According to Britepak’s MD, John Latter, keeping up to date with industry demands and regulations is a given and, if necessary, investments are made to meet customer requirements.
In 2005, European Directive 2004/27/EC was promulgated, requiring all pharmaceutical packaging to display the name and strength of medicinal products in Braille format. As a long-time supplier to EU territories, Britepak’s management team had to identify the most efficient tooling to emboss Braille into cartons destined for European customers.
Following months of intensive research, including a fact-finding mission to Bobst in Switzerland, Britepak’s gluing manager, Kuben Pillay, and prepress manager, Dominic Nugent, identified a Bobst Expert Fold 80 high-speed folder-gluer, complete with a five-line AccuBraille rotary embossing module, as the ideal solution; and this piece of equipment – the first of its kind in Africa – now occupies a considerable stretch of Britepak’s factory in Spartan, Gauteng.
John Latter explains why this was his team’s preferred choice. ‘Purchasing the Bobst technology was an educated exercise carried out in collaboration with our customers and Bobst local representative, Beswick Machinery. Customer expectations and European-standards are high and we needed a cost-effective solution that could maintain high-speed production coupled with consistent-quality European-standard Braille embossing,’ John says. ‘The Expert Fold 80 with AccuBraille provides super-quick makeready, accurate feed assisting registration and a high-speed solution. Overall, peace of mind for us and for our customers was the ultimate goal and I believe we’ve achieved it. We’re now on a campaign to promote the availability of AccuBraille to our customers and the industry at large,’ he adds.
During their trip to Bobst, Kuben and Dominic gained thorough AccuBraille training and met with global Braille experts to ensure all standards and line parameters were understood. ‘Our benchmarks at Britepak are always high, so we made certain that we knew everything about the new equipment before it came to South Africa,’ confirms Kuben. ‘Beswick Machinery’s expert technicians installed the system in early November and Bobst supplied one of its top instructors, Cyril Vonnez, to commission the line. He also provided our operators with a thorough grounding in all aspects of the equipment. It was an imposing display of Swiss precision!’ exclaims a clearly-impressed Kuben.
Developed specifically by Bobst for its range of folder-gluers, the AccuBraille unit is a high-speed in-line rotary module that embosses Braille into cartons during a single pass through the folder-gluer. Protected by a specially-designed locked cage, for security and safety purposes, AccuBraille takes Britepak’s operators just minutes to set up and, once running, keeps pace with the folder-gluer at speeds up to 100 000 cartons/hour. With the AccuFeed module up-front, carton blanks are perfectly aligned from the start and, by using a ‘product specific’ single impression male force steel plate matched to a generic female Braille cylinder, the AccuBraille’s application minimises dot definition drift over the length of the run. It embosses the Braille impression consistently to all stations of the printed scheme.
Fondly referred to as ‘ICE’ by Kuben and his team (in reference to the high-speed European intercity express trains), the Expert Fold 80 is also equipped with a BaumerHHS colour barcode reader, glue detection system and impressive QC kit that includes the Bobst in-line flipper ejector, placed just before the transfer section, which ejects all non-conforming cartons at full speed without stopping the gluing and folding process.
Via a touchscreen, operators can see instantly where rejections are occurring and can react to problems quickly and easily. A kicker counter ensures that the correct number of cartons is continually produced, regardless of rejects. ‘As value-added features, the QC tool and ejector system have definitely helped to reduce downtime and increase efficiency,’ says Kuben. ‘What’s also highly important is the carton counting; in fact it’s key to the entire system,’ he explains.
According to Dominic, AccuBraille hasn’t completely replaced traditional Braille embossing methods; rather it has enhanced Britepak’s capabilities for current projects and future opportunities. ‘The cut and crease technique has operated successfully for many years,’ comments Dominic. ‘However, in line with customer requirements, we’ve had to grow our production capacity. AccuBraille is the next natural step for us as it provides high-quality Braille cell embossing and stable definition across the run without compromising speed. Its design flexibility also allows embossing closer to cut/crease rules. It has radically shortened carton supply time and allowed us to maintain top-quality European-standard Braille embossing on even long production runs,’ Dominic declares. ‘We’ve been complimented on the quality of our AccuBraille-produced Braille by the European packaging development director of a major global pharmaceutical company, confirming that we’ve invested wisely,’ he concludes.
Commendation from Blind SA
‘We’re always encouraged by the launch of new technologies and eager to meet those who introduce them, making the world more accessible for the visually impaired. I believe this initiative will be a great success for the company and wish Britepak all the best for the future in applying Braille to its cartons,’ Philip Jordaan, manager of Blind SA Braille Services.Britepak T +27 011 5708700 www.britepak.co.za Beswick Machinery/Bobst Group T +27 011 4332686 www.beswick.co.za