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Pharmaceutical Manufacturing and Packing Sourcer

Automatic Art

Neil Gleghorn at Kallik looks into streamlining the packaging production process with reference to the automation of package labelling

The pharmaceutical industry depends on many automated process-control and quality-assurance systems to ensure that batch production is carried out repeatedly, reliably and accurately. Yet it’s amazing to see how little automation and control is applied when it comes to manufacturing the artwork required to produce product labels. This article asseses the role of automated artwork generation systems, and examines the quality, speed and cost reductions that can be achieved.

In my experience there is a common theme to most labelling issues; we are starting to acknowledge not only the importance of an efficient labelling process, but also realising that the automated artwork generation solutions now being deployed by companies such as Unilever, can facilitate a significant improvement in process, reliability, cycle time and cost.

Over the years, manufacturing processes have dramatically improved; wastage is down and efficiency is up, all whilst delivering quality levels that would have seemed impossible not so many years ago. In this environment, if there was a manufacturing process in your business that was critical to shipping, warehousing, usage and marketing, and was the cause of many FDA product recalls, then I’m sure it would have some significant attention. This is the artwork process.

So why is it that when it comes to artwork, the industry accepts a production process that on average rejects over 75 per cent of the output?

And this is no exaggeration. Ask the question of your business, “When we circulate an artwork proof for approval, how often is it approved the first time?” I would not be surprised if you found the answer to be never. In fact, my perception is that the average number of rework cycles is around three. The worst I ever found was seventeen! Just think about this for a minute: your business knows what to put on the label, you brief your supplier, they provide a proof, and you then ask for changes. Now repeat this process three times – it’s hardly efficient.


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Neil Gleghorn has spent his entire career in the printing, design and related software industry. His experience has spanned a wide range of functions, including process and change management, technical sales and senior management positions. Neil has established several successful businesses and been involved in an MBO of a business. In 2001, Neil established Kallik, a software development organisation providing solutions for the creation and management of artworks. During this period he established both a UK and offshore development team and established the roadmap for a solution to automate artwork production process. Neil’s unique mix of technical and domain knowledge has brought several engagements with companies requiring assistance in process and change management control.
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Neil Gleghorn
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