Checkweigher monitors filler-head performance

Because product giveaway = profit giveaway, you need to fix inefficient filling lines as soon as you can. A new option on the Versa checkweigher identifies when the filling machine produces overweight packages—as well as underweight ones—to help you keep fillers working at peak performance.

From Thermo Fisher Scientific, the Versa checkweigher—when equipped with this feature—will monitor the operation of up to 16 filling valves for liquid or viscous products: Think condiments, sauces, peanut butter, dairy foods, and personal care products like lotions, soaps and shampoos.

Alarms can be set to warn of deviations, up or down, from the ideal weight range. The system will also keep track of high consecutive rejects. All this is done in real time, so you can take necessary steps to maintain optimum accuracy throughout the production run and prevent problems. Remote monitoring is possible through Versa’s Modbus protocol.

Rick Cash, Thermo Fisher Scientific’s checkweigher product manager for product inspection, explains what’s involved in implementing this solution.


Fillers have been able to monitor and report on the accuracy of individual heads for a while now. What’s the benefit of having the checkweigher do this, instead of the filler?

Cash: This system is for fillers that do not have weighing capability. Monitoring flow is a good metric of performance but is not the same as weight.


What extra checkweigher setup is needed to connect it to the filler/filling valves?

Cash: The checkweigher needs a synchronizing pulse from the filler—every fill cycle—to identify when the leading bottle arrives at the checkweigher.


How does the checkweigher get that synchronized pulse from the filler?

Cash: The filler triggers a pulse upon the completion of a cycle and the subsequent release of the bottles, delaying the pulse until the initial container is about to reach the checkweigher.

The signal is a simple two wire D.C. logic signal sent to the data out of the checkweigher. The signal must be held high for a specified number of milliseconds prior to the arrival of the first container from each filler cycle. There is no other technology required.


What types of fillers does this work with?

Cash: Volumetric liquid or viscous product fillers. Also, those that have 16 heads or less, and a synchronizing pulse that properly identifies the leading bottle from every fill cycle.


How much does this optional feature cost?

Cash: It adds approximately 10% to 12% to the price of a checkweigher.

Source Article from

Borden Cheese redesign unifies past and present

A revitalization of the iconic brand balances the past with the present to preserve what matters while making the packaging relevant to today’s consumers.


Any way you slice, dice or shred it, a redesign for an iconic brand in the dairy or any product aisle is backed by a lot of research, brainstorming and thoughtful decision making. That’s what Dairy Farmers of America faced for a new packaging design for its Borden Cheese, a brand familiar to generations of consumers. In a look that blends the past with the present, new packaging pays homage to the 8,000 family-owned American dairy farms that make up the Borden Cheese family while resonating with consumers.

Packaging Digest interviews Flavia Panza, senior director, marketing, Borden Cheese, Dairy Farmers of America (Kansas City, KS), about this shakeup for the entire portfolio of 120 SKUs across eight lines of cheese products including shreds, chunks and slices.


When was the previous design? And why the redesign now?

Panza: Our last major redesign was introduced in 2007. The Borden logo was changed in 2011, but the packaging otherwise remained the same.  Our packaging refresh today represents just one of the many efforts to revitalize the Borden Cheese brand—a long-term project rooted deeply in consumer insights and an understanding of the needs of the dairy market.


What was the timeframe from start to finish?

Panza: We began this journey in early 2016, starting with a major design exploration that included many rounds of concepts and revisions, followed by quantitative/qualitative testing and focus groups.  The new packaging graphics began reaching store shelves this spring.


What were the basic goals? What elements were retained?

Panza: At the onset of the project, our overall goal was to understand what elements of the current packaging were considered “mandatory” from a consumer point of view. In other words, what elements had to stay in the new design? What aspects of the brand resonated most, and what were seen as less necessary or superfluous? Our research surveyed respondents on everything from overall thoughts on the current design to the messages being conveyed through the packaging, as well as what kind of information consumers look for at the point of purchase.

We learned that the current Borden Cheese logo – including the unique font and Elsie the Cow – was iconic and well known.  Additionally, the red color from our legacy packaging also signified “Borden Cheese” and represented differentiation from others in the dairy aisle. We found that consumers were drawn to the wholesome, nostalgic feel of the brand and its packaging, which presented a unique challenge in our efforts to refresh and update such an established brand.


What’s the new design hierarchy and did that change from before?

Panza: The design hierarchy essentially did not change. We did, however, apply a consistent aesthetic language across the portfolio, including placement of standard packaging elements and color cues for various flavors.

One notable change is how we communicate our farm heritage and ownership.  Our research revealed that although our outgoing package indicated these aspects, consumers did not understand them.  To that end, a farm theme is more effectively integrated into the design, without being too overt or distracting. Our hope is that consumers will be drawn to this and feel good about their purchase supporting American farm families.


What new aspects reflect changing consumer preferences?

Panza: The farm landscape reflects our dedication to the American, family-owned dairy farms that make Borden Cheese what it is today. All of our packages proudly state “Real Cheese, Real Good” to highlight the nutritional value and quality of the product.

Additionally, we have added more information to the back of the labels to share our brand story, including our rich heritage and commitment to more than 8,000 family-owned dairy farms across the United States. The back panel of many SKUs now features a farm family—actual members of our dairy cooperative that help make Borden Cheese possible.


Next: Difficult decisions, consumer tests, lesson learned, challenges and more…

Source Article from

Developing a strategy for your connected device

By 2020, patients will have six connected items, predicts Matt Jennings, president and CEO of Phillips-Medisize Corp. “Investments in connected health solutions [are] accelerating by traditional medical device companies,” he explained during a company press conference at MD&M East 2017 in New York City. In addition, “pharma dosage forms are evolving and connected devices are proliferating to drive compliance and improved outcomes.”

Many of the products in today’s biopharma pipelines will require some sort of delivery device, he added.

Given the complexities of drug-delivery devices, especially connected devices, there is a certain amount of risk. With its recent merger with Molex, Phillips-Medisize is working to reduce that risk. “Molex’s capabilities allow us to develop more-complex connected and electronics-enabled devices,” said Bill Welch, chief technology officer. The 2016 merger has resulted in a company with “global scale to support integrated design and production of complex electro-mechanical devices and enhanced capabilities related to electronics, connectors, assemblies and other novel technology,” said Jennings.

Speaking of the effort to integrate strategy, product development, and manufacturing, Welch said that “our process reduces time to market and lowers launch risk.”

“We eliminate the separation between manufacturing and development steps, which could add 6 to 12 months,” he said. “We have parallel product and manufacturing development.”

For example, as Phillips-Medisize’s product designers are “going through product development,” members of its manufacturing team “participate in design reviews and other key development checkpoints to start conceptualization and specification of production tooling and equipment,” Welch tells PMP News

And there is never a “firm hand-off,” Welch adds. “As design development ramps down, manufacturing development ramps up. And we have one program manager for a level of continuity.”

Above: Phillips-Medisize’s approach to integrated lead times.


Phillips-Medisize put the strategy to work recently for an electronics-enabled inhaler. “We brought the end price down for the customer, improved the technology, shortened the timeline, and reduced launch risk,” said Welch.

But market success with a connected device depends upon more than design and manufacturing success. It also requires identifying the role that a connected device could play in improving patient compliance and outcomes. Phillips-Medisize is working to help companies figure that out. 

“To be reimbursed on improved health outcomes, you need to be able to track improved outcomes,” said Jennings during the press conference. “How do you do so?”

Added Welch: “How can I use data and connectivity to improve patient outcomes?” he asked. “If I cannot figure that out, I probably shouldn’t add the expense of connectivity.”

Welch said that Phillips-Medisize can conduct “device strategy engagements” to help companies develop a connected health plan. He pointed to a recent project in which his team helped a customer develop a connected device for treating multiple sclerosis. “Patient engagement and comfort” were among the goals of the project. “The reason the device is larger is to help patients with dexterity issues,” and the companion app is intended to help compensate for declining memory capabilities by logging key patient injection information beyond simple date and time recording,” he told PMP News.


Source Article from

Finding better ways to ship: Why European manufacturers need better hubs

Pharmaceutical and medical device markets are growing fast. Right now the largest markets are located in the United States (about a 35% share of the world market) followed by the European big five (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom) plus China and Japan. If we fast-forward just three years, the picture looks substantially different. By 2020, we are likely to see the epicenter of global markets shifting to China, India, and other developing countries across Asia. This trend sends a clear message to today’s Europe-based manufacturers—you need to find better ways to package and ship pharmaceuticals and medical devices to Asia Pacific.

Analyzing the current challenges 

Companies responsible for the packaging and shipment of pharmaceuticals and medical devices face a variety of challenges. Broadly these fall into three categories: challenges of quality assurance, regulatory compliance, and delivery speed.

It’s impossible to overstate the challenge of quality assurance. In getting pharmaceuticals and medical devices from A to B, life sciences and healthcare companies must pay meticulous attention not just to the quality of raw materials and the manufacturing process itself, but also to the end-to-end supply chain. Goods that are sensitive to temperature change and physical shock may leave the factory in perfect condition, but might arrive at final destination only fit to be scrapped.

Also hugely important is the challenge of regulatory compliance, particularly with cross-border transports when goods are subject to multiple and often differing tranches of legislation. Patient lives and brand reputation depend on getting compliance right.

Delivery speed, the third key challenge, is becoming increasingly critical as European manufacturers seek to supply the growing markets of Asia. Achieving an ambitious production target is only a source of celebration when the pharmaceuticals or medical devices also make a lightning-fast journey halfway around the world. Pick-up times can’t be missed. Parcel sorting can’t be bungled. The entire shipment process must be tightly orchestrated, meticulously rehearsed, and competently executed every time. 

Investing in multi-million euro facilities

To answer all three of these challenges, logistics service providers are investing not just in their network development and fleet renewal but also in specialist infrastructure.

DHL, for example, has recently made multi-million euro investments in two new hubs certified for life sciences and healthcare product handling and shipment—one at Leipzig airport in Germany and the other at Brussels airport in Belgium.

These hubs will not only serve European-based pharmaceutical companies. A U.S.-based pharma company that wants to send something from its operation in Europe to another location in Europe could utilize the Leipzig hub, as could a U.S.-based pharma company wanting to send something from the United States to Europe.

Best seen at night – the Leipzig sorting center

With a €230 million expansion investment, this high-precision hub in the heart of Europe covers a surface area of two square kilometers and includes a distribution center as well as an aircraft hangar. Every sortable item that arrives at the hub travels from the bay or the apron into the hub to begin minutely detailed and carefully coordinated logistics choreography through DHL’s fully automated sorting facility (the largest in Germany).

Best seen at night—during its operational peak—this facility features four sorting belts running one on top of the other and extending a total length of over 22 kilometers. Each conveyor gear wheel meshes with the next like clockwork to guarantee that processes flow smoothly. The facility includes impressive technical features to accurately, safely, and sustainably handle in excess of 100,000 parcels and documents per hour.

Brand new, ultra-modern sorting center for Brussels

Opening in July 2017, the new Brussels hub more than triples DHL’s sorting capacity. With a total project commitment of €173 million, the company will be able to handle almost 40,000 shipments per hour (up from 12,000), ensuring each item takes the fastest possible path through the facility and onto the airplane. On average it takes just 6.5 minutes to sort a parcel. No matter which way it lies on the conveyor belt, a scanner will read its label. Whatever its shape, size and weight, it will be moved swiftly and smoothly.

Instead of bulk handling, damage is avoided by controlled unloading. A high-performance cross-belt sorting system protects each shipment by placing it in its own tray. And there is an efficient conveyor braking system to slow items down, with gentle transitions and pinpoint accuracy from the sorter to the takeaway lane.

Dealing with stricter air transport regulations

The next process step in shipping high-quality, fully compliant pharmaceuticals and medical devices as rapidly as possible is the task of aircraft loading. This introduces an additional challenge for life sciences and healthcare shippers. Stricter air transport regulations mean that each item must undergo rigorous and auditable security screening. 

To deal with this, DHL has invested in the latest real-time tomography technology (RTT). This provides a partially automated screening service—the machine examines each item and, if it detects a potential security threat, it sends a 3D image to a security agent. In addition, DHL can screen employees at its Brussels hub using x-ray technology and metal detectors that are familiar in every international airport these days. Also the company is innovating with a unique airlock concept in its sorting facility—a total of 28 automatic airlocks protect employees, assets, and shipments throughout the journey from landside to airside.

Strengthening trade from Europe to the world

Thanks to these kinds of investment in hubs and technology, Europe-based pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers are now able to strengthen their trade connections with the rest of the world, especially the growing and potentially lucrative markets of China, India, and beyond.

Andrew Mitchell is Vice President – Healthcare & Life Sciences EMEA at DHL.


Source Article from