The start of a new era in bone cement

Assembly and packaging system

The start of a new era in bone cement

Heraeus Medical is pursuing ambitious goals. Based in Wehrheim near Frankfurt am Main, the company consistently advances the development of bone cement and has constructed a new building to do just that. Their new bone cement system, manufactured using an assembly and packaging system from Optima Automation, makes work simpler and safer.

Heraeus Medical, a subsidiary of the technological firm Heraeus, has been producing bone cement in Wehrheim for orthopedics for over 60 years. The new PALACOS® pro bone cement system is manufactured in a new 2,800 square meter building, where Heraeus Medical has invested 27 million euros. The building was ready in the summer of 2018.

PALACOS® represents the latest generation of bone cement systems and takes work in the OR to the next level. A prefilled, closed mixing and application system is a benefit for the operating room staff in all areas. It ensures clean, contact-free work and is faster to use than comparable products. This represents the beginning of a new era in the field of cemented endoprosthetics.

Various components
The various components of the bone cement set can be seen on the rear side of the unit.
Inconspicuous at the trade fair, proficient in projects

The first steps towards a collaboration with Optima Automation were taken at Achema 2015. Dr. Britta Baer, Head of Supply Chain at Heraeus Medical and her team made use of the trade fair to find a suitable partner for a one-off machine project. The assembly and packaging system for PALACOS® pro had to satisfy all technical requirements and provide the capacity required. Sales Director Sales at Optima Automation, Ottmar Schneider, was able to convince Dr. Baer and her team that Optima Automation was the right partner for this project. Schneider has since retired; Eugen Wanner has taken over from him.

Flexible reaction to product modifications

The result is special machine construction par excellence – Optima Automation helped to design the most sophisticated production line ever installed by Heraeus Medical. Optima Automation collaborated closely with the manufacturer of the thermoforming packaging machines and the packaging company. Dr. Baer says that Optima Automation has also proven itself a reliable turnkey partner and has responded to product modifications in a flexible manner. For example, the blister foil feed had to be re-routed around the corner because the product turned out to be bigger than planned. "Everyone's flexibility and equanimity was put to the test," Dr. Baer laughs.
Optima Automation carried out the following, virtually fully-automated production process: The first of the two thermoforming packaging machines produces the primary packaging blister.

The individual components are fed into this blister and inserted in the correct position. These include various snorkels, the knee pressurizer and the femoral seal. Other components in the set are manufactured on supplementary assembly modules and then are also inserted into the primary packaging. This includes tubular wraps with activated carbon filters and the actual applicator. The primary packaging blister is then fed to the second thermoforming packaging machine, where it is transferred to the secondary packaging blister. This makes it possible to have ten cycles per minute. After being packaged into individual shipping cartons and sterilized with ethylene dioxide, the bone cement sets are ready for sale.
Optima Automation
One of the first assembly steps that Optima Automation has automated is the winding of the tubes.
Activated carbon filters
The tubes are connected to the activated carbon filters.
Heraeus Medical makes gains in process safety

Automating the feeding process for all components has minimized operator intervention, significantly improving process safety. One format is used. However, the set's composition can be customized flexibly, such as the size of the cartridges and the number and filling volumes of the ampoules. The design printed on the blister foil can also be changed at any time.

"It only took two weeks to set up the huge system," Dr. Baer says. The final acceptance test at Heraeus Medical was successfully completed on schedule in July 2018.

Blister packaging
Inserting the components into the blister packaging is also performed by an Optima Automation machine.
Sealing film
The sealing film (left) is unwound and sealed onto the blister packs. Good products leave the system.
Bone cement sets
The fully loaded bone cement sets are taken out of the line and prepared to be shipped.
"The chemistry was just right"

Dr. Baer explains the reason for Heraeus Medical's decision to choose Optima Automation as a partner as, among other things, "the chemistry was just right". Another contribution to making the decision was a visit to Optima Automation in Fellbach, and the fact that Optima Automation is part of the Optima Group. "I knew that when dealing with Optima Group, you are working with a competent partner who has already installed many machines in the pharmaceutical sector," says Dr. Baer.


PALACOS® pro is revolutionizing the mixing and application of bone cement, as it is easier and safer to use than previous systems.

Regarding the project's progress, Dr. Baer stresses Optima Automation's positive cooperation with the thermoforming packaging machine manufacturer. Optima Automation also gave the machine operators at Heraeus Medical the best possible training in preparation for their future roles. The customer praises Optima Automation's flexibility throughout the project. For instance, sample parts were only available relatively late in the process. Optima Automation continued with the design and remained flexible when one of the feeder units had to be adapted at later stages.

The ongoing development of bone cement is far from over. Heraeus Medical is already developing a new system, which will go on to be manufactured in the new building on a production line supplied by Optima Automation. Here, Optima Automation will also be supplying the filling system for the bone cement. This is a result of effective cooperation, underlines Dr. Baer.

  • OPTIMA automation GmbH specializes in the development, design and manufacture of special machines and assembly and packaging systems for the medical sector, and became part of the Optima Group in 2016.

  • Optima Automation has rolled out an assembly and packaging line for the PALACOS® pro bone cement set for Heraeus Medical.

  • PALACOS® pro is revolutionizing the mixing and application of bone cement, as it is easier and safer to use than previous systems.

  • Higher process reliability by automated feeding of the components

  • As a result of Heraeus Medical's positive experience, Optima Automation has received a follow-up order for another, more extensive production line.

  With kind permission of Heraeus Medical.


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