- October 01, 2006, Edited by Claudia Hine Managing Editor
In response to ever-increasing consolidation in the pharmaceutical market, an alliance of package printers established Copapharm Europe in 1997. Formed to meet the demands of the healthcare industry, the organization has grown rapidly.
Today Copapharm Europe has ten member companies with 18 plants in nine countries and a total capacity of 6.5 billion units. It serves the world's premier brands including Alcon, GSK, Pfizer, Schering-Plough, Novartis, Johnson & Johnson, Baxter, Abbott Labs, Bayer, and Roche.
The alliance offers an extensive range of folding carton styles together with many other added-value processes such as hot foil stamping, windowed cartons, internal fitments and divisions, lined cartons, microflute and corrugated laminations, Braille, holograms, and security features. Additionally, a number of member companies produce pharmaceutical labels and leaflets.
The Mission: Accuracy & Traceability
The need for accuracy and continuity is a priority for the converting alliance and the companies it serves. In fact, security and traceability of data transfer prior to print is vitally important in the worldwide pharmaceutical industry, as one small error can lead to life-threatening misinformation.
In the mid-1990s, as prepress data started being transferred digitally, the incoming data often was corrupted, making it unsuitable for package production. To complicate matters, the pharmaceutical industry doesn't allow any changes in files received by the package printer, so the files have to be reworked and resent. Accuracy and traceability are challenging, especially when packaging has gone through several changes or developments.
To deliver on its commitment to quality, Copapharm established the following requirements in its pharmaceutical prepress packaging workflow:
- Security (secure data process)
- Traceability (of all processes)
- Quality assurance (preflighting)
- Avoidance of error sources due to increased automation.
Copapharm's goal was to have this new prepress workflow technology in use at all of its production sites throughout Europe by the end of this year.
To deliver on this commitment, member companies implemented Artwork Systems' PA:CT Packaging Certified Technology.
According to Sylvia Wieloch, Copapharm marketing and sales coordinator, “Copapharm believes that Artwork Systems' PA:CT Packaging Certified Technology is the ideal base for a digital qualified control system. Everyone in the workflow chain benefits from the technology, and this further improves the relationship between data creator, customer, and printer.”
PA:CT, which is based on “Certified PDF” technology from Enfocus (an Artwork Systems brand) is said to offer simple data handling, an overview of document history, high data integrity, the use of certified (controlled) profiles, and “good-for-printing” PDF files that can be used for production.
Potential errors that could cause a halt in the production process reportedly can be avoided with this technology. In addition to the preflight function, the traceability of the whole document history is said to be assured.
The package printer requires PA:CT and the artwork creator needs “PitStop” or “Instant PDF” software provided by Enfocus, as well as trained personnel and clearly defined processes among the partners to obtain a workflow with complete security and traceability. PDFs created in this way will be “print-ready.”
Getting a PDF that has been certified and preflighted with an agreed standard profile is said to guarantee the quality required for printing. For the data receiver, a cost-free plug-in from Enfocus called “StatusCheck” is necessary to decide whether or not a PDF can be used for production.
Implementation & Validation
Copapharm Europe first learned about PA:CT after Thomas Wahl, a system administrator and prepress specialist at member company August Faller, attended a presentation given by Artwork Systems. Wahl liked what he saw and decided to organize a technical meeting with the other member companies. At the meeting, Wahl presented the technology and discussed its implementation and the benefits Faller expected.
Standards were a major topic at the meeting. According to Wieloch, Copapharm Europe first considered use of PDF/X as the standard, but the extended functions and the benefits of Certified PDF and PA:CT, combined with the fact that most of the members already were using Artwork Systems' products in prepress production, made the decision to implement PA:CT an easy one.
Copapharm Europe and Artwork Systems worked out a multi-phase implementation plan. The first step was to define the internal setup and guidelines and to get started with a limited number of customers. This was initiated by the August Faller plant in Waldkirch, Germany.
After thorough investigation and analysis, the second phase was executed, and results were outlined and distributed to other production plants. The number of customer-users in the project then was expanded.
In six weeks, the PA:CT project was completed, the operators were trained, and the workflows were adapted.
Other member companies have been installing PA:CT for validation periods during the past 18 months. Across the group, most companies have or are implementing the system.
Says Wahl, “With this sophisticated technology, suppliers and brand owners can now optimize and secure the whole prepress process. PA:CT has broken down the boundaries between design and production, and the workflow can be controlled and is consistent. PA:CT provides complete traceability through the whole process, from design to print including prepress. It is a key component in the complex pharmaceutical workflow.”
Faller already has noticed an increase in the level of productivity and security. Says Wahl, “We had far less problems with the files that our customers delivered, resulting in shorter production time. For the brand owners, this means that their product is faster on the market.
“Additionally, due to the traceability provided by PA:CT, we were able to detect how errors could occur in production. This was extremely helpful to define and optimize the workflows in our prepress department and to avoid errors and mistakes.”
The first Faller customer that switched to Certified PDF was Baxter AG in Vienna, Austria. The main reason to switch was to provide a solution for the different font problems encountered in the original design files. Now the process reportedly has become secure, predictable, and faster, without errors.
Baxter's Robert Plaschka remarks, “The ‘ready for press’ process was done much faster and more securely since Faller proposed that we use Certified PDF technology.”August Faller KG
|Copapharm Europe Alliance Members|
|Palladio Industrie Grafiche Cartotecniche||Italy||palladino.it|
|Storey Evans & Co.||Great Britain||storeyevans.co.uk|
The benefits experienced at Faller are indicative of why PA:CT's secure workflow technology is already proving popular with Copapharm customers all over Europe.
Avenue des Arts 52, B-1000
+ 32 2 551 59 41; copapharm.com
Artwork Systems —PFFC-ASAP 301. artwork-systems.com
Enfocus Software —PFFC-ASAP 302. enfocus.com