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Italian Engineering Company Schmucker Cooperates with WIPOTEC Weigh Cells in Daily Use: Multilane, Fast and Highly Precise

The respected Italian engineering company Schmucker is one of the market leaders for packaging machinery and integrated plant systems, in particular, pharmaceutical packaging. For more than ten years, the company has an intensive and very successful partnership with the German Weigh Cell expert WIPOTEC.

The company headquarters is conveniently located near the Trieste airport and Venice is just one hour away by car. Schmucker has more than 100 employees divided across two plants and a production area of more than 5000 sqm. and sales of approximately 17 million euros. The company has an export ratio of over 80% which attests to its international standing in its core European market.
The company (founded in 1977) works with multinational enterprises, for example, Novartis, Bayer, Nestlé, Unilever, Kraft, and Ferrero to name a few of the largest of these. Various machine models and automated packaging lines allow Schmucker to accommodate the diverse demands of a broad range of customers. All stages of production, from planning and development to manufacturing in addition to the marketing and distribution of end products, are performed "inhouse."

Over the years, the two machine manufacturers Schmucker and WIPOTEC have cooperated to complete even the most challenging of projects to the satisfaction of diverse customers in the pharmaceutical industry. The two firms have developed a strong partnership working together for numerous well-known customers like Sanofi-Aventis in France, Ferring in Switzerland, Delpharm in France and Belgium, or Desitin in Germany. Founder and owner Enrico Schmucker says, "Close cooperation and teamwork have always been a hallmark of the relationship between our companies." As an industry pioneer, he knows what is important: "Our customers demand a very high consistent quality, which is why we are very pleased to have found a highly qualified partner like WIPOTEC.“

Easy to use and with a guarantee of high quality, "stick packs" are ideal for the packaging of medicinal products by reason of safety, hygiene, and convenience. Patients enjoy the ease with which the content of the "stick pack" can be removed and the added benefit of being able to consume the product without spoons, cups or water for sublingual product dispensing. Compared to other common packaging solutions, the stick pack uses significantly less material and is a very economical form of packaging.
Schmucker develops fully automated packaging lines for a variety of customers in the pharmaceutical branch. The lanes are capable of processing and packing up to 800 sticks per minute. The line consists of different modular elements: a dosing system for various kinds of products located ahead of the packaging machine, an area where the pillow pouch is formed and sealed on three sides, a check weigher system for determining weight, a "Pick & Place" system that accepts the stick packs and places them in collecting buckets or directly in cartons, and after being filled, transports them respectively to the cartooning machine or carton closing machine.

WIPOTEC multi-lane weighing technology

Schmucker plant near Triest

When planning a stick pack line, dosing accuracy for the primary packaging is critical and requires fast and accurate weighing of the stick packs. CEO Enrico Schmucker is positive that "the best solutions in the field of weighing technology are without a doubt supplied by WIPOTEC," and adds, "WIPOTEC checkweighers are one of the most important elements of the line." It is especially important in the production of pharmaceuticals that the content of the stick pack actually matches the information shown on the packaging. Just imagine the possible fatal consequences for patients with epilepsy, alzheimers, or heart disease if an overdose or underdose of the medication were to occur.

The push-over variant of the HC multi-lane was developed in a joint effort by WIPOTEC and Schmucker specifically for the dynamic weighing of stick packs. Integrated in the product line and located directly after the filling unit, it can weigh up to 14 products in parallel. The filling unit transfers the stick packs directly and individual within the correct track distance to the weighing station. The stick packs are then weighed individually on the Weigh Cells, lane-specific and independent from one another. In the event of a weight discrepancy, the under- or overweight stick pack is ejected by the separation unit (e.g., a sorting trap). The checkweighers for these lines are equipped with a special functionality, the "reject verification." The purpose of this function in a multi-lane production process is to insure that all "bad-products" have been removed from the production process and to guarantee that only the "good products" are transferred to the downstream machine. If one stick pack is identified as having an incorrect weight, it will be sorted out of the line and then it will be replaced along the line with a good one. If deemed necessary for the downstream process, an entire lane can be selectively sorted out according to the maxim: "one bad - all bad." Even Schmucker’s technical department is amazed by another special feature, i.e., mid-lane positioning (up to 44 mm depending on product width), which he can only get from WIPOTEC.

The technical department is also impressed by the flexibility of the checkweighers: "An important criterion of the HC multi-lane is the possibility to perform a tool-free format change in a very short time." This permits rapid retrofitting for different stick pack sizes. Also, supply and handover are extremely important considerations when planning a line and are solved par excellence by Schmucker/WIPOTEC. The two engineering firms worked for a long time to perfect details like the synchronization of the downstream and upstream machines or the cross-check controls for the lane-dependent separator system. For Schmucker, precision and the ultra-fast WIPOTEC Weigh Cells equipped with integrated AVC technology (Active Vibration Compensation) makes the difference: "It is by far the best on the market."

CEO Enrico Schmucker is certain: "The intensive and very good cooperation between two engineering companies of our calibre will continue long into the future."

Schmucker’s Sales Director Sebastiano Nastasi summarizes the successful cooperation as follows: “The relationship between Schmucker and WIPOTEC has been profitable and important concerning the results we obtained together. The success of this cooperation is represented by an ideal solution regarding the handling of the stick in inlet and outlet of checkweigher. In this collaboration emerged also the connubial WIPOTEC/Schmucker reliability: the availability of WIPOTEC’s engineering department and technicians, their interventions and the process of troubleshooting they made. We obtained an enhancement of the technic by improving the technology in accordance to our customer needs. In this way we both satisfied the purpose of the customization. However both companies still look forward to research always a better solution to improve our technology and face the final customers’ challenges and needs.”

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