Stick Packs For A Fast And Safe Packaging Process

The market for stick pack applications in the packaging of pharmaceutical products grows steadily.  Reasons for the rising popularity are obvious: minimal material consumption, a fast and safe packaging process, and a convincing packaging system with a small footprint.

The market for stick pack applications in the packaging of pharmaceutical products grows steadily. Also in China this handy pack style is increasingly used. Reasons for the rising popularity are obvious: minimal material consumption, a fast and safe packaging process, and a convincing packaging system with a small footprint.

From sachets to stick packs

Established in 1993, Bright Future Pharmaceutical Ltd. has become Hong Kong’s largest GMP-certified (Good Manufacturing Practice) supplier of pharmaceutical products. The company now operates six fully equipped production plants and commits itself to improving people’s health by producing high-quality pharmaceutical products using state-of-the-art technology.

Until now, Bright Future marketed penicillin powder packaged in sachets (flat pouches). An increase in sales recently led to the decision to search for a packaging solution consuming less material. Stick packs proved to be a suitable option. Bosch Packaging Systems was able to offer a packaging line fulfilling all required parameters for performance as well as quality. Apart from high demands regarding pouch integrity and accurate powder dosing, it was considered crucial to ensure lean processes over the project course in order to minimize resource usage. The stick pack itself is fitted with a perforation for unambiguous and safe opening and thus ensures easy tearing as well as fast and complete emptying of the package. Bright Future now markets its penicillin as a flow-wrapped multipack containing six single stick packs.

Primary and secondary packaging from one source

The requirements for a stick pack packaging line are highly complex. Besides dosing accuracy, reliably high tightness of the primary packaging and safe interface handling are important factors. Additionally, a dependable secondary packaging needs to be ensured. The PLC-controlled system from Bosch achieves maximum reliability while having a small footprint. Both primary and secondary packaging are offered by a single supplier. Primary packaging into stick packs involves precise dosing on the ten-lane vertical Sigpack RA machine. The subsequent secondary packaging process is carried out on the horizontal Sigpack HCM flow wrapper. With an output level of 175 packages, the HCM flow wraps up to 1000 stick packs per minute.

Individually AC servo-controlled filling augers ensure the required dosing accuracy for the primary packaging operation. As the density of penicillin powder may be subject to fluctuations, individual weighing of each stick pack is indispensable. After weight checking by an in-line weighing system, dosing at the machine is regulated via an integrated tendency control. This continuous adjustment ensures a consistently accurate filling process. Following the weighing procedure, the stick packs are counted, grouped and fed towards the Sigpack HCM flow wrapper. Each sales unit packaged on the Sigpack HCM consists of two stacks with three penicillin stick packs each in a particularly flat and compact flow wrap. The new secondary packaging is produced efficiently using less material and offers easy handling to the end user.

Frank Bühler, responsible Product Manager at Bosch, emphasizes the dosing accuracy of the Sigpack RA as well as the flexibility of the Sigpack HCx machine platform, “Precise dosing is realized at high cycle speeds without product loss. As another benefit regarding sealing quality and product integrity, sealing stations with extended sealing times are available besides the rotary sealing method. Depending on customers’ needs, the Sigpack HCM is also suitable for ultrasonic sealing technology for the packaging of highly temperature-sensitive products.”

GMP-compliant design meets customer expectations 

Since its foundation Bright Future has been committed to the promotion of public health. For the company, the quality of its pharmaceutical products is of highest priority. In manufacturing, Bright Future also strictly follows GMP and GLP (Good Laboratory Practice) principles. The line’s GMP-compliant construction therefore meets a further customer demand. The cantilever design completely separates process and drive units. Additionally, an ergonomic operating height improves operator access and allows for a direct view into the packaging process. “Format changes and infeed of packaging material can be realized fast and easily,” Frank Bühler stresses. “Lifetime-lubricated components also contribute to the line’s hygienic design.”

The machine casing guarantees safety and noise protection. Below the product transport unit, the machine elements are fully visible for a facilitated line clearance. Depending on customer needs, rejected products and product waste can be collected in special lockable containers or on catch plates.

Human Machine Interface adjusted to pharmaceutical applications

The crucial operating functions such as Start, Stop and Emergency Stop are integrated on the line’s front. All other functions are accessible via a pivoting Human Machine Interface (HMI) with 12" color touchscreen. The HMI is available in two different specifications for pharmaceutical applications. In addition to the basic version used by Bright Future, a second configuration level fully complies with the requirements of 21CFR part 11. It features integrated functions such as audit trail, electronic record and RAID data protection to ensure GxP-compliant operating and data management. Connection to higher-level MES systems is also possible.

The new Bosch line enables Bright Future to package its penicillin powder using less material while increasing efficiency. Simultaneously, the easy-to-open stick packs enhance convenience for the end user. “To supply our global customer base with reliable pharmaceuticals and health products we were looking for a competent partner offering high-quality equipment. With Bosch Packaging Systems, we found such a partner,” says Dr Susanna Wan, Purchasing & Development Manager at Bright Future. She is looking forward to a successful conclusion of the project and the commissioning of the new line scheduled for summer 2012.

About Bosch Packaging Technology

The Bosch division Packaging Technology, based in Waiblingen (Germany), is one of the leading suppliers in the field of processing and packaging technology. In more than 15 countries worldwide it develops and produces complete solutions for the pharmaceutical, food and confectionery industries. The comprehensive service portfolio completes the package. The worldwide sales and service network offers local contacts. 

Bosch will be presenting this packaging system at Achema 2012 in Frankfurt from June 18 to 22.

For more information, please visit