is the best on the market,?explains Mr Brassington. 鎻焗e LS40 has drastically reduced changeover times with its pre-set functions, wash ups and top running speed of 16,000 sheets per hour. Our main requirement was compatibility and a highly competitive, commercially viable, machine. We considered three major manufacturers but made the decision to order a fourth Lithrone based not only on the fact that our minders are familiar with the machines, but also that Komori offers excellent service levels, good value and a commercial price. Komori is one of the strongest players in the market today.?br />
The new Komori printer and Bobst folder-gluer reflect the Benson Group philosophy share our website of constantly implementing new technology to offer its customers new share our website and improved services, open up new markets and improve productivity. The group plans to widen its current market with an increase in exports, to follow the business of the many UK companies that are moving production facilities to continental Europe. Alongside this, increased costs for its raw materials have led Medica to look at ways of becoming even more efficient and flexible in adding value to their production processes. To this end the plant has purchased a machine for applying security labels, and a pick and place system for inserting plastic windows, as well as investing in new pre-press equipment, and the latest environmentally focused fleet of distribution vehicles.

The modular design of the Bobst Alpina II at Medica, which is what allows the easy integration of the AccuBraille unit, also means that adding further functionality at a later date is easy, something that is important to the Benson Group team. 鎻檜r investment strategy is geared around constantly adapting to the market,?says Mr Kerridge. 鎻焗e way equipment like the Bobst Alpina II is designed means that we can react quickly and effectively as our customers?needs change.?br />
Paul Tye

This article originally appeared in the leading industry journal 鎻妎lding Carton Industry?

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