Along with our customers and suppliers, we operate in demanding markets. It is important that we can rely on one another, which is why we cultivate trustworthy partnerships that stand the test of time – with large or small enterprises.
The Italian original equipment manufacturer IMA first integrated a Hapa flexographic foil printing system into their blister line 30 years ago – and has stayed true to Hapa. Together, over the years, we’ve made technological advances. Their current blister line includes an integrated “redcube plus.” However, a partnership centered on manual skills is still valuable in a world of digital connectivity. Throughout the same 30 years of these technological advances, the Altried Foundation’s Center for the Disabled has been realizing an important packaging task for Hapa by hand.
The durability of these steady partnerships is based on reciprocity. Learn more about these projects in this issue of the Insider.
I wish you an enjoyable read.
Chief Executive Officer, Hapa AG
To print artwork and text onto neutral blisters, IMA’s production on demand (P.O.D.) solution relies on an integrated “redcube plus.” Hapa’s digital printing module delivers sharp print results on batches of blisters as small as they come.
The integrated “redcube plus” is an essential part of the IMA P.O.D. solution, an agile and lean answer to small-batch blister production.
In the pharmaceutical industry, the demand for small-batch production continues its upward surge. The surge is driven by growth strategies, the introduction of new products, and the expansion into new markets. Producing small batch sizes, however, comes at a price. It acts as an enormous drag on asset utilization and the overall equipment effectiveness of blister lines. Additionally, the complexities of a company’s supply chains and stock keeping units (SKUs) escalate considerably, as does waste – both material and manpower. More and more companies are finding that their ability to adapt to batch-size volatility in agile and cost-effective ways is key to remaining solvent. With greater frequency, blister producers are turning to late-stage-customization solutions to produce what they want when they want it, cost-effectively and as lean as possible. The IMA P.O.D. solution, with its integrated “redcube plus” is an agile and lean answer to on demand blister production.
Production on demand starts with neutral blisters
An on demand production model begins with large runs of neutral blisters, which allows blister lines to do what they are designed to do: run uninterrupted.
It is a fact that small-batch production creates tasks: time-consuming cleaning, line clearance, and changeovers. When blister lines are allowed to run unmodified and unhindered, production is lean. The overproduction of blisters, and the risk of obsolete stock is minimized along with supply chain and SKU complexities. In turn, the use of labor and materials is optimized.
The process is simple. The neutral blisters are produced on any standard blister line, packed into cartons, and then stored. Once an order is to be run, the cartons are called off – on demand. The cartons of blisters are loaded onto the IMA P.O.D. system. In operation, the system unpacks the cartons of neutral blisters. It transports them to the “redcube plus” to customize each blister with text and graphics. The printed packs are ready immediately for an upstream cartoner and packing into customized secondary packaging and immediate shipment.
The on-demand printing and packaging of blisters works separate from but alongside production. As a late-stage-customization solution, it facilitates the most cost-effective production of small batches.
Digital printing by “redcube plus”
The IMA P.O.D. has an integrated “redcube plus” to provide connectivity and on-demand agility to its late-stage-customization solution. The Hapa digital and scalable inkjet module prints accurately and in high quality all artwork, coding, serialization, and personalization. The UV inks are cured by the integrated LED pinning station and curing unit, so the printed blisters are ready immediately for secondary packaging.
Easy for existing line personnel to operate, the “redcube plus” prints up to 4 colors using spot color or a CMYK process. It prints all text and graphics, including all variable data and any personalization. The print-head maintenance and print-head flushing are fully automated. A pinning station allows for clean, sharp printing. Designed in the Smart Factory age, the “redcube plus” integrates easily into existing digital workflow.
For over ten years, Hapa has been delivering digital systems for the postponement of blister finishing. Today, multiple solutions are available to support the most agile and economical production of small batch sizes. Our single- and multi-color UV inkjet systems are operating fully integrated or stand alone.
Hapa Services is operating two Helpdesk shifts. Four new engineers are trained and actively providing support. Recruitment to fill further technical support positions is to include a third support shift of technicians.
Hapa’s Services is expanding the number of Helpdesk shifts.
In line with Hapa’s strategy Services 2020 to improve service responsiveness and availability, the technical support team is being expanded. The new team of engineers, in training at present, acts as basic front-line support.
“Hapa has three stages of response to incoming service requests,” says André Nägeli, Head of Services. The first stage is to open a case ticket for each e-mail or telephone contact and to answer frequently asked questions. When the request calls for more specialist support or system-specific troubleshooting, it is taken to the second stage.
Most cases ticketed can be resolved at one of these two stages of support. Should a customer need third-stage support – remote service or an on-site visit – a regional supervisor is assigned to coordinate the response. The new Helpdesk team of engineers is in the process of building up their skills and knowledge base. “Trained on all Hapa systems,” says Nägeli, “the team is going on customer visits with field engineers to get hands-on experience at customer sites. Learning in this way makes sure that no one gets lost in theory. It’s important that the team is experienced in real customer situations.”
Each Hapa employee has the opportunity to stay up-to-date on technology innovations. Opening the doors on our technologies is a motivating experience.
Hapa employees are routinely trained on Hapa systems to keep their know-how up-to-date.
It is one thing to have access to brochures, technical data, or factory specifications about a Hapa system. It is another to stand before a 2-color digital printing system out of the Web 4.0 platform and be walked through its paces.
The door is opened on the flow of foil. The inking unit’s automated flushing system is explained. Here’s the way the paper-backed web-material is cooled as it travels through the LED curing unit. Most Hapa employees jump at the opportunity to train on the systems. “It’s important to see systems operating and to learn about all the different applications Hapa’s technology suits,” says Maria Sales, Technical Sales Manager, FMCG. She joined Hapa earlier this year.
Björn Rauhut, Area Sales Manager, Healthcare, conducts frequent training sessions. “Anyone can be trained on the systems. I conduct sessions with our Customer Support team. I walk them through recent changes to the digital system’s ink pump, for example, or I show them the new doctor blade used on the flexographic systems. Later, when they talk to customers, they have the know-how to communicate. The experience is motivating.”
Many pharmaceutical producers are turning to the use of taggant inks to print their packaging securely. Although they are readily available for flexographic printing systems, none have existed for use with digital printing systems – until now.
Security inks from Hapa protect against counterfeits.
Inquiries into print packaging with security inks are on the rise. One answer is the use of taggant inks. Now pharmaceutical producers with digital printing systems are voicing a demand for taggant inks that are compatible with their systems.
What taggants can do
Taggants are submicron particles or chemicals uniquely encoded. They aid the verification of a product’s authenticity. They are virtually impossible to replicate or reverse-engineer. Pharmaceutical producers are using the inks to print their packaging with the highest protection against packaging and drug fraud.
Providing the inks for use in UV-cured applications does not come without problems. For flexographic systems, the difficulty to overcome has been to producing a black ink. Black inks traditionally have carbon pigments. The carbon pigments disturb the infra-red signals necessary to cure the UV inks to harden them.
Hapa offers UV taggant inks that are being used successfully on our flexographic systems. They include a near-black from which the carbon pigments have been removed, and they address the need for the highest contrast in printing. For digital systems, the difficulty has been in producing inks compatible with inkjet print heads.
In response to customer demand for UV digital inks to be used for security printing, Hapa Ink has developed a taggant ink for CMYK applications. The proof-of-concept inks prove that it is possible to print in CMYK applications with taggants. Research and development of the inks is proceeding and includes work with varnishes. The attributes of the proof-of-concept inks are being tested further for their performance characteristics during the course of printing, as well as for long-term stability and integrity.
Every day, more than 500 ink cartridges leave Hapa’s warehouse. Behind the shipment of each cartridge lies the deft handiwork and care of members of the Altried Foundation for the disabled.
Each stage runs smoothly at the Altried Foundation. Vanessa Roth labels shipping tubes while Franz Scherzer fills them with ink cartridges.
Hapa has worked with the Altried Foundation’s Center for the Disabled for more than 30 years. The Center ensures that the ink cartridges delivered to Hapa clients are correctly labeled and packed for shipment.
The handling of the cartridges is carried out in a protected workspace. The packaging and labeling of the cartridges is a process that involves multiple stages and benefits from the manual dexterity of a devoted workforce.
The stages include the packing of the ink cartridges into shipping tubes, the sealing and labeling of the shipping tubes, and then the preparation of the tubes for shipment. At each stage, two workers trained in the 4-eyes-principle of quality control oversee the hand work to ensure an adherence to proper procedure and quality of product. Additional inspections are conducted by the supervisors.
This careful monitoring ensures the efficiency of processes while maintaining effective control. The correctness of each order’s data, the article and LOT number, and the expiration date is verified. All quality controls are documented at the end of the process stage and before the shipment of each order.
“It’s important to us,” says Maya Wüthrich, the workshop supervisor, “that our workers undertake only those tasks suitable to their skills and for which they derive pleasure.” She is pleased that the Altried Foundation can count on a continued and trusting partnership with Hapa.
Get the full story about the Altried Foundation at www.altried.ch (in German).
The companies of Coesia Group, including Hapa, are encouraged to support non-profit organizations hat specialize in social integration, scientific research, education, and human sciences.
Ling Xiao has the whole world in her hands. As a member of the Sales Support team, she connects the Hapa salesforce, agents, and project engineers to customers in Asia, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Great Britain and Ireland.
She has the whole world in her hands: Ling Xiao ties parties together to ease projects.
When asked what her typical day looks like, Ling smiles and says, “Opportunities.” She has cheek and courage, and excels at multi-tasking. Responsible for putting together the quotations that go out to her regions, she notes that each quote is unique. “Each project is unique,” she says. “Projects are getting increasingly complex, too.” Once a contract is signed, Ling steps in to tie all parties together to ease each project through the administrative processes. “Invoicing, keeping an eye on delivery dates, securing bank guarantees when necessary, and making sure the wording of each Letter of Credit is correct are some of the things I do.”
If a new system in production is printing, the Sales Support team organizes a training session. Ling says, “We’re trained on each system so that we’re familiar with how they operate. The customers need all-rounders – and that’s what we are.” The team is also involved in collecting customer samples for printing tests. “And a lot of what we do is to work with the Projects team once a system is sold,” Ling adds.
From China to Germany to Switzerland
Ling left her native Beijing in 1989 for Germany. “My mom worked for a German company, so I had connections. First I learned German in Coburg, north of Nuremberg, and then I went to Augsburg, which is close to Munich. I studied business at the Augsburg University of Applied Sciences.” Through friends from a Chinese social group, she met her future husband. It was his opportunity to work in Switzerland that brought the pair across the border. Shortly afterwards, Ling found her own employment opportunity at Hapa. Outside of a maternity break and a short period working as a Chinese-German translator, she’s been on the Sales Support team since 1999. She brings years of experience and expertise, helpful to both customer and Hapa.
Laying the groundwork
Ling ensures smooth processes by laying the administrative groundwork for the customer and for Hapa. For those customers within her regions, she journeys with each from the moment a quotation is sent out to when the final payment for a system comes in. “Of course, the complex or large orders are the most challenging, but each demands full care and attention,” she says. “One year, we had an order in India for nine systems. That kept us busy!” She adds with a smile, “Busy is good.”
CERN, in the Swiss canton of Geneva, hosts the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator.
Switzerland was chosen to host the Conseil européen pour la recherche nucléaire (CERN) as the world was emerging from the Second World War and entering the Cold War. The country had an established political neutrality, and it protected scientific research from use for military purposes. It also had an established tradition of hosting international organizations and was known for its stability.
In 2008, the world’s largest and most powerful accelerator was built underground at CERN. Guided by superconducting magnets, particles in the accelerator are propelled close to the speed of light around the 27 km long circular tunnel. The result of the collisions is then analyzed by the detectors. The information is used by physicists as they explore the universe through physics.
One of its scientists, Tim Berners-Lee, a British physicist, invented the World Wide Web in 1989 while at CERN. He wished to create a smooth way for researches to exchange information as they worked to discover the laws of the universe. Visit CERN at home.cern
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