Safety and compliance must be top of mind for manufacturers in regulated industries, and no more so than in the labelling and artwork displayed on their products and packaging
At the same time, the goalposts are constantly shifting to meet the latest safety and compliance requirements in highly regulated industries – think the EU Medical Device Regulation (MDR) and In Vitro Diagnostic Regulation (IVDR) which are both dominating the medical industry right now. Other industries also face similar pressures on labelling accuracy such as food and beverage, cosmetics and chemical manufacturing.
Labelling and artwork under the spotlight
More and more manufacturers in regulated industries are choosing to move towards cloud-based automated solutions to manage their labels and artwork through a central platform. But a shift to a new system doesn’t come without complexities and potential pitfalls – particularly during the migration period of an implementation.
The migration phase of a new implementation can cause a certain degree of fear for manufacturers. This can be due to discovering the sheer scale and complexity of the task at hand – which may often extend to include thousands of products manufactured across tens of countries. This fear is also compounded by the potential cost of getting an implementation wrong – incorrect labelling can hold up production and shipping, but worse still, can trigger the need to recall a product after distribution.
Here are three key focus areas for manufacturers in highly regulated industries to prioritise during migration projects:
1. Data clean-up – hunt it down and clean it out
Simply identifying and discovering all existing labelling and artwork data is often the most difficult part of any migration process. When it comes to migrating data into a new system, manufacturers often have different databases that are stored in various locations bringing in potential inconsistencies around formatting, language and other local requirements. Data can also be held in different systems because of varying product lines and different units of a business might have their own legacy approaches to handling data and labels.
This means that trying to get that information is often extremely difficult and can take longer than anticipated. Rather than waiting to sign a contract for a new labelling or artwork management system, the manufacturer should already be trying to track down and gather data ahead of project start. Once the data has been collated then it becomes a case of working with the software supplier to cleanse inaccuracies or repetition to ensure incorrect or outdated information is not fed into the new system.
2. It’s an opportunity to make smart label and artwork improvements
Given all labels and artwork are now being fed into a new system, this presents a perfect opportunity to improve or amend outdated labels going forward to make label and artwork management smarter. This can also extend to overhauling and standardising labels to meet compliance requirements or to introduce artwork uniformity across a product set.
Where possible, common layouts and templates can be used to help introduce this standardisation. In the case of technical labels, labels can be generated completely automatically with the right solution – once the relevant components are chosen, the software will create the label using pre-defined templates and alert the relevant approvers within an organisation, as well as centrally manage all version control. New labels and artwork can be created in seconds, instead of weeks.
3. AI provides a helping hand to bring migration together
Looking to the future, Artificial Intelligence is coming to the fore to help migrate data and manage labelling systems. AI can actually be used to extract data from existing labels, removing much of the burden on the manufacturer who would have to piece together all this information manually or through disparate systems in every business unit or geographic site.
A next-gen labelling and artwork management platform, such as Veraciti™, includes a tool that can scan a label for its content and then processes it in a way that identifies where there are commonalities to standardise and cleanse automatically. Such AI tools are also capable of loading labels and migrating into the labelling and artwork management system even quicker than ever before and to a higher level of quality – because there’s less human intervention needed throughout the process.
Turning migration into a strategic enabler
Migrating to a new management system can be a frustrating and complicated process. But with the right tools and expertise behind it, a migration project can be improved from an accuracy, standardisation and time standpoint. No longer does migration need to be seen as a challenge – it can now be the springboard to a smarter, safer and software-driven approach to labelling and artwork management.
About the Author
Beth Peckover is Vice President of Operations at Kallik. Kallik provides regulated industries with a definitive, end-to-end artwork and labeling management platform they can trust. Our AWS cloud-based artwork and labeling platform, Veraciti™, enables compliance and delivers supply chain efficiency for all the artwork and content assets that make up product packaging, labeling and instructions for use (IFUs). From barcodes to safety symbols and text, Veraciti manages any format, in any territory, on any material and via any channel – with complete reliability and traceability.
Featured image: ©Issaronow