Views: 4 Author: Site Editor Publish Time: 2018-05-29 Origin: Site
It is not only in the pharmaceutical industry that the traceability of products – also known as track & trace – plays a relevant role for protecting consumers. According to the EU Commission, precise identification of all packaging is indispensable. Therefore, manufacturers now comply with the EU Directive 2014/40/EU, the latest amendment of which was adopted in May 2014. Within a period of five years the industry is expected to have implemented a complete track and trace system for cigarette and fine-cut products. This time window will “close” in May 2019. The tobacco industry considers this deadline too short for implementing all the necessary measures.
Specific technologies integrated into every individual manufacturing step are called for to uniquely identify packets, bundles and master cases. The challenge is to fit plenty of information onto the packaging while also providing sufficient storage space on the data carriers required for traceability. Up to fifty characters are to be saved in future; this means that the labeling process for the boxes will become substantially longer. This is a decisive factor for the tobacco industry where fast production lines and high yields are a must. Some high-speed lines run 1,000 packs per minute through the machine.
The legislation brings an additional challenge for manufacturers in the EU. EU member states are allowed to specify the code format on the packaging for their specific countries. In the EU packaging is predominantly encoded with lasers – here 2D codes as a data matrix, dot codes or QR-Codes are accepted.
Since manufacturers orient their production lines towards several markets as a rule, the machines must be capable of printing 30, 40 or 60 characters on data carriers. In some countries such as Australia packaging design regulations do not even allow the application of codes, to start with. In other cases, such as some snuff tobacco packaging formats, there is not even enough space for the code on the packaging.
The IT infrastructure also has to be designed accordingly. Existing encoders must also be adapted and/or extended with additional encoding equipment. This is associated with major capital investment. To share best practices and jointly drive solutions several multi-national producers have joined the forces in DCTA, the Digital Coding and Tracking Association.