Our battle in a bottle: Marchesini Group's solutions for vaccine packaging

Published: 22-Apr-2021

Marchesini Group discusses its product offering and how its being used to combat COVID-19

Marchesini Group, a leading company in the design and production of packaging machines for pharmaceutical products, is playing its role in the battle against COVID-19. The Group's headquarters located in Pianoro (Bologna), the heart of Italy’s Packaging Valley, is able to provide pharmaceutical companies around the world with the best solutions in the field of aseptic filling, inspection, labelling and packaging of vials and syringes containing vaccines.

Some product lines have already been used in the production of anti-COVID-19 serums: a major Russian biotechnology company, Biocad of Saint Petersburg, is using a Marchesini Group line to produce the Sputnik V vaccine at a rate of 200 vials per minute. And that’s not all. Projects in Latin America are also prgressing with the shipping of CMP Phar.ma machines to a Mexican client who will use them in the packaging process for the Astra Zeneca vaccine. In addition, a Spanish client is about to receive a complete syringe filling line comprised of:

  • a machine for the safe transfer of syringes from the Nest to the unload lane
  • plus a machine for automatic control (visual impurity inspection) of syringes and another machine for syringe assembly and labelling.

The line also features a cartoning machine, a labelling machine and an automatic horizontal case packer.

Inspection Machine

Inspection Machine

The Marchesini Group line for the packaging of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine

The project dates back to 2018, when Russian company Biocad enlisted Marchesini Group to design a line for the filling and packaging of vaccines. When the pandemic hit, Biocad decided to use the machines for Sputnik V, asking Marchesini Group to adapt the existing line to its new production needs and to speed up the delivery times.

The line delivered to the Russian client comprised of a machine for washing vials with distilled water, a vial sterilisation and depyrogenation tunnel, a filling machine which also fits a rubber stopper, and a capping machine for vial closure with an aluminium sealing ring. To guarantee precision dosing, the filling machine is equipped with an “in-process control” system that checks the weight of vials both when empty and immediately after filling. To further protect the filling and capping machines from any risk of external contamination, containment cabinets isolate the environment where the product is exposed from the environment where the operator is present.

Afterwards the vials are checked by a visual inspection machine that checks the quality of the liquid inside, after which they proceed to the labelling and cartoning stages. The line is completed by case packers that prepare the packages for positioning on pallets ready to be shipped to the distribution network.

A plant of this type requires an area of around 2000 sqm as well as other spaces such as utilities areas, operator changing rooms and product preparation areas. “We’re pleased with the interaction that we’ve had with Marchesini Group and we’re satisfied with the reliability of the machines supplied”, stated Alexey Torgov, deputy general director of Biocad. “For that matter, we already knew Marchesini Group, as we’ve been collaborating with them for some time”.

In recent months Marchesini Group has received new requests for vaccine packaging solutions. These plants, which have the capacity to produce on average 300 thousand vials a day, generally take between 12 and 15 months to make; given the current emergency, deliveries will now be completed in 6-8 months, thanks also to the endeavours of the various divisions of the Group involved in the production stage, including Corima, a company based in Monteriggioni (Siena) which is specialised in the design and development of automatic filling machines for glass vials, ampoules and syringes for injectable products.

Packing Machine

Packing Machine

Solutions for vaccine packaging in vials

Marchesini Group can provide numerous solutions for the filling and primary and secondary packaging of vaccines in vials. The rotary continuous motion machines of the WR family carry out internal washing and drying of SVP (Small Volume Parenteral) vials, which then travel through a depyrogenation tunnel. Next, the STERY-LA/LC filling and capping machines for liquid or freeze- dried products ensure aseptic filling with total or partial closing using rubber stoppers. This is followed by capping (CAPSY-LC), external washing and drying of ampoules and vials (WRE), and the printing of codes on the vials or caps/seals with subsequent verification by means of a camera (CODY).

In addition, clients can choose from an extensive range of CMP Phar.ma automatic machines for the inspection of ampoules, syringes and vials, with the option to combine their chosen system with a leak test unit. Lines can also incorporate linear (SL-F425 and BL-F425) or rotary (RL-F family) labelling machines. Finally, various solutions are available for secondary packaging - including FB220, the tray thermoforming machine for ampoules, vials and syringes - and for end of line, with an extensive portfolio of medium/high-speed cartoning machines which are ideal for packaging vials, ampoules and blisters, horizontal case packers and palletisers.

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