As a leading serialisation automation supplier, Finland-based Servicepoint Oy boasts extensive know-how and experience from automating hundreds of production lines for various industries, including pharmaceutical. Elisabeth Skoda spoke to Iiro Jantunen, the company's Senior Manager, R&D and Consulting, to find out more about how the company offers customers a one-stop shop for their serialisation needs.
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Servicepoint, with its headquarters in Kuopio, was founded in 2006, but the roots of its automation expertise go back over several decades.
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"Our company was created out of several businesses, the oldest of which started operations in the 1940s in industrial electrification. The company has been working on automation for the pharmaceutical industry for 30 years now," Mr Jantunen begins.
Servicepoint specialises in industrial automation projects, maintenance and robotic applications. It offers its customers all-inclusive solutions and serves as an integrator that is responsible for tailoring automation, integrating serialisation and other equipment, and overall project architecture, tasks that demand versatile machine and equipment planning as well as advanced automation and software know-how. The overall solution is always delivered in compliance with the regulations and standards pertaining to the site.
"Our projects are all different from one another. We normally check what production facilities our customers have, and then can make a proposal on how to achieve the changes they want with regards to production speed, adding serialisation and extra capacity. We have to keep a keen eye on what is possible on the production line and what needs to be done in the available space. One solution does not fit all, for example, some customers have lots of space, and others are working in quite confined spaces. Careful planning before starting work is key," Mr Jantunen points out.
With its many years of experience, Servicepoint's multi-skilled teams are able to offer targeted and flexible support from one source to customers, including serialisation and track & trace (SATT) expertise, packaging solution expertise, and the possibility to implement the SATT solution within third party machinery. This allows customers to leave more resources to concentrate on daily operations. Servicepoint puts time and effort in high quality documentation in order to guarantee the best results.
"We can also help our customers in the pre-project phase, if they do not have the necessary resources themselves. We rent our people out to help with project activities. So there is no need to postpone work for lack of resources. We have consultants, but we also can do the complete project," Mr Jantunen explains.
"A software or machinery company might not be able to help in the entirety of the project, integration to the existing production needs specialists from companies like us. A holistic viewpoint on the production/packaging line is required."
Recipe for success
Servicepoint's services offer companies huge possibilities to improve productivity alongside their serialisation needs.
"Serialisation affects production equipment through validation needs. With our services, there is possibility to decrease costly downtime. New machinery validation can be done 'offline' with serialisation equipment," Mr Jantunen says.
Testing is performed at Servicepoint's site in order to make life easier for customers.
"We test the constructed automation line at our premises (Factory Acceptance Test, FAT) to weed out possible problems before transferring the line to the customer's site. This shortens the production downtime required for installation," Mr Jantunen adds.
Furthermore, Servicepoint offers its services for a variety of set ups. "In addition to manual or semi-manual workstations, we can build a fully automatic robotised packaging cell, which prints and labels each individual package, bundles, boxes and pallets, validates each printed result with machine vision (camera + software) against the server data, automatically rejects all substandard prints and packages, automatically aggregates packages, bundles, boxes and pallets according to customer specification, while at all times controlling and managing the entire packaging and serialisation process," Mr Jantunen is happy to report.
Working with reliable partners
Thanks to its partnership with Systech International, a global technology leader in product safety and consumer and brand protection, Servicepoint can offer Systech serialisation with implementation to existing packaging equipment. Mr. Jantunen describes the reasons behind the cooperation: "Systech provides the best software for serialisation, but they also need integrators to do work on production lines. We have a happy, symbiotic partnership."
Mr Jantunen is also keen to point out that, thanks to Servicepoint's history in maintenance, the company is able to work with several types of equipment and is therefore able to work with whatever devices a customer has.
"We are not stuck with just one machine or brand, but of course we have preferred partners, such as KUKA Robotics, Festo and Siemens."
From Finland to Europe
Servicepoint mostly does business with companies in Finland, but has also worked on several projects with companies in the EU and in Russia, and demand is increasing also due to increasingly stringent regulations in the pharmaceutical industry.
Servicepoint's approach means it is well positioned in the marketplace, as Mr Jantunen explains. "There are a lot of software providers for serialisation, and hardware providers. A company like us is needed to integrate the software and hardware to the production line. We have extensive experience in the pharmaceutical sector, which has particularly high standards to contend with, so compliance and validation is important."
This experience in the pharmaceutical comes in useful to guarantee high quality for other industries as well.
"We have also worked with companies in the food and beverage industries, and even worked with explosives, which of course have particularly strict regulations. We are able to cope with many demanding regulations and requirements," he concludes.