Turck Serialization in the pharmaceutical industry

Author / Editor: Frank Rohn, Turck / Lisa Saller, Lisa Saller

Together with other partners, Turck Korea has implemented a complete serialization and identification system for pharmaceutical products – from the production plant right through to the dispatch warehouse.

The pilot project initially comprised the development and construction of a total of ten bulk reading machines and seven labeling machines.
The pilot project initially comprised the development and construction of a total of ten bulk reading machines and seven labeling machines.
(Photo: Turck)

Counterfeit pharmaceutical products present health authorities and competition regulators with a great deal of problems. For this reason the entire production and sales chain of pharmaceutical products will be made fully transparent in future. Together with other partners, Turck Korea introduced this so-called serialization for pharmaceutical manufacturers, Daewon Pharm Co. Ltd. Depending on the requirements, optical codes or RFID are used for identification. All identification technologies however refer to the same database in the central data cloud. Turck's RFID solution allows even reading of up to 500 individual packages in a closed box.


By 2019 all medicine packaging must be positively identified within the EU, at each point of the production and distribution chain. As soon as the medicine is placed in the first packaging unit (primary packaging), such as a blister pack, they are assigned to a manufacturer and a batch. This identification must also be possible in larger packaging units such as for wholesalers or logistics providers, as well as finally in the drug store. Each packaging unit – from the blister and the conventional drug package (secondary packaging) as can be bought in the drug store, to bundles of several packages (tertiary packaging), right up to the complete carton or even an entire pallet of pharmaceutical products – must be identifiable completely. This kind of system is relatively complex. Several interfaces between the different systems are required, and all read and write devices must be able to access the same database – in real time.

Pilot project shows feasibility

Turck Korea together with other partners have developed a solution for Daewon Pharm, the South Korean pharmaceutical manufacturer, which could also set a precedent in Europe. The pilot project is an excellent example of automated serialization for pharmaceutical products. This involves a lot more than the actual identification with barcodes or RFID tags: The data not only has to be available in the system at individual points but also in a network, which in the final expansion stage runs through the entire production and distribution chain. Serialization here is implemented right up to the storing of the drugs in the Daewon warehouse. In a final expansion stage, it is also possible for wholesalers and each individual drug store to be incorporated in the system and the data cloud. Besides Turck, strong partners were involved in the pilot project, who offered their experience with the parent IT infrastructure and the data connection to ERP and MES systems.

The project partners

The main contract partner in the project was the biotechnology and pharmaceutical company Hanmi, which made a major contribution in terms of know-how and experience gained from the implementation of its own RFID solution. Using RFID, Hanmi revolutionized its distribution system, which also enabled an expansion of the company in the US market. Its subsidiary Hanmi IT in particular had already gained relevant experience through the “Keidas” supply chain management system, which it had developed itself and which provided a basis for the Daewon pilot project. The software can record all production management operations – from the start of production, to packaging, shipment, goods reception, right through to the sale of products. All data for this is not stored locally but is kept available and up-to-date via a data cloud for all members at every point in the production and distribution chain.