Background of the Project

Reflecting on a 170-year legacy, Aspen is a global specialist and branded pharmaceutical company headquartered in Durban, South Africa, with offices spanning over 50 countries. Aspen’s focus lies in the production of post-patent, branded medicines, and domestic brands. Their manufacturing capabilities encompass a wide array of product types, including steriles, oral solid doses, liquids, semi-solids, biologicals, and active pharmaceutical ingredients.

Domino Printing Sciences (Domino) has maintained a longstanding collaboration with Aspen, facilitated through Intrex, a trusted distributor of Domino and a respected Polish machine manufacturer specializing in comprehensive solutions for coding and marking processes. Together, Domino and Intrex have undertaken several projects, implementing CO2 Laser and TTO (thermal transfer overprinting) coding technologies at Aspen’s facilities.

In their production facility located in Bad Oldesloe, Germany, Aspen sought a new labelling and coding machine for a bottle filling and packaging line. This line operates at a speed of 150 bottles per minute, with each bottle requiring a serialized traceability label and a distinct identification code on its base.

In response to Aspen’s requirements, Domino and Intrex collaborated to deliver an automated coding solution for the Bad Oldesloe production line. The comprehensive coding solution provided by Intrex includes a U510 UV laser and V320i TTO printer, enabling serialized traceability coding on both labels and bottles.

Domino Printing and Intrex Production Line integration

Quick Facts

The stringent regulatory standards in the global pharmaceutical industry mandate that only impeccably coded products can be integrated into the supply chain. Consequently, pharmaceutical manufacturing lines necessitate robust and dependable coding solutions, alongside automated machine vision for quality control and inspection.

Aspen sought a comprehensive, automated coding solution for marking both labels and bases of pharmaceutical bottles, provided by a single supplier. The solution had to be user-friendly and easily operable through a single human-machine interface (HMI).

Through a collaborative effort between Domino and Intrex, an integrated UV laser and TTO traceability coding solution with automated machine vision was successfully implemented for Aspen’s pharmaceutical lines.

Finding a Solution

Aspen faced the challenge of outfitting a liquid filling line, producing 150 bottles per minute, with labels containing serialized traceability data and direct product codes on the bases for identification on high racks. The integration of a machine vision control and rejection system was crucial to ensure only accurately labelled and coded bottles entered the supply chain. The entire solution had to be user-friendly, requiring minimal intervention to reduce errors, downtime, and waste.

In collaboration with Domino, Intrex developed a comprehensive solution for Aspen. The final design features a V320i TTO printer for coding the bottle labels of Aspen’s HDPE pharmaceutical bottles. An automated machine vision system verifies each label, ensuring only accurately coded labels are applied to the bottles. Additionally, a rejection system automatically discards any defective bottles.

For marking the base of each bottle with a code used for allocation in a high bay warehouse, Intrex provided a Domino U510 UV laser. This laser is specifically tailored for coding HDPE plastic material, delivering superior code quality. Its compact design allows for seamless integration into the limited space available in the machinery. A second machine vision system checks the base codes to ensure only flawless bottles enter the supply chain.

All components within the coding solution are operable via a single HMI, enabling Aspen’s operators to monitor all processes on the line from a unified location, enhancing ease of use and operational efficiency.

-Thorsten Hadwiger, Project Manager at Aspen, remarked on the successful collaboration, highlighting the excellent results achieved with the new UV laser for coding the bottom of the bottles.


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