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Purdue's packaging line process

At Purdue Pharma’s manufacturing and distribution facility in Wilson, NC, RFID is employed on one packaging line for bottles of the company’s OxyContin (oxycodone HCl controlled release) tablets.
FILED IN:  Machinery  > Labeling  > RFID

Used for the management of moderate to severe pain, OxyContin is an opioid agonist and a Schedule II controlled substance with an abuse liability similar to morphine.

Mike Celentano explained to the Brand-Protection Packaging Forum audience that the line runs 100 to 110 bottles/min. As bottles are conveyed, the RFID wraparound paper labels are applied much like any label. An in-line reader checks to make sure the RFID tag in the label is readable and that the tag matches the fixed portion of the serial number. The fixed portion of the number carries information about the drug, serving as the National Drug Code, Celentano says. The variable portion of the serial number carries unique numbering. If either portion of the serial number doesn’t check out properly, the bottle is rejected.

After labeling, OxyContin bottles are conveyed through a shrink wrapper and are wrapped in six-packs, with eight of these packs manually placed into a shipping case. The case is also RFID-labeled. As the closed case conveys downstream, a machine reads 49 total tags, one for the case, and one for each of the 48 bottles. “At this point, we’re making an association between the parent [case] and children [bottles], storing that in a database. That’s what we call our commissioning event for the bottles, as they’re being ‘born’ with a license plate,” says Celentano.

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He explained that each 1x1-in. RFID inlay consists of an antenna and a chip embedded into the back of each label. NJM/CLI ( supplied Purdue Pharma with the RFID-enabled case print-and-apply labeler, PLC software, and hardware assembly. Celentano said Purdue Pharma is using Systech ( packaging execution software, Motorola ( antenna readers and RFID tags, Impinj ( packaging line readers and reader antennas, and Zebra ( case labeling, coding, and printing equipment, with George Schmitt ( serving as the label converter.


“At this point, we’ve tagged more than two million bottles,” said Celentano. “We’re seeing performance rates of 99.983 percent in terms of tags that have performed post-packaging. One of the things I attribute that to is a good QA process at our label converter, which identifies and rejects any bad tags before we ever see them. The performance range is acceptable, but no bad tags go out the door. If an RFID tag doesn’t read properly, it goes through
a rework process so that 100 percent of the bottles go out with readable RFID tags.”

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