Europe’s corrugated box plants and converters could be overlooking some very promising potential opportunities within the burgeoning pharmaceutical sector, according to SUN Automation Group, one of the leaders in the global corrugated sector.
Pharmaceutical packaging needs to meet increasingly stringent global regulatory requirements for the safe handling and distribution of drugs, and it has also had to conform to the increasing environmental concerns over the impact of material choice and sustainability. With or without cooling packs or other refrigerated add-ons, corrugated is already one of the pharma sector’s favoured packaging solutions.
According to the European Commission, the EU pharmaceutical industry is economically significant, producing an output of €220 billion and employing approximately 800,000 people in 2012. The EU was the world’s major trader in medicinal and pharmaceutical products in 2013, with total trade amounting to €156.9 billion (EU28) and the value of exports reaching more than €107.4 billion.
According to Rob Dal Lago, SUN Automation’s general manager, box plants and converters can make the most of opportunities in the sector by ensuring their own production lines are operating to maximum efficiency. “Global spending on medicines is expected to grow to nearly $1.2 trillion by 2017 and that is expected to continue growing thanks to steady demand and price point reliability – even in economic downturns.
“Corrugated is already a favourite of many of the pharma giants and its sustainability credentials give it a head start over other packaging solutions, but box plants need to ensure they can make the grade not just in reduced waste but also market leading standards of production. This is where SUN Automation’s retrofitted technology such as MicroGrind or AccuPrint come in – a relatively small investment to help plants compete effectively in core target markets.”
The MicroGrind die cut accuracy system provides a big advantage for box plants that need accurate and consistent crease, score, and perforation in order to facilitate fault free auto-fill and shelf presentation in corrugated packaging. Meanwhile, compared to conventional flexographic printing systems, AccuPrint can achieve up to 85 per cent savings on recovered ink prior to colour changeover, alongside a 50 per cent reduction in set-up time.
MicroGrind is available as an upgrade for existing machines, as well as for almost all new machine models in the market. It uses a tungsten carbide roll to grind the anvil flat and true, allowing the surface to be treated in micro amounts automatically with precision, without operator intervention. By utilising a full-width grinding roll engaged systematically against the entire anvil surface, and then adjusting the anvil speed, box makers can significantly advance the quality and productivity of their rotary die cutting machines.
Complimenting the benefits of Microgrind, AccuPrint reduces the water required for wash-up by up to 50 per cent, bringing multiple benefits of lower utility bills, reduced waste and saving resources. In addition, downtime is reduced through clever design features such as tool-less blade and end seal change, resulting in quicker and easier maintenance. The system is able to be adapted to virtually every type of OEM machine and demonstrates significant improvements for users of two-roll systems in particular.