Highly flexible and efficient: these are the strengths common to the global success story of the BEC family. The biography commenced in 1999 with the first Blister Express Center (BEC) and culminates for the time being in 2015 with the introduction of the three-lane BEC 700. Reason enough to look behind the scenes and identify the most significant developments.
Flashback to the 1990s: signs of a shift in pharmaceutical production are visible around the Globe. Mergers and acquisitions, globalisation, as well as the growing competition from generics manufacturers is leaving a noticeable impact. The market for nonproprietary products is growing and that for original products is on the decline. At the same time, orders ranging from 500 to 15,000 blisters are increasing at a fast pace, but frequently packaged on high-performance lines. The negative effect is twofold: bulk orders are hindered and the smaller ones are not cost effective because of time-consuming format changeovers. In many cases, the OEE fails to reach even 50 percent.
Evolution of new concept
Good reasons for Uhlmann to think about developing a completely new machine concept that also takes the logistical environment into account. Result: the ‘Blister Express Center’, in short BEC. Managing Director Siegfried Drost summarised its merits at the time as follows: “Everything about the BEC is minimised: the footprint, number of tools, setup times, and operating effort. Our customers find precisely this idea convincing.”
Just how convincing it became was pretty evident at Interpack in 1999. Combining a blister machine, cartoner, and a stretch-banding machine, Uhlmann presented a linked system for the cost-effective handling of short order runs completed in minutes. Crucial for the productive interaction of the three elements are the 26-synchronised servo-regulated drives, which automatically control all the drive functions, and a central operation and visualisation system controlled via a touchscreen. Another highlight at the trade show was the live format changeover from PVC/Al to Al/Al in just 15 minutes – a minor sensation!
Basic principle: Flexibility
Unmanned production, self-monitoring and self-regulating, and a reliable process owing to direct blister transfer: these merits, in addition to fast format changeovers, are the success factors of all the blister lines of the BEC family. The BEC family includes the high-performance BEC 500, which Uhlmann presented at ACHEMA in 2006. Unlike the first BEC, the BEC 500 appeared with the configuration common to all blister lines since then: blister machine plus cartoner. What was the reason for omitting the stretch-banding machine? Additional flexibility when it comes to end-of-line packaging! Whether stretch-banding machine, overwrapper, case packer, or palletiser, the BEC 500 can be supplemented with end-of-line packaging systems suited to the particular application.
BEC 300: Built to impress. Priced to move
Low procurement and running costs, proven Uhlmann quality, and convincing performance data are factors with which the Blister line BEC 300 attracted attention at FachPack 2009 in Nuremberg. The single-lane line processes all common types of solid dose products and forming materials at an output of 300 blisters and 150 cartons per minute. One person can complete a format changeover in 20 minutes. The BEC 300 also made a mark with its attractive price. Customers receive a single-lane, continuous motion packaging line ready for immediate production.
Simplicity in perfection: The new BEC 500
On account of the radical changes in production structures, the pharmaceutical manufacturers not only have to cope with sinking batch sizes, but also find themselves confronted with other challenges such as a shortage of qualified personnel, stricter quality specifications, and less scope for investments. The replacement of an older packaging line is only viable when the new line is more flexible and productive. The Blister line BEC 500 is tailored to meet these needs. Revised in all respects, the two-lane line presented in 2012 is geared to handle batches of 30,000 to 150,000 packs. The line is available with Flat or Rotary sealing. Consequently, a broader range of requirements can be met, e.g., complex product shapes, rigid aluminum pockets, or calendar packs.
The modular design allows individual configuration, and guidance through a format changeover is provided by the Smart Control operating system. As is the case with all the models of the BEC family, Track & Trace by Uhlmann can also be integrated to meet the statutory requirements of the relevant countries.
BEC 700: Three lanes for higher output
The latest member of the BEC range, introduced in 2015, is the blister line BEC 700. Compact and powerful, it is the right line needed for rapidly expanding markets with high potential. The BEC 700 celebrated its debut in China for this reason. The pharmaceutical market there is developing at a fast pace and the demand for medicines is on the increase. This means that there is also the need for lines capable of handling various forms of packaging and large batches. The top performer BEC 700 is based on the proven concept of the BEC range, but its three-lane operation offers significantly higher output – up to 40 per cent compared to the BEC 500.
BEC — A convincing idea
The addition of the new BEC 700 to the BEC family means that the ideal solution is available for every production scenario. The BEC lines are in operation all over the world. They prove and validate round the clock that the innovative concept of combining a blister and a cartoner module, which dates back to 1999. The footprint, number of tools, setup times and operating effort remain at a minimum, while there is no limit to productivity with the three output Range – BEC 300, BEC 500 & BEC 700.
The BEC journey
- 1999 The Blister Express Center combines a blister machine, cartoner, and stretch-banding machine in a single unit and revolutionises the conventional production structures in the pharmaceutical industry.
- 2006 The BEC 500 combines maximum flexibility with high output.
- 2009 Built to Impress. Priced to Move. Two strong arguments in favor of the Blister line BEC 300, the flexible system comprising a blister and a cartoner module.
- 2012 The new BEC 500. The line for alternating batches of up to 150,000 packs scores with innovative features such as servo-regulated drives, radically simplified format changeovers, the new SmartControl operating system, and two-lane operation.
- 2014 BEC 300 containment solution: a special, highly flexible alternative based on the standard blister line.
- 2015 The new BEC 300 generation – developed in close cooperation with Uhlmann customers. Suitable for all types of forming materials, product shapes, cartons, and leaflets.
- 2016 The efficient packaging of bulk volumes on three lanes without forgoing flexibility: the BEC 700 rounds off the BEC family to a higher output level.
Uhlmann India presents the BEC 500 in action during the PMEC at Bombay Exhibition Centre at Booth No J2, Hall No 5 from November 28 to 30, 2017.