We are often asked the question “should I use refills in my food safe detectable pens?” In this article we look at the pros and cons of using replacement factory pen inserts – you can then make your own decision!
First, why would anyone in the food or pharmaceutical supply chain consider using replacement detectable pen cartridges? Here are the 3 main reasons:
- Cost. By replacing only part of your detectable pen (ie the cartridge and insert), it seems logical for the cost to be cheaper. Whether you are incentivised on delivering cost savings or are feeling the pinch and looking to maximise your budget, there is a common assumption that replacing part, rather than all, of the factory pen will deliver savings.
- Reduce plastic usage. The use of plastic is a very emotive subject at present. Everyone is looking for ways to reduce their plastic usage and that’s not a bad thing. Using pen refills must mean you use less pen housings and as a result, less plastic?
- Increase the life of your factory pens. Some brands of detectable pen are prone to the plunger ‘pips’ snapping. Replacement detectable pen inserts allow you to replace the damaged component only. This further eliminates waste surely?
That all seems pretty logical business sense. So why wouldn’t you use replacement refills for your detectable pens?
- Refills are not cheaper! We’ve done our research – many brands which offer detectable pen refills use inferior quality cartridges. Some contain as little as 1km of ink – this is 10x less ink than the Retreeva Global best-selling retractable pen*! So, whilst the purchase price is less, they are also less economical. It makes most sense to buy a quality detectable pen with a higher capacity cartridge in the first instance.
- Increased foreign body contamination risk. Detectable pens designed to be taken apart (ie refills replaced) are more likely to lose small parts. This creates an additional, unnecessary foreign body contamination risk. If your pen contains a metal spring, this only makes the problem worse! Do you really want your factory operatives knowing their detectable pens come apart? However skilled and reliable your team, the risk is always going to be greater than a self-contained, retractable pen. There is also a significant risk of foreign matter entering the pen when the refill is removed.
- Reduced traceability and accountability. There is a sustained drive towards increasing traceability and accountability in the manufacturing process. Swopping pen refills undermines this – it is practically impossible to track all interchanged components.
- When should the pen housing be retired? If you are regularly replacing the ink cartridge, how do you know when to ‘retire’ the pen body? It is likely to become worn and marked with age. This creates a potential microbiological contamination risk when left in circulation too long.
Should I use replacement refills in my detectable pens?
So, maybe detectable pens with replaceable refills are not such a good idea as they first seem? We will leave you to decide, but at Retreeva Global we believe replacing pen inserts is a lose:lose situation. Not only do they cost you more, they also increase your foreign body contamination risk. That’s a risk we believe should be eliminated, which is why Retreeva Global do not advocate detectable pen refills,
*Best-selling RG-RSC retractable pen with standard ink cartridge.