Rondo tests Primefire for pharmaceutical use

The Swiss pharmaceutical converter Rondo AG, based in Allschwil near Basel, has installed a B1 Heidelberg Primefire 106 inkjet press and is currently beta testing it for use in pharmaceutical packaging.

From left, Joachim Hoeltz, CEO Rondo AG, Philippe Andrey of Heidelberg Switzerland and Giovanni De Luca, director operations Switzerland Rondo AG with the Primefire 106.

Rondo, which will be the first company to use the Primefire in the pharmaceutical market, mainly produces secondary packaging. Joachim Hoeltz, CEO of Rondo AG, explains: “The trends in the pharmaceutical industry are heading towards ever declining runs and shorter delivery times in response to personalized medicine, increasing language and country versions and much shorter delivery times for medicines.”

Following last year’s Interpack show the company worked with one of its main customers to develop a packaging on-demand service, by automating its own workflow and optimising the ERP integration with the customer. This has saved significant costs in administration as well as helping the customer reduce costs in storing the packaging or having to destroy obsolete packaging. The shorter packaging delivery times also help the customer to reduce its own delivery times for its medicines, leading to more sales. Rondo estimates that altogether this on-demand model can save the customer up to 50 percent of the total supply chain costs.

Up to now the packaging has been produced on a conventional press, a Speedmaster XL 105 ten-color perfecting press with coating unit.However, as Hans-Peter Süßlack, business process manager at Rondo, notes: “Offset printing has its limits when it comes to the personalization and run lengths of just one pack. That’s why we took a serious look at digital printing. We tested quite a few systems in the past four years. We saw the Primefire 106 at drupa 2016 and opted for this machine after various tests.”

A major advantage of a digital solution is the ability to add variable data such as serial numbers while the packaging is being printed, essential in complying with the track and trace regulations under the EU Counterfeiting Directive. Rondo is thus developing a project to use the Primefire to print custom serial numbers in order to prevent counterfeit medicines, which should be ready by next year.

For now, the Primefire is installed next to the Speedmaster, with the inkjet used for short run and the offset press for longer run jobs. Giovanni De Luca, director of operations for Switzerland at Rondo, says: “Heidelberg’s extensive colour expertise ensures that end customers cannot see any difference – a must in the pharmaceutical industry.”

Apart from the Swiss facility, Rondo also has plants in the Czech Republic, the USA and Puerto Rico, employing some 600 people and producing over two billion folding cartons and package inserts every year. Rondo is part of Medipak Systems, the pharmaceutical systems division of the international technology group Körber.





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