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RFID Ensures a Proper Seal for Health-Care Packaging

Nelipak has released the latest version of its medical packaging sealing equipment, which employs RFID technology to ensure that the correct components are used.
By Claire Swedberg
May 25, 2018

Global health-care packaging company Nelipak provides thermo-formed packaging that has been used in the medical device and pharmaceutical industry for more than 60 years. The company also offers sealing machinery that can be utilized along with Nelipak's products to seal up a medical or drug-delivery device that is being packaged.

During the past few years, Nelipak has added RFID and other functionalities to its tray-sealing machine range, in order to provide greater control for users. This month, the company released the latest version of the system, known as the NX-B 4-station rotary—a free-standing tray and blister lid sealer that employs passive HF RFID technology to ensure that the components used in the sealing machine match the requirements for that particular package and product.

Nelipak's NX-B 4-station rotary
Nelipak, headquartered in Cranston, R.I., operates eight packaging manufacturing locations, with approximately 1,100 of its machines currently in operation by customers throughout Europe and North America. "Our core business is clean room packaging for the health-care and pharmaceutical markets," says Sean Egan, Nelipak's global marketing director. Companies that utilize Nelipak's packaging and sealing technology make products such as catheters, implantable orthopedic devices and oncology medications. Controlling the packaging of such items is imperative, the firm explains, since regulatory bodies need to see proof that each product was packed within specifications prior to sterilization, and that it is properly sealed before a patient receives it.

Each package can have its own requirements in terms of the heat, pressure and amount of time involved in the application and heating of a sealant, to ensure a proper lid seal without affecting the quality of the product inside. The company refers to these specifications as each product's "recipe." To ensure that mistakes are not made, regulatory bodies seek records of each sealing process parameters. "It's important to provide evidence to regulatory bodies about the components used" during each sealing process, says Bert Verheugen, Nelipak's VP of technical support.

When the company began planning a next generation of its sealer equipment leveraging technological improvements, Egan says, it invited input from its customers. Those customers indicated that they wanted better control of the process, in order to ensure that only authorized individuals could adjust settings or change parameters, or simply operate the equipment. It also wanted a way to ensure that the proper tooling and recipe were always used for each product and type of packaging.

Nelipak supplied a six-level password functionality to provide specific levels of access to users for its new cleanroom-compatible device, as well as RFID technology to control which toolsets were being utilized with any given recipe. A user first inputs a password to enable the machinery to proceed through the sealing process, then enters product information and selects the related recipe of time, temperature and pressure for the sealing process defined in a product's specific recipe. The machine has a built-in processor that can store up to 20 recipes at a time. The user then places the tray, lids and packaged products in the machine and activates the sealing cycle.

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