Erik de Jong, Sales Manager at Mundi Technology, has been working in the laser coding industry for many years now. He knows a laser inside and out. Nevertheless, he is regularly facing interesting challenges in the field of laser coding. Similarly, when he was approached by a company active in the pharmaceutical industry in Belgium.
The background Laws and regulations set high standards for product codes in the pharmaceutical industry. When a code doesn’t meet the standard, the product is not allowed to be distributed. To be sure that the codings are of the right quality, often is worked with vision systems. In the past the pharmaceutical manufacturer faced the problem that a lot of products were disapproved because of the readability of the coding.
Case Packages with plastic labels are used at one of the production lines of the pharmacist in Belgium. A coding must be placed onto these labels. For some years the manufacturer has switched to a laser coder on her Krones labeller. The advantages of laser coding match fine with the coding requirements of the manufacturer: extremely accurate, a high writing quality and extremely clean because no ink or similar is used. Once the choice is made for laser coding, a 30 watt CO2 laser is installed by a competitor of Mundi Technology.
Problem From the time the laser was installed, many codings were disapproved. As a result, production capacity was lost to a large extent. At the same time the demand for the product increased. At one time the manufacturer could not meet the market demand anymore. The pharmacist then started a process in order to optimize the filling line and to increase the efficiency of the production line.
Laser reviewed during optimization process During the optimization process the laser and vision system were reviewed as well. To the naked eye the readability of the laser coding was adequate. Yet the vision system had trouble making distinctions between certain characters. The vision system couldn’t tell the difference between, for example, a '5' and an 's'. One suspected that this was because the characters were somewhat frayed.
Second opinion The pharmacist came to Mundi Technology for a second opinion. Erik de Jong: “The question they asked me was: are the current codings of the highest possible quality? The labels in question were sent to us. Together with my colleagues, I went straight to work. I was fully confident that we could achieve a coding which meets all requirements with our laser coding equipment. We started testing in our sample lab. It soon became clear that with the FSL 20 watt fiber laser we could make a coding on the samples that is many times better than the coding that the CO2 laser realized at the pharmaceutical manufacturer. "
The moment of truth “The next step was to test the codings in combination with the vision system. We have coded a few hundred labels and sent them to the manufacturer, "Erik continues. "I knew the codings were of a good quality. However, could the codings also be read by the vision system? The test was the moment of truth! " The manufacturer tested the labels on the production line. The vision system had no trouble reading the codings. All codings on the labels were approved!
A foresighted choice The customer chose a Linx FLS 50, a 50 watt fiber laser. For the current production capacity a laser with lower power will do as well. Nevertheless, the 50 watt version was chosen with a view to the future. It is expected that in the not too distant future the capacity of the line will be further enhanced and a possible extension of the data to be coded is taken into account. “A nice challenging case. With a similarly result: an optimal facilitated, satisfied customer who can get more out of its existing production line by using the right model laser in the right configuration, "Erik concludes.
Mundi Technology has been a market leader for years and supplies high-quality devices for laser coding, checkweighing, metal detection and X-ray inspection. Our devices ensure low operational costs and a high line efficiency.