It’s a familiar fact: pharmaceutical production is becoming less efficient, meaning that it often has to be done in small batches. The reasons are country-specific packaging and local legislation: the language of the package insert and labelling, use of vignettes, etc. Then there are always situations where the filling is waiting for the packaging line, and vice versa. As a result, it isn’t cost-effective at all. Janssen Pharmaceutica in Beerse also struggled with this problem.
How did you solve this problem?
Eric Kooremans, Sr. Manager Project Management Janssen Supply Chain: “We wanted to switch to more efficient production by making ‘brite stock’. In this way, we can uncouple production from final packaging. The idea is relatively simple and certainly not new. The drugs are produced as a full batch of active product and packaged in primary packaging (e.g. in a blank bottle). Only afterwards do they get their country-specific label, printing and box, for which the numbers can be significantly smaller. The implementation is rather complex. In practice, this means that you create two lines. And then you need more operators – we thought.”
Unless it can all be done automatically…
Eric: “Indeed. We needed a partner with experience in this type of combinations of production and internal logistics. An automation specialist who could deliver guaranteed quality and afterwards still provide the necessary support. We found that partner in intrion.”
How did the collaboration go?
Eric: “intrion supported us fully in jointly elaborating a solution. The team came up with ideas that really helped us move forwards, without unnecessary frills. Also, we found the fact that intrion is an independent system integrator to be another significant advantage. The robots and other automation modules were individually selected and designed for our project. We really felt we were on the same page and encountered a great willingness to listen.”
What was achieved in concrete terms?
Eric: “The solution was to install a new loading cell for filling trays with bottles. This is connected to the filling line. A 4-axis robot picks up these trays and places them. All of the bottle references can be stored in it. The robot cell has an automatic input and output of pallets stacked with empty trays and pallets stacked with full trays respectively. A second robot cell in another department then unloads this ‘white stock’ to the packaging line. Pallets stacked with full trays are brought into the cell automatically through a safety light curtain with muting. Here too, a robot performs the handling of the full and empty trays. The fact that we use UV ink to be able to identify the brite stock at all times also makes everything qualitatively conclusive.”
Are you satisfied with the result?
Eric: “Most definitely. intrion has really pulled out all the stops for this whole project. The team also had an eye for a lot of practical matters. For example, we developed the trays together. And in the design of the safety cages, maximum attention was given to the limited installation space, and above all the safe intake of the robots. intrion thinks ahead, and that’s something we appreciate here at Janssen!”
Want to know what intrion can do for you? Contact us!
Janssen Pharmaceutica in Belgium includes the entire pharmaceutical cycle from the early days of the discovery and development of a new molecule in Research & Development to the chemical and pharmaceutical production (Supply Chain), distribution and commercial and support services.
Janssen chooses to develop treatments for some of the most devastating disorders and complex medical challenges of our time, including diabetes, hepatitis, HIV, cancer, arthritis, dementia and mental disorders. Janssen Pharmaceutica in Belgium is part of the worldwide organisation Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson.