Pharmaceutical Packaging Continues to Improve with NJM’s Mid-Century Machines
In 1950, as U.S. families moved into the suburbs, NJM Packaging was gearing up for its next 15 years of pharmaceutical packaging innovation and expertise. The future President of NJM had begun his tenure with the company, and NJM was gearing up to introduce two new packaging machines that would continue to improve the way pharmaceuticals and consumer goods were prepared for public consumption.
While Art Schaefer had yet to take the helm of NJM Packaging, which would happen in 1979, he began his career with NJM in 1946 as a sales engineer, fresh out of the Navy. From the beginning, he was committed to the pursuit of excellence, and he demonstrated that through his work with The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies (PMMI), which now administers the A.R. (Art) Schaefer scholarship in his memory. Mr. Schaefer would go on to become President of PMMI and remain active throughout his retirement. At NJM, Mr. Schaefer ascended to Customer Service Manager in 1951, and by 1965, he was elected Vice President of Sales.
Meanwhile, NJM was moving full speed ahead with improvements to pharmaceutical packaging technology. Label mix-ups was a serious problem for pharmaceutical companies, and NJM rose to the challenge in a collaboration with Pfizer/Wyeth. Cut and stack labels were leading to mix-ups, and NJM engineers recommended using roll labels, which meant the first and last labels were the same. These continuous labels prevented shuffling and misplaced labels, greatly reducing labeling errors. A pharmaceutical inspection system designed by NJM engineers was the “punch-hole system”, which provided technology making sure the correct label went on the correct bottle. This technology provided a sensor that looked for the label with the hole punched in a specific place on the label. If it did not find that hole, the line would stop. This procedure was developed prior to the use of bar codes.
NJM's first labeling machine was the Model 86M, which was a wet , cold glue labeler. Over the years this Model 86M was developed into a more advanced thermo sensitive labeler, which became a huge seller in the industry. These revolutionary “no wet glue” labelers applied thermo sensitive adhesive-coated paper labels, which were heated and applied to the bottle. This process eliminated air bubbles that would form under labels applied with glue. The Model 86 TORF, which was a roll fed machine was used in many different industries including the pharmaceutical industries.
Model 86 TORF
The high demand for labeling machines brought orders to NJM for mass production of these labelers at the Hoboken, NJ, plant.
NJM Hoboken Warehouse
The thermo sensitive equipment eventually evolved into automatic thermo sensitive labelers including the Model 160, Model 203 and the Model 350 Thorobred, which is still being used today.
The mid-century brought technological advancements and introduced key personnel that would propel NJM through the next decade and beyond, but it continues even further. Next month, we’ll recap how, as the miniskirt gained popularity, NJM built the plant used today in New Hampshire and then expanded into Canada . Read more about our 100-year history.