Implementing an effective, stable and efficient track and trace system is only possible through serialization and aggregation processes which are set up right. The most common error done in track and trace projects is to ignore the aggregation together with serialization. The serialization processes which have been designed without thinking about the needs of pharmaceutical aggregations might cause all the track and trace processes to be a failure. The regulations which have been prepared by all the legislators are defining the aggregation process. However, this definition starts after the serialization obligation. For this reason, serialization is named as the 1th phase but aggregation is named as the 2nd phase in projects.
Pharmaceutical Aggregation Process
So, What is This Pharmaceutical Aggregation?
The pharmaceutical industry has been implementing aggregations in order to ease the operations of their manufactured medicines, storage, sales and delivery. The commonest pharmaceutical aggregation methods used are bundling, casing and palletizing.
When an aggregation is implemented in a right designed track and trace process, a parent-child relation must be set up, and a code related to this relation (like GS1 SSCC) has to be created. Then, this code should be applied to the bundle, the case and the palette (the carrier unit) through the label or the direct transfer method. The basic aim of this process is to reach the serialization data in the carrier unit when the code is read on the bundle, the case and the palette.
If you are planning to design a track and trace system for a product sold in great volumes, your process will be chaotic without having an aggregation system.
How to Design a Right Aggregation Process?
First of all, you need to get rid of all your prejudices before designing a right aggregation. Aggregation is not a complex process whose implementation is hard and needs a lot of investment. Probably, aggregation is a process which is already being implemented in your production lines. All you need to do is to add track and trace technologies which will create a parent-child relation into this process. These technologies may differ according to the types of the carrier unit (bundle, case, pallet etc.).
Below, we will try to explain pharmaceutical aggregation technologies according to 3 different carrier units.
- Bundle Aggregation
- Case aggregation
- Pallet Aggregation
Easy Solutions for Bundle Aggregation
The pharmaceutical cartons might be bundled through many different methods. You can use either very primitive or technological methods for bundling. The important thing here is whether there is a transparent film on the data matrix codes after the bundling process or how you implement this process (manually or automatically.)
Bundle Aggregation might be implemented in two ways.
- Manuel Bundle Aggregation
- Automatic Bundle Aggregation
Manual Bundle Aggregation
If a bundle manual is being prepared, that the process of pharmaceutical aggregation is being automatic is a meaningless choice. VISIOTT has designed many manual aggregation stations for different usage ways. If there is an overwrapping packing film, you will need a specially designed monitoring system to read the codes under it.
The average speed of manual aggregation station varies between 10 or 20 bundles. This speed is directly related to the speed of the operator. The most time consuming operation units in manual aggregation process is the label sticking and the label verification. The ergonomic design of hardwares used in these processes highly accelerates the process.Turkey has a track and trace system in which the pharmaceutical aggregation process is excellently implemented. Turkey has been preparing 50 % of the bundles in the market based on parent-child relation through VISIOTT Manual Aggregation Solutions.
Automatic Bundle Aggregation
If the bundles are being prepared automatically, we advise you to do the aggregation process through automatic bundle aggregation station not to spoil the continuity of the production process. VISIOTT has got an Automatic Bundle Aggregation Station with high efficiency. You can set up parent-child relationships by implementing Data Matrix decoding under the overwrapping packaging films through this station. The system must automatically apply labels which contain SSCC information on the bundles, the verification of the label has to be checked through special cameras and faulty bundles should be rejected.
Many Method for Case Aggregation
If the pharmaceutical aggregation is done in case levels, the process might be designed as manual, switch, semi automatic or automatic. That the case aggregation will be implemented as semi automatic or automatic is associated with the target budget or the expected operation speed.
Case Aggregation could be implemented in 4 different ways.
- Manuel Case Aggregation
- Switch Case Aggregation
- Semi-Automatic Case Aggregation
- Automatic Case Aggregation
Manual Case Aggregation
In this scenario, the cartons are placed into the case manually as to be one or more layers. When each layer is being completed, a system is decoding all the codes in the case and changing the height for the next layer. When the number of the products which will be placed into the case is completed, the label which contains SSCC information is applied manually or automatically. If you want to get more detailed information about VISIOTT Manual Case Aggregation
Switch Case Aggregation
The cartons which are in the same amount of parcels are directed to the operator through a separator mechanism connected to a serialization line. The system operates this direction through a switch mechanism. The operator places the arriving cartons into the case. Then, he sticks the label which contains SSCC information.
From the point of view of initial investment cost, this system is both cost- effective and fast. If you want to get more detailed information about VISIOTT Switch Case Aggregation, please click the link below.
Semi-Automatic Case Aggregation
In these systems, flat cases are opened and placed in the system manually by an operator. The system is placing the products into the cases automatically. 1D/2D codes in cases in every layer are decoded. Then, the other layer starts to be formed. When the number of the products into the case are completed, the label which contains SSCC information is being applied manually. If you want to get more detailed information about VISIOTT Semi-Automatic Case Aggregation, please click the link below.
Automatic Case Aggregation
These are the systems which open the cases which are kept as flat and they automatically place the products in the case. The automatic case aggregation is implemented in the automatic case packer systems. The system places the products into the case automatically. 1D/2D codes in cases in every layer are decoded. Then, the other layer starts to be formed.
The case packer systems which have currently been used do probably not have interfaces which are necessary for pharma aggregations. In this case, your system should be reprojected by the manufacturer of the case packer or its supplier to make the system in compliance with pharma aggregation. VISIOTT has always implemented successful integration operations for many popular case packers.
After the case aggregation operation is completed, the label which contains SSCC information is applied automatically. The case which has faulty labels should be rejected from the line through pneumatic separators or manually.
Cost-Effective Pallet Aggregation Methodology
After the bundle and the case aggregation are completed, the palette aggregation is being implemented in order to manage logistic processes easily. Palette aggregation collected from the data in the previous aggregation process is being automatically done. The label application of the palette which contains SSCC information might be done manually or automatically. The automatic label application to the palette is being preferred a lot since it is a big investment compared to manual label application.,
In conclusion, should the aggregation operation be analyzed right and applied in track and trace projects,
You will have assured the following
- Double check up of the data of the serialization,
- The optimization of warehouse, sale and logistic processes,
- Verifications of OEE data.
If you need a serialization process information, please visit author feed.