Starting as a district pharmacy under the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Viennese family business Kwizda has undergone quite a transformation. Today, the company is one of the largest Austrian companies in the health care sector and covers the service chain from manufacturing, distribution and wholesale, to running an entire network of pharmacies. At present, the Kwizda group employs a workforce of 1,200 and supplies all of Europe with its products. Popular products include prescription medication as well as the prescription-free BRONCHOSTOP® range. In addition to cough lozenges and drops, this line includes BRONCHOSTOP® cough syrup for oral consumption. This traditional, herbal remedy contains extracts of thyme and sorrel that soothe throat irritations.
Over the years, the expansion of the company has gone hand in hand with the extension of product ranges. With the distribution of BRONCHOSTOP® products on the rise, in order to meet increasing demand Kwizda decided to expand production in 2014 using a new filling and packaging line for the viscous cough syrup. For this undertaking in particular, the company needed a hygienic solution for filling and packaging glass bottles. The pharmaceuticals manufacturer found a reliable partner in Bosch Packaging Technology.
The benefits of the piston filler
“When we first called for tenders for the filling and packaging line, we discussed whether we should stick to a piston filler – despite the product’s high viscosity,” Dr Martin Bucher, Manufacturing Manager at Kwizda, explains. “But when Bosch submitted their bid they clearly stated that a piston filler was in fact the best solution,” Bucher continues. At Interpack 2014 in Düsseldorf, Kwizda and Bosch discussed the project once more, which resulted in Dr Bucher and Christian Sickenberg, Liquids Team Leader at Kwizda, being invited to Viersen for a filling trial run with a comparable filling and capping system with a piston filler. “In the end, the trial run in Viersen convinced us, since it worked flawlessly from the start using our cough syrup,” Dr Bucher and Christian Sickenberg summarized the results of the filling trial run in Viersen.
A compact one-stop-shop solution
For the production of BRONCHOSTOP® cough syrup in 125 to 290 milliliter sizes, Bosch proposed a compact production line that made maximum use of the available space: A bottle unpacker forms the start of the line, followed by an air blower to clean inside all bottles. The bottles are then transported to a rotating piston-filling machine, equipped with nine filling stations. “All production steps are carried out in one run – without interruption, enabling us to increase our current output of 70 filled bottles per minute to 200,” Christian Sickenberg recalls with praise. Once filled, the bottles are transported to the closer via a connection screw. After screw-capping the bottles and placing measuring cup on top of the cap, they are weighed by an integrated belt scale before being passed on to the labelling machine or, if necessary, being discharged. A turntable, which simultaneously serves as a buffer, delivers the bottles to the cartoner, from where the bottles are transferred to the case packer, the palletizer and the stretch wrapper as a last step.
Bosch Packaging Technology’s volumetric filling system provided a reliable and flexible solution for Kwizda that can process liquid to paste-like products with a high degree of filling accuracy and increased performance. “Due to the nature of our product, all parts that come into contact with the product must be cleaned rigorously before the filling process. The integrated CIP (Cleaning in Place) Plus System that Bosch provided is an ideal cleaning concept,” Mario Beisteiner, technical solutions specialist at Kwizda, remarked. “The CIP Plus System provides us the possibility to program product-relevant and individual cleaning procedures, enabling us to guarantee a reliable cleaning process and replicable results. Furthermore, the innovative cleaning concept minimizes downtime.”
Space-saving capping technology
“The capping mechanism for BRONCHOSTOP® cough syrup presented a very specific challenge. We had to consider three capping elements that were to be applied to the one bottle,” Mario Beisteiner says. In addition to the screw cap with an integrated spout, a measuring cup needed to be placed over the closed bottle. “Competitors require two separate machines for these two processes, while Bosch offered us a compact, space-saving solution that only required one machine.”
Economically weighed and packaged
Based on Kwizda’s specifications, Bosch integrated a checkweigher into the filling and capping process for the first time. “Under- or over-filled bottles can be removed from the processing procedure as quickly as possible. Previously, the belt scale was located after the cartoner. However, this increased production costs, since the bottle had already been closed and labelled, and the package leaflet and other accessories had already been packed with the bottle,” Mario Beisteiner explains. This new layout also facilitates the regulation of the filling process using a tendency control, which ensures a consistent filling quantity. “Checking product weight at an earlier stage makes the identification of faulty products easier; discharging these products in a timely manner saves additional material costs in the long run.”
After being weighed, the bottles are labelled and fed into to the continuous CUK 2040 cartoner from Bosch, which packages the bottles and folded package leaflets into boxes. The machine can carton up to 200 bottles per minute. In addition to its high degree of flexibility and robustness, the cartoner is easy to access due to its ergonomic design and is therefore very user-friendly. For example, the entire folding unit for package leaflets can be swiveled out on the operator side, thus saving valuable time during configuration and fault correction. After processing in the cartoner, the packaged bottles are transferred to a case packer.
Convincing line competence
“Right from the get-go we spoke a common language, which made our collaboration highly enjoyable. From the start of the project we were assigned a contact point who took care of all our concerns,” Dr Bucher explains. “Bosch provided a ready-to-use concept that suited our limited space perfectly. In addition to building the actual production plant, Bosch took charge of planning the entire system – that’s what I call successful line management! Furthermore, Bosch took our individual needs into consideration and integrated machinery from other providers into the one production line. We now have a compact solution that fulfils our expectations and enables maximum performance on minimum space.” As a result, the two companies look forward to cooperating further in future.
Based in Waiblingen near Stuttgart, Germany, and employing 6,300 associates, the Bosch Packaging Technology division is one of the leading suppliers of process and packaging technology. At over 30 locations in more than 15 countries worldwide, a highly-qualified workforce develops and produces complete solutions for the pharmaceuticals, food, and confectionery industries. These solutions are complemented by a comprehensive after-sales service portfolio. A global service and sales network provides customers with local points of contact.