Product packaging plays an integral role in the consumer experience, communicating everything from a product’s features and benefits to a company’s values. Packaging for food and pharmaceutical products is as important as the product itself. People rely on the information presented to them – allergen warnings, dosage guidelines, and storage instructions, for example – to care for themselves and for their loved ones. If the label’s content is inaccurate, the consequences are severe.
Accurate and effective labeling is something manufacturers can’t afford to mismanage. However, being error-free is a major challenge. More manufacturers than ever are distributing their products worldwide. When you consider the total labeling content a pharmaceutical company, for example, may collectively manage over the course of a year, the number is in the tens of millions. This is a significant amount of content to manage and ensure is error-free.
So how can manufacturers navigate the complexity of labeling, ensuring accuracy without compromising corporate performance metrics? Here are four strategies to apply when your labeling must be perfect.
Install Problem Detectors
With today’s technology, there is simply no excuse for not managing label and artwork management processes with precision and accuracy. Tools are available now to provide early warning signs when there are labeling issues or “weak spots.”
Manufacturers employ technology to route product labels and artwork among different teams responsible for label content. Internal and external stakeholders receive alerts when their review and input are required. Throughout the process, an auditable, electronic trail is created, establishing the parties who provided the input, the nature of the input, whether the input has been implemented, and by whom, etc.
Remove Opportunities for Error
In the end-to-end packaging process, there are plenty of opportunities for error. For instance, you might spend a considerable amount of time ensuring the right artwork and label are sent to the manufacturer. However, the manufacturer must still verify the accuracy. Relying on visual checks creates the potential for human error. Investing in technology, such as a scan to compare tool, enables the manufacturer to scan the label and compare it to the final approved artwork, which verifies the components match the product codes and increases accuracy.
Foster a “Right First Time” Culture
Artwork is often routed so frequently people don’t always know when they’re reviewing it for the last time. In this environment, it’s easy to review it quickly, thinking a once-over will suffice. It’s important to instill a mindset in your approvers that each time they see the artwork, it could be the last, and therefore their review needs to be accurate. To foster this mindset, reduce the expected number of revision rounds, enhance comment visibility, and heighten accountability.
Always Use Safety Nets
The truth is, people don’t work at 100% all day, every day. Every one of us has a day where we don’t “show up.” Perhaps we’re distracted by a personal issue, or we’re not feeling well. Smart manufacturers recognize this reality and make sure there are tools in place to safeguard the process:
Start the workflow with the last approved version of the artwork. In pre-media terms, this is referred to as a “pick-up.” By starting with something that’s already been routed, approved, and in the market, you’re reducing the number of approval cycles and the chance for error. You can also see prior approver comments and benefit from the learning.
Use graphic, text, and scan compare tools. Ideally, these tools work together to create a single audit trail that denotes every single deviation in text and graphics from one cycle to the next.
Graphic compare tools take artwork, pixelate it, and then present the user with a pixel-by-pixel comparison. These tools even flash errors to users so they can see where changes have been made. This is extremely helpful when there has only been a small change made to the artwork.
Text compare, on the other hand, is a content compare tool. Text compare tools can take a source document and compare it to an Illustrator file to identify differences. For example, this kind of tool can review a drug facts panel with the data on the artwork and alert the user to anything that is out of place such as a comma, a hyphen, or bolded text.
Finally, at the end of the workflow stream, you can verify the physical label matches the digital sample with scan compare tools. These tools reduce the risk that inaccurate labels ever make it to market.
Are you ready to improve your end-to-end label and artwork management processes? Download the e-book, Four Strategies to Apply When Your Labeling Can’t Fail, for a more in-depth look at these strategies and a no-fail labeling checklist.