Primary and secondary packaging technology by Romaco in action

Full flexibility when packing effervescent tablets 

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Strips effervescent tablets Romano
Hermes Pharma packs effervescent tablets in strips of two, four or six using the Romaco Siebler strip packaging line. Image Romaco

Hermes Pharma specializes in the development and manufacture of user-friendly oral dosage forms – products that are not only effective but also easy to swallow and simple to dose, as well as tasting and smelling good. Apart from medicinal products such as cough expectorants or painkillers, the company develops dietary supplements – magnesium or vitamin preparations, for instance – which are manufactured in the form of instant drinks or orally disintegrating granules as well as lozenges and chewable or effervescent tablets.

Effervescent preparations gently packed

Packing effervescent tablets is a particular challenge because they can easily break due to their porous structure and are also highly sensitive to light, air and moisture. These tablets must therefore be transported carefully and packed absolutely tight, especially if they are classed as medicinal products. What’s more, this dosage form must not be stored unpacked in a buffer container but must be processed in-line as soon as the tablets have been compressed to protect the latter from environmental and mechanical influences.

When packing effervescent products, Hermes Pharma therefore not only focuses on maximum flexibility, reliable processes, and short changeover times but also gentle tablet handling. For the primary packaging of the effervescent tablets, either in four-side sealed strips or in plastic or aluminum tubes, the in-process transfer system, and the secondary packaging in cartons, the company trusts in the line competence of Romaco, a leading international supplier of packaging and processing technologies. It currently has several heat sealing machines, two tube filling machines, and a servo-driven transfer unit from Romaco Siebler as well as various Romaco Promatic cartoners at its site in Wolfratshausen in Bavaria.

Fragile products protected during 4-side sealed strip production

Romaco Siebler HM 1E series strip packaging machines are used to seal effervescent tablets individually in 4-side sealed sachets. The foil web is subsequently perforated and cut to size. When the fragile effervescent tablets are fed into the sealing station, they are kept in continuous motion by a feeding bow that was specially developed for this purpose and turned from a horizontal into a vertical position with virtually no stress, so that the risk of breakage or abrasion is minimized. The Romaco Siebler heat sealing machines are additionally characterized by precise temperature distribution on the sealing surfaces and only one roller frame for the sealing process. Absolutely tight sealing patterns are achieved in this manner without double seals. 

Full flexibility with Siebler FlexTrans, the servo-driven transfer solution

Hermes relies on the Siebler FlexTrans, the world’s fastest flexible transfer unit for strip packaging with up to 900 picks per minute, to transfer the sealed strips to the cartoner. A camera checks their position and assigns the strips to the robotic vacuum grippers, which then convey the product directly into the cartoner’s bucket chain. It uses the Siebler FlexTrans to transfer strips of two, four, or six tablets and has full flexibility in terms of pack sizes, strip layouts and stack heights. 

“After we purchased the FlexTrans strip packaging line, we were able to manufacture the first batch in 2012 just six weeks after the system was delivered – and the line has been working totally reliably and with only minimal maintenance ever since”, reports Ricardo Alves, Production Technology Assistant at Hermes Pharma. “It’s also worth noting that all components – from the tablet feeding system through the primary packaging to the cartoner – are Romaco-made so that all critical interfaces originate from a single supplier.” 

Rotation principle enables gentle filling of effervescent tablets in tubes

Effervescent tablets are filled carefully according to the rotation principle using the Romaco Siebler STF 120 tube filling machine Photo Romano
Effervescent tablets are filled carefully according to the rotation principle using the Romaco Siebler STF 120 tube filling machine
Photo Romano

Hermes Pharma has a Romaco Siebler STF 120 tube-filling machine for the primary packaging of fragile effervescent tablets. The machine fills them into tubes extremely carefully according to the rotation principle – they are fed lying down flat to the filling station, where they pass through fast-rotating filling tubes. The tablets are automatically erected as a result of this rotation and can then slide upright – and without any mechanical action – into the waiting tubes, which likewise rotate at high speed. The air cushions that are created by the rotation’s suction effect center the tablets and prevent them from colliding with the tube walls. The risk of breakage is consequently reduced to a minimum and even very small (as little as 16 mm in diameter), thin (no thicker than 3 mm), or soft (hardness down to 40 Newtons) effervescent tablets can be filled safely in this way. 

Romaco Siebler technology for packing fragile effervescent tablets into tubes. Image Romaco
Romaco Siebler technology for packing fragile effervescent tablets into tubes.
Image Romaco

Intermittent and continuous motion and top-load cartoners 

Hermes chose six PC 4000 (continuous motion) and P 91 (intermittent motion) series cartoners as well as two Romaco Promatic top-load multibox cartoners to take care of the secondary packaging, enabling a huge range of cartons to be processed. The two top-load cartoners, for example, allow up to ten tubes to be packed in one display carton. The tubes are picked up by a pick-and-place system, partially rotated, and then placed in two layers with the caps aligned in different directions.

The company changes over the secondary packaging machines five or six times per day. “We have a lot of different box sizes in our portfolio and the batches we manufacture are sometimes very small,” reports Daniel Schatz, manager of Production Engineering Mechanics at Hermes Pharma. “That’s why it’s a great advantage for us in day-to-day production that both the cartoners and all other Romaco machines can be retooled very easily. The majority of format changes are completely tool-free and the machines are easy to clean thanks to the GMP-compliant design.”

Cooperation over many years

Hermes Pharma began using Romaco technologies in 1983 and has continuously expanded its stock of Romaco machines ever since. The solution provider, which has its headquarters in Karlsruhe in Germany, has regularly received valuable input from Hermes Pharma in connection with new technological advances. For example, the company was involved in the design of the FlexTrans strip packaging line and the Siebler STF 120 tube-filling machine under a development collaboration arrangement. “We appreciate Romaco’s openness and the effort they put in to accommodate our needs. Romaco is a very good partner of ours,” Schatz concludes before adding, “Thanks to this close cooperation, our day-to-day production experiences directly support the development of new technologies – it’s a win-win situation for both Romaco and Hermes Pharma.”

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