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Authentication down to tablet or capsule

Contract packager Tjoapack installs a tablet line with coding, scanning, and software capabilities that deliver traceability from pallet all the way back to the unit dose. 
FILED IN:  Machinery  > Labeling  > RFID

The pharmaceutical industry’s need for coding and identification technology that can help protect tomorrow’s medicines from counterfeiters has never been greater. So pharmaceutical contract packager Tjoapack of Emmen, the Netherlands, has come up with a tablet line whose equipment and software establish a verifiable chain of custody that associates the blister cavity with the blister pack, the blister pack with the carton, the carton with the corrugated case, and the case with the stretch-wrapped pallet.

“We’ve always felt that, as a contract packager, we need to deliver added value,” says CEO Eric Tjoa in explaining the motivation behind the installation. “And besides, legislation requiring traceability is clearly on the way.”

The integrated solution that Tjoapack came up with was added to an existing blister-pack line. By adding five camera systems, a laser printer, and two thermal-transfer label printers—along with the all-important software that ties it all together—Tjoa turned the line into what he believes is the first one capable of tracking and tracing all the way down to the tablet or capsule. This solution, notes Tjoa, complies not only with current global standards including ISO, GAMP4, and 21 CFR Part 11, but also with industry standards such as FDA or EFPIA as well as organization mandates such as Wal-Mart or U.S. Dept. of Defense.

A key partner in assembling the line was Control Pharma, part of the Domino Group ( Tjoapack and Domino now operate the line as a Centre of Excellence in Tjoapack’s facility. Key global customers are being shown the line since about June of this year.

“We believe no one before this has been able to demonstrate the ability to use track and trace codes all the way down to the level of the individual dose,” says Tony Walsh, business development manager in Domino’s Integrated Solutions Group. “Also a challenge is getting this to work at line speeds. We’re at 120 cartons per minute right now, which is quite good even if it isn’t what you would consider extremely high. We continue to work on upping our speeds.”

Unique codes on units

The business of unique coding begins at the form/fill/seal machine, which was supplied by Romaco ( Mounted on it is an ink-jet, drop-on-demand, piezo printer from TEC ( It puts a unique 2D bar code on the foil lidding material of the blister