• Print quality and colour stability of the digital printing system a decisive argument for the investment.
  • B1 format fits perfectly into the existing production setup, with digital and offset printing complementing each other.
  • Automated workflows, close integration of customers into the process and digital printing further shorten packaging delivery times.

Rondo AG, based in Allschwil near Basel (Switzerland), part of the international Körber Group in Hamburg, is conducting the world’s first beta test in the area of pharmaceutical packaging with the Primefire 106. The digital printing system of Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG (Heidelberg) has been installed at Rondo since April 2018, where it is the final piece in the packaging specialist’s Supply on Demand solution. “The trends in the pharmaceutical industry are heading towards ever declining runs and shorter delivery times in response to personalised medicine, increasing language and country versions and much shorter delivery times for medicines,” confirms Joachim Hoeltz, CEO of Rondo AG. “Our production consists entirely of secondary packaging. Through process automation and close IT integration we offer our customers a just-in-time service and by doing so help them to optimise their own supply chain.”

Rondo AG’s Supply on Demand Service

Rondo has been offering its Supply on Demand Service since the Interpack trade fair in spring of last year. This means that every week for almost a year, it has been supplying a key pharmaceutical customer with a large number of folding carton orders with very short delivery times. Rondo automated its own workflow and optimised the ERP integration with its customer. The goal of providing small batch sizes in consistently high quality with delivery times of less than a week, has already been achieved through conventional offset printing and optimised job preparation and postpress processes. A Speedmaster XL 105 ten-colour perfecting press with coating unit is currently used for printing.

Rondo AG’s Supply on Demand Service helps its customers within the pharmaceutical industry to reduce their total cost of ownership. The precision delivery of the required quantities reduces storage costs or eliminates them completely in case of direct delivery to the packaging machine. In addition, costs for destroying obsolete packaging are avoided. The close IT integration additionally saves significant costs in the administrative area. In the quality process, Rondo can handle the customer’s incoming goods inspection in compliance with strict good manufacturing practice (GMP) regulations, so that this step can be reduced to a minimum at the pharmaceutical companies. All in all, this can save up to 50% of the total supply chain costs on the customer side. The much shorter packaging delivery times also enable the pharmaceutical customer to reduce their own delivery times for their medicines often significantly, which in turn leads to considerable benefits on the sales side.

Playing to the strengths of digital printing

“We stand for customized developments and for innovations,” explains Hans-Peter Süßlack, Business Process Manager at Rondo. “Offset printing has its limits when it comes to the personalization and run lengths of just one pack. That’s why we took a serious look at digital printing. We tested quite a few systems in the past four years. We saw the Primefire 106 at drupa 2016 and opted for this machine after various tests.” The Primefire 106 is the first industrial digital printing press for packaging in B1 format and thus is the perfect complement to the Speedmaster in 70 x 100 format.

As well as the possibility of producing pharmaceutical packaging from batch sizes of one at the lowest possible cost, the Primefire 106 also makes an impression through its ability to add variable data such as serial numbers while the packaging is being printed. “A decisive factor in addition to the right format is the long-standing, reliable and trusting partnership with Heidelberg,” confirms Jörg Oswald, Director of Operations at Rondo. “A stable customer/supplier relationship with a high degree of trust and a high quality standard is very important in the pharmaceutical industry. The motto is safety, safety, and once again safety.” With this in mind, a development project for the Primefire 106 consists of being able to print custom serial numbers in order to prevent counterfeit medicines under the EU Counterfeiting Directive. This subproject should become reality in 2019.

The Primefire 106 is installed right beside the Speedmaster XL 105 in Rondo AG’s production hall. “Both systems complement each other’s respective strengths, which in turn benefits the customer. The Primefire 106 handles shorter runs and jobs involving variable data, while the Speedmaster XL 105 is perfect for longer runs,” adds Giovanni De Luca, Director Operations for Switzerland at Rondo. “Heidelberg’s extensive colour expertise ensures that end customers cannot see any difference – a must in the pharmaceutical industry.”