Most precise label alignment thanks to newly developed adjustment head

With today's IML systems, the positioning of the labels can change during operation. This can occur due to a magazine change, label change or within a label stack due to cutting tolerances. The new adjustment head from Beck Automation AG detects these irregularities and precisely aligns the labels.

"Our adjustment head is used where value is placed on a precisely positioned label," explains Nico Zehnder, Marketing and Sales Manager at Beck Automation. The IML specialist from Switzerland is presenting the new adjustment head to the expert audience for the first time at the K trade fair in Düsseldorf. The BECK adjustment head picks up individual labels, measures and positions them in the desired position. The unit is mounted on the IML transport unit, which loads the core dummy with labels. On the transport path between the magazine and the core dummy, the adjustment head precisely aligns the label. As a result, the positioning accuracy is increased. In addition, the number of rejects and manual fine adjustments are reduced. The adjustment head can be retrofitted to most existing IML systems, whereby the space requirement corresponds to the classic angular delivery of the label transport.

The application will be on display at the WITTMANN BATTENFELD booth in Hall 15, Booth C06. Beck Automation will also be presenting further product innovations at K 2022 in Hall 12 B36-05.

High demand for IML solutions in the medical sector

This spring, Beck Automation AG officially entered the international medical market. The focus was on automation solutions for producers of medical consumables manufactured by injection moulding. After three months, the first positive developments can already be summarized.

"At the beginning, we assumed that our market entry would be positively evaluated by medical companies. However, we did not expect so much positive feedback and requests," Ralf Ziemer, Sales Manager Medical at Beck Automation, recalls. It was not only the reactions to the market entry in the social networks that were extremely positive, but also the requests received in the following period. Beck Automation had to correct the estimates. It had been assumed that there would be less demand for in-mould-labelling applications, and we initially concentrated on applications in the area of high-speed take out and downstream.

However, IML solutions have also been in high demand until now, which is why Beck Automation has adapted its strategy. "We didn't necessarily want to push IML in the medical sector, but about 50% of all requests have to do with IML. Some of these are specific, high-precision applications. For example, we are currently working on a solution to insert an RFID label into components that will later be used with pre-filled syringes. We received the request for this future-oriented technology because we are the only automation company that can offer such precise solutions," says Ziemer. In addition, other promising projects were generated.

"We convince our business partners with our engineering and our understanding of the structural design of a medical system. As soon as we address this topic and show examples of what we understand by Swiss engineering, we call the customers attention. As a result, we receive mostly relate to functional and high-precision IML. This is very important, especially in the medical sector," Ziemer continues. For example, the Beck Automation engineering team is currently working on a solution to apply the scale of a centrifuge tube using IML. In this case, IML is to replace the printing technology used so far. Ziemer is aware that the IML process must be very precise, reliable and repeatable. To some extent, tolerances (print to cut) of the labels have to be compensated too.

"We are able to reproduce these very precise IML processes. In doing so, we combine our experience with the innovations we have developed. Moreover, we are already working on future technologies, such as high-precision positioning, which we will present this year during the K trade fair in Düsseldorf," Ziemer explains further.

Swiss automation innovations for the medical market

The Swiss technology company Beck Automation develops innovative automation solutions that can be integrated into the production processes of plastics processing industries. With its innovative system solutions and services, the process specialist ensures quality and efficiency in a wide range of production processes. CEO Nicolas Beck, CSO Nino Zehnder and Ralf Ziemer, Sales Manager Medical at Beck Automation, explain in an interview why the third-generation family-run company is now establishing another mainstay in the field of medical technology.

Mr. Beck, you are expanding into the medical field and have founded your own BU for this purpose. What was the decisive factor for this? 

Nicolas Beck: We have been looking at this option for about four years, because Switzerland is a global medical location where pharmaceutical companies and research and development facilities are located. Our country not only plays a clear leading role in an international comparison, but is also surrounded by medical companies and suppliers from neighbouring countries. Furthermore, market analyses and the sharp increase in the number of enquiries show the growing demand for automation solutions.  Our high-quality system solutions are in great demand. In the IML sector, we are among the top 3 manufacturers worldwide.  Therefore, our entry into the medical market is a consequent step, which represents a milestone in the history of Beck Automation.

How did Beck Automation prepare for its entry into the medical sector? It was certainly necessary to build up specialist knowledge, to train employees and also to align marketing and sales with the new sector.

Nino Zehnder: Already in the planning phase, we built up market- and product-specific knowledge and hired expert staff. We have aligned sales, project management, construction and service to the specific conditions. In addition, we cooperate closely with our existing customers who, for example, serve the medical consumables market. Because we want to concentrate specifically on the medical market, the Business Unit Medical will work autonomously within our organisation in order to be able to react competently, flexibly and quickly to customer requirements.

So you want to offer specific automation solutions for the medical sector?

Nino Zehnder: Medical components are not standard parts. They require very individual, customised solutions and that is where our core competence lies. Therefore, we will continue to act according to our mission statement: listen, understand, and then act within our core competencies. Our customised systems result in sustainable economic advantages for our customers. In doing so, we set ourselves the highest standards in product and production safety. We ensure this through solutions that are reproducible, validatable and hygienically flawless.

 

Which customer groups do you address?

Ralf Ziemer: Our solutions are aimed at companies that produce medical consumables using injection moulding. These are pharmaceutical companies and their manufacturers. There are application areas in the four main segments of injection, infusion/transfusion, diagnostics/laboratory as well as health care and hospital care. Furthermore, we also address manufacturers of high-quality packaging solutions in cosmetics.

What product-specific added value can potential medical customers expect from Beck Automation?

Ralf Ziemer: Products used for medical purposes must not pose any risks to patients or users. The products must therefore be absolutely flawless. Since our systems cannot be manipulated, our machines offer the highest possible product and production safety. In addition, our modular machines are highly efficient with the smallest possible footprint. These systems already fulfil many of the prevailing requirements in medical technology.

Are there any other advantages that Beck Automation can offer potential medical customers?

Nicolas Beck: Our employees have in-depth automation know-how and also show many years of experience in the development and production of customised solutions. Our customers benefit from this profound knowledge. Furthermore, we are broadly positioned internationally. With our Swiss headquarters, our new plant in Portugal, which opened in 2021, and the expanded subsidiary in the USA, we have a good network to build on. If our own employees are not available on site, our long-standing international partners are at our disposal.

Nino Zehnder: And finally, we have already been able to implement the first solutions in the medical sector. This is despite the fact that we won’t officially launch our new business unit until beginning of Q2/2022. However, we cannot talk about this project at the moment.

Thank you very much for the interesting comments.

Geschäftsführer der Beck Automation, Nicolas Beck