© panthermedia.net Toni Anett Kuchinke
Each medical device requires individual packaging that in some cases besides having a good ”fit” also has to be sterile or vacuum-packed. Depending on the size or options of the company, the manufacturer or outside companies can do the packaging. Especially small businesses benefit from the latter solution, since there are a great number of regulations that have to be considered for medical devices. This also includes the taking back of paper, cartons or cardboard, which is why manufacturers must obtain a license, for instance in the case of the “dual system”. To keep costs as low as possible however, several competitors that in part offer different concepts should be reviewed. Some waste management companies even consider the carbon footprint and provide neutral waste management for packaging materials.
After all, the packaging itself has to fit like a glove. As little material as possible should be consumed and excellent transport safety has to be guaranteed. Until a product receives the appropriate packaging, engineers work meticulously on standardization options, the material and the safety for the product through the packaging.
Identification – the thumbprint of every package
Aside from the right packaging of a product, it is also important to furnish the medical devices with a unique identifier on or in the packaging. This does not just serve the identification of an individual product, but should also clearly distinguish the original from an imitation. Even though forgers of medical devices oftentimes have no inhibitions to offer devices under their own name, a unique identifier for your products is essential. In case of a product recall campaign for instance, it provides traceability of the device. When you think back to the recent issues with hip implants whose ceramic femoral heads broke, a connection with patient data also makes sense – beyond the implant passport the patients receive.
Besides these open markers that are for example laser engraved into the implant’s surface, hidden markers can also be used that help in identifying forged products and taking them off the market. Hidden markers could be ink imprints for instance that can only be detected under special lighting, but also watermarks, metallic threads or so-called taggants that can denote electronic identification like a microchip but also chemical markers like fragrances.
For the external packaging however, barcodes are still a good choice, and they are available as 2D barcodes. They have an increased information density but can vary from country to country. Even though barcodes can also be invisibly applied, RFID tags are much more flexible for “hidden marking”. The small transponders can also be applied via printing technology and can be read inside closed packaging with a special reading device. Those who for instance want to consistently trace their goods are well served with this technology.
Simone Ernst (translated by Elena O'Meara)