Cartoon pamphlet, bottles, barcode and jar

Business owners and manufacturers know that flawed packages carry a negative message for their brands. An imperfect package is an imperfect business, especially living in a world with customers that have lofty expectations. A simple crooked label can transform people’s views of your brand and possibly change their purchasing decision forever.

Companies around the world place great value on packaging inspection. These quality control regimes must be set in motion in order to spot and reject printing errors, wrinkled labels, or crooked caps before they see the light of day.

Given the fast-paced packaging and manufacturing environment we live in, machine vision systems are the ultimate tools that will quickly pay for themselves by decreasing your business’ labor costs while also reducing liability due to complete recalls. More importantly, they are unflagging, communicative solutions that can adapt immediately to changing inspection parameters.

What makes vision systems so effective is their integration of lighting, camera, and imaging processing software that allows them to “see” products and inspect them for flaws – all done at high-speed, with near-perfect accuracy. The brain of this solution is the analytic software in charge of processing what the camera captures, comparing it to the stored “ideal” images.

Today’s machine vision technology is so advanced that these solutions can quickly and accurately tally every item, contrast them with ideal images, point to printing errors, and verify barcodes in a matter of seconds. However, one of the biggest benefits provided by these systems is user isolation. Users don’t need to understand its complex algorithms in order to use them. Through their HMI (human-machine interface), users just have to choose their inspection target, set the parameters, and press “Go”.

Building a strong brand identity through packaging

Complete Packaging Inspection

Besides letting you inspect packaging and products more easily, modern machine vision systems can also proof and verify barcodes, alphanumeric codes, and data matrix images. If you need it, these systems will also check the quality of incoming materials and ensure all steps and processes are done correctly. They can even take care of the quality of your pallet loads before shipping them to a customer. Therefore, because of this complete integration, your whole packaging line will be optimized.

In addition to the increase in inspection accuracy, which will boost your presence in the market, vision inspection software can communicate with your business’ computer system and update your production, inventory, and maintenance records. It also provides reports on total flaws detected. So, if these are higher than your threshold, it will shut down your entire production line until you make the necessary adjustments.

Of course, this level of efficiency in packaging automation varies depending on your needs and the amount of money you wish to invest. The market is filled with different systems that offer a wide arrange of features, from the described above to mere label inspections or barcode reading from the run sheet of the day. The best part is that the majority of them are quite adaptive; You can accommodate them to new products that require new camera positions or conveyor speeds.

Key Advantages

User-Friendly

Most, once installed, are very easy to use and require minimal maintenance.

Tech Support

Reputable machine vision providers usually offer training programs for operators and ensure technical support in case anything goes wrong.

Market Diversity

The current vision market provides a wide range of alternatives, meaning you can choose whichever best fits your needs.

Adaptability

Less-sophisticated solutions do not offer the ability to automate inspection changeovers, but modern high-tech systems can. So, if you run a diverse packaging line with a large variety of products, you can rest assured that you won’t be losing time doing manual changes every time a new product comes along.

The cost of Machine Vision Inspection

Like any new technology, especially when it comes to machine vision software, a certain initial investment is required. The actual amount depends on many elements, the main one being system complexity. This includes the total number of lights and cameras, the type of lenses, and many other parts like servo motors and conveyors that allow for system adjustment to different targets, shapes, and sizes.

However, keep in mind that with any new investment, the words “cost” and “value” don’t mean the same thing. Focusing only on the financial expense of these systems will skew your assessment. Any prospective buyer of vision systems needs to weigh in a variety of factors:

● What are the system’s benefits/ features?
● Will the investment include the mounting brackets or electrical cabinets?
● Will I have to rearrange my entire production line?
● Does the software allow for simple in-house modifications in case any new product has to be checked?
● Do I get technical support from the manufacturer?

Add everything up and you’ll get the rough amount you need to spend. Now it’s time to include the prospective savings into the equation:

● Will I have to reduce the number of inspectors and operators?
● If so, will I reassign them to other areas?
● How much will automated packaging inspection boost my productivity?

And, most importantly, but often ignored:

● What will be my company’s financial value be if I get rid of customer complaints and complete recalls due to packaging mislabeling?

One word of advice before you make any decision: Erase any preconceived ideas from your mind. High technology is no longer a luxury that only big companies can obtain. Machine vision software has evolved and the market is full of different choices, making packaging automation a gold standard and sophisticated practice available for small and medium companies alike.

Return on Investment

Due to the market’s wide diversification, prospective buyers now have a lot to evaluate. Every company considering crossing over to machine vision inspection should contemplate not just the capacity of the equipment, but also the overall completeness of the power supply along with its capability to adapt to new products and materials.

In addition, these systems typically provide quick ROIs, mostly because you’ll cut down on staff for manual inspection, not to mention all the savings related to fewer product recalls and fines from delivering flawed products.

Cutting down on staff is a tangible action. Therefore, you’ll get immediate results on your ROI. Decreasing fines and complete recalls are a lot harder to estimate accurately because the incidence of these events usually varies depending on the company, though. As a result, they usually are not considered at all when calculating the ROI for a vision system. In spite of this, always keep in mind that, in the long run, these intangible forces can positively enhance your brand’s reputation and boost your profits.

illustration showing laptop with process of folders

Looking Ahead

In the future, machine vision will probably advance in several areas. The market continues to grow and it’s expected to become a $14-billion industry by 2022. Current trends are drifting towards cost-efficient solutions suitable for all types of companies, but especially for packaging inspection. Advances will include, among others, a boost in system flexibility, an increase in smart technology, and greater software and hardware alternatives.

Just a few years ago we saw how smart cameras began to challenge PC-based vision systems by getting rid of the need for a separate processor. Although they’ve been available for over 20 years, they only just recently became small and affordable enough to justify an investment.

The quality of image sensors is getting better every year too. So, camera manufacturers are spending less time dealing with these types of defects and more on image processing. With the rise of complementary metal-oxide-semiconductors (CMOS), image sensors are also getting smaller, leaving room for developing further processing features, like color-processing, digital zoom, image enhancement, rotation, and much more.

With such high levels of integration and processing capacity, this all-in-one technology was once the emerging trend, but now has started to dominate in the market. We are likely to witness more evolution of smart technology in the years to come.

When it comes to the packaging industry, advances in user-friendliness are likely to simplify the set-up and usage of these systems even more. Ease of use will no longer imply a point-and-click graphical user interface, but a comprehensive approach with access to all features.

Less training will be needed and people with very different skill sets will be working with these machines, eliminating the need for time-consuming and pricey training programs.

Although prospective users might want to wait for what the future holds, the current vision technology developments mentioned throughout this article imply that the future is now. It’s an exciting time, and one for manufacturers and packaging companies to jump on board with packaging inspection automation.

Print Inspection for Packaging

GlobalVision also has a wide range of packaging scanners available to suit different packaging line needs. They include non-contact scanners for wet-ink press sheets to cylindrical scanners for cans, jars, bottles, and any other type of cylindrical container. Above all else, GlobalVision offers its Print Inspection tool, which allows for easy comparison of printed packaging vs. approved digital artwork. This tool is the perfect solution to avoid reprints and reworks of any kind, due to printing errors like blemishes, smudges, and unwanted marks in general.


Learn More about Quality Management System

Sample of GlobalVision Barcode Inspection with Grade Level

The use of barcodes dates back to the early 1960’s, initially deployed within the automotive and railroad industry. In the early 1970’s they were implemented within the retail industry, mainly in grocery stores.

The 1980’s marked the period of barcode rules and regulations establishment and they officially became a necessity in all industries. Since then, barcodes have become much more advanced.

What Is a Barcode?

A barcode is an optical, machine-readable, and graphically presented image of a set of product related data.

The standards, the types, and symbologies of barcodes are defined by the International Standards Organization (ISO).

Major industries have a defined set of standards for barcodes. For uncommon industries, which still don’t have defined standards, there are different symbologies to choose from. The choice will depend on the barcode purpose and amount of data that it should contain.

A barcode may contain small to large amounts of data, mapped by basic computer programming languages such as COBOL, QBasic, and Fortran.

The size of the data a barcode can contain depends on the type and the symbology of a barcode. More about that will be mentioned further into the guide.

Generating Barcodes

There are a number of ways to generate barcodes. The way a barcode is produced and printed will largely depend on the available resources of a company and the purpose of the barcodes.

A company may choose to encode and generate their own barcodes,but this requires advanced programming knowledge, advanced software and in-house developer.

There is a great online technical in-depth barcode guide with all of the advanced technical information for businesses that choose to create their own barcodes.

Barcode, braille inspection in GlobalVision 5.7

Barcode applications vary accordingly to different variables, such as:
● Industry specifics
● Amount of data being encoded
● Purpose of the barcode
● Printing methods

Other ways for generating and printing barcodes are:
• Specialized licensed software for creating and printing barcodes (comprehensive solution for companies that require high-quality barcodes, barcodes with large amounts of data, industries with strict rules and regulations)
• Free barcode generators (a good option only if the required barcodes have basic requirements)
• All-in-one software for creating and verifying barcodes and labels (best solution for companies looking to automate packaging quality control process, increase time efficiency, reduce errors and risk)

Verifying Barcodes

The verification or inspection of barcodes is carried out through specialized barcode inspection software. This type of software either comes in the form of device-specific barcode verifiers or online barcode verifiers. It’s important to remember that a barcode verifier must comply with the ISO/IEC 15426-1 packaging quality control standards.

Barcode Printing

The way a barcode is printed will depend on the way a barcode is generated and also on the purpose of the barcode.

Some businesses will require barcodes to be internet-compatible.

So, as well as being able to print error-free barcodes, which are physically readable by scanners, barcodes should also be server-compliant, web-page and web-application compatible, compatible with mobile devices, and of high-quality resolution.

Some of the most common barcode printing methods in a trading process are:
Printing labels with barcodes
• Printing the barcode with the label artwork directly onto the packaging
• Printing directly onto packaging during the packaging process

Barcode Industry Standards

Below are the established barcode standards for the most-common large industries. These standards define the way barcode readers and barcode verifiers scan, read, and test a barcode and are crucial in the process of generating barcodes.

INDUSTRYPURPOSEBARCODE STANDARDS
Pharmaceutical & HealthcareBlood banks, laboratories,
healthcare products, etc.
ABC Codabar
ISBT 128
RetailLabelling and selling consumer
goods worldwide
EAN and UPC
GTIN and GS1
Supply Chain, LogisticsShipping goodsSCC-14
EAN-14
AutomotiveAll productsAIAG
Defense and GovernmentEncoding large amounts of
sensitive data
DOD UID
LOGMARS
MIL-STD-130
Mail and PostingMail routing and trackingPOSTNET
USPS
Press and BooksBook and magazines serial numbersISBN
ISSN
Bookland

Barcode Types and Symbologies

It’s important to note that a barcode standard doesn’t necessarily have to match the barcode symbology and type when choosing the best barcode for a product.

However, if there is an established standard for a barcode type and symbology a certain business belongs to, then only that barcode can be used. A choice isn’t available.

The main types of barcodes are 1D (1-dimensional) or Linear Barcodes and 2D (2-dimensional) barcodes, which can contain much more data than the former. Both have subtypes.

Additional types such as the QR Code and PDS417, are the newest and most advanced types and look different to the general form of barcodes. They’re also known as data matrixes.

The table below covers the most common industry specific barcode types and symbologies:

Industry Barcode TypeSymbologySymbology VariationsSymbology Types
Pharmaceutical
& Healthcare
1D1DCodabarGS1 DataBarCodeabar, Ames Code, NW-7, Monarch, Code 2 of 7, Rationalized Codabar, ANSI/AIM BC3-1995, USD-4GS1 DataBar Omnidirectional, Truncated, Stacked, Stacked-Omnidirectional, Expanded, Expanded Stacked, Coupon Code, LimitedRationalized Codabar
USD-4
NW-7
2 of 7 Code
Retail1D2DUPCEANCODE 93GS1 DataBarMSI PLESSEYQR CODEDataMatrixUPC-a,
UPC-eEAN-13
EAN-8CODE 39GS1 DataBar Omnidirectional, Truncated, Stacked, Stacked-Omnidirectional, Expanded, Expanded Stacked, Coupon Code, Limited
UPC
UCC12ISBN
ISSN
Bookland
JANHIBC LIC
LOGMARS
MIL-STD-1189B
MIL-STD-129
MIL-STD-2073-1C
MIL-STD-129NMSI Code
Pulse Width Modulated Barcode
Supply Chain, Logistics1DCODE 128CODE 93CodabarCODE 39Codeabar, Ames Code, NW-7, Monarch, Code 2 of 7, Rationalized Codabar, ANSI/AIM BC3-1995, USD-4CANADA POST
USPS
ISBT 128
USS Code 128
ISS Code 128HIBC LIC
LOGMARS
MIL-STD-1189B
MIL-STD-129
MIL-STD-2073-1C
MIL-STD-129NRationalized Codabar
USD-4
NW-7
2 of 7 Code
Automotive1D2DCODE 93PDF417CODE 39PDF417-TruncatedHIBC LIC
LOGMARS
MIL-STD-1189B
MIL-STD-129
MIL-STD-2073-1C
MIL-STD-129N
Defense and Government1D2D2D MatrixCODE 93PDF417DataMatrixCODE 39PDF417-TruncatedMicro-DataMatrixHIBC LIC
LOGMARS
MIL-STD-1189B
MIL-STD-129
MIL-STD-2073-1C
MIL-STD-129N
Mail and Posting1DUSPS IMbPOSTNETPLANET 4-State Customer Barcode
4CB or 4-CB
OneCode Solution Barcode
USPS4CBZip
Zip + 4
DPBCUSPS CONFIRM
Press and Books1DEAN-13 ISBN
ISSN
Bookland
Packaging1DITFInterleaved 2 of 5ITF-14
EAN-14
SCC-14
GTIN
DUN14
USPS
Transportation2D MatrixAZTEC  
Entertainment2D MatrixQR CODE  
Advertising2D MatrixQR CODE  
Electronics2D MatrixDataMatrixMicro-DataMatrix 

How to choose the best barcode?

Some of the most common concerns many businesses face is the space available for a barcode on a product label and the accuracy of a barcode, so that the risks of time and money loss are a minimized.

The most efficient barcodes, in terms of area coverage and error reduction, are:

– DataMatrix
– UPC
– Code 128
– Code 39
– PDF417

As mentioned at the beginning, the best barcode is the one defined within the industry, which has established a set of standards for creating and reading barcode types and symbologies.

However, if a company doesn’t belong to one of these industries then the barcode can be chosen depending on the purpose, amount of data to be encoded, and the printing method being used.


GlobalVision is the leading developer of proofreading technologies for retail and consumer packaged goods. Learn how GlobalVision has helped Consumer Goods companies of all sizes in quality control.

Request a free trial for GlobalVision Digital Inspection Solution


Learn More about How to Manage Barcodes in Packaging Quality Control

Text inspection on globalvision on cartoon background
 

 

What’s at stake with a product misspelling? For any other type of business, it would mean a complete recall – costly, but maybe otherwise harmless– but, when it comes to the pharma industry, a whole other set of issues could present themselves.

Setting aside the financial costs of a recall and the time you have to lose by fixing these issues, we have to keep in mind the obvious: Patients rely on their prescriptions to help them maintain their health. Errors in pharma labeling can be devastating because they lead to drug misuse and the appearance of potentially lethal consequences.

So, what might be an unfortunate and mild inconvenience for almost any other type of company, becomes a major, life-threatening issue for a pharmaceutical one. The risk placed on people’s lives, the money and time you have to consume, and the damage to your company’s image and reputation makes pharma labeling a process that must be undertaken with extra care and meticulous attention to detail. Sadly, however, misspellings in the pharma industry continue to happen time and again.

Why does a process that’s supposed to be highly technical and scrupulous keep encountering problems with labeling issues? It’s hard to pinpoint a single reason, mainly because medical packaging methods and techniques are different for every company. Let’s stop to analyze some common causes of medical and pharmaceutical spelling errors and what can we do to eradicate them.

Medical Terms Are Difficult to Understand

For the average person, medical terminology can be like an alien language. Most medical terms have their roots in Latin or Greek, which can make them hard to decipher. We also have to keep in mind that medical terms can often sound alike but have different meanings.

Old lady reading pill labels with the pharmacist

Differentiating between the two is simple for a doctor, but almost everybody else cannot, making them difficult to understand. Pharma terms are completely different, as they often don’t relate to anything even an experienced doctor has ever heard of. Names of drugs are harder to get right because most of the time they might not even make any sense to the casual observer.

The truth is there is a lot of time and money spent on the branding process of a drug. The name has to be sexy and appealing, while also remaining original and not too similar to the names of other drugs.

Take “Lamictal” and “Lamisil”. The former is an anticonvulsant used to treat seizures in adults and children and also helps delay mood episodes in adults with bipolar disorder, while the latter is used to treat fungal infections. Just think of the consequences of what would happen if someone were to confuse the two drugs.

One of the main reasons why the Food and Drug Administration rejects drug names is because of name similarity. The aim is to prevent doctors and pharmacists from confusing the names and administering the wrong drugs.

In spite of these efforts, generic drug names can also be quite similar to each other. It’s easy to mix up names like “tramadol”, “trazodone”, and “toradol”, “acetohexamide” and “acetazolamide”, or even “cycloserine” and “cyclosporine”. This is especially true if companies use manual quality control methods. But the main reason spelling mistakes in the pharma industry are so common is due to the fact that regular people don’t use these words on a daily basis.

Manual vs. Automated Spell Checks

Many growing businesses today face an important question: Should you hire more people or should you automate your packing operation? While current studies lean towards automated technology, both this and manual methods have their own disadvantages.

When it comes to reducing costs, manual processing might seem cheaper than investing in automated technology. Of course, you have to remember humans are prone to making mistakes. So, adding extra workers into your process also means increasing the likelihood of errors.

Statistics show that over 80% of process deviations in the pharmaceutical business are caused by human error, so investing in automation is actually a great way to reduce the cost of recalls and fines due to labeling mistakes. In a manual process, labels usually go through several sets of eyes before being approved. It’s reassuring to know that 6, 8, or even 10 people proofread something before sending it to printing, right? Not quite.

Team collaboration on the product packaging layout, design, and content

Think of it this way: The first person may quickly look it over, knowing there are many people left in the process to catch any mistakes, then the second person will think,

“Oh, I’m sure it’s fine; The last person didn’t find anything and, if I’m wrong, there’s still a lot of people left to review it.”

When the product reaches the last person, they may not feel comfortable contradicting all the previous proofreaders and, so, if they spot a mistake, instead of flagging it they could be more inclined to think,

“Maybe it’s meant to be like that?”

Cynical? Perhaps, but that’s how simple spelling errors can go unnoticed or even ignored all the way to drugstore counters. It’s up to manufacturers to develop systems that can detect these types of errors and make sure your product is up to standard.

Simple actions, like providing clear instructions, maintaining good communications, and ensuring your employees have all the qualifications needed for the job, can definitely save you from a lot of trouble.

However, don’t let yourself fall into a false sense of security if your company uses automated technologies like medical spell checkers; Most medical dictionaries have their own challenges to overcome. In the end, it’s fair to say the main reason packaging and quality control methods seem to fail is not a matter of the type of process you implement rather than how you set it into motion.

The Medical Spell-Checker and Pharma Dictionary

Big companies with high proofreading demands can benefit from using automated spell check tools. These programs are able to catch errors so quickly that proofreading a text might end up being unnecessary; why do it yourself if a machine can do it for you?

The truth of the matter is that getting the right spelling tool for your company can be a difficult task, especially if you’re in the pharmaceutical business. In the current market, there are plenty of options for word-processor programs that include pharma and medical dictionaries, like Stedman’s Medical Dictionary, yet many of these automated tools are far from perfect. Most of them still need to overcome many challenges in order to truly save time for companies.

In a world where medical technology is always moving forward, new treatment alternatives are being developed every single day. That’s why it is so disheartening to learn that new drugs and medical terms represent a big problem for these programs. While spell-check tools will automatically correct any mistyped letters for common words, new medical words and pharma terms can easily be overlooked if they’re not incorporated into the medical dictionary of the program.

Imagine you are tasked with dealing with a brand-new drug that is just about to go to market. These types of programs will not guarantee you proper spelling because they simply won’t know the drug’s correct name. This is the reason why customized pharma dictionaries are so important when it comes to medical packaging.

The GlobalVision Spelling Inspection Tool

With over half a million technical terms, drug names, ingredients, and medical terminology included, GlobalVision’s unique spelling inspection software is proven to be the best of its kind on the market right now.

illustration showing Arabic Chinese and other languages on a global vision software

The best thing about GV’s spelling tool vs other alternatives is that it was created thinking of the medical packaging industry, integrating thousands of highly technical and commonly used terms so that you can make sure your ingredient lists, components, excipients, dosages, or any other info is 100% accurate and correctly spelled.

Its customized pharma dictionary allows you to build your own library and includes unique terms for your organization, like your brand name or newly developed products. This is an incredibly valuable feature, created to accommodate the latest pharma and medical terms and prevent misspellings related to new medical treatments. If your company provides packaging for other countries, the GlobalVision spelling inspection tool can also check the spelling of foreign language words, including:

Bulgarian
Catalan
Croatian
Czech
English
French
German
Greek
Hungarian
Latvian
Lithuanian
Polish
Portuguese
Russian
Spanish
Swedish 

If you value true flexibility, the Spelling Inspection tool is perfect for you. It allows you to perform complete spell-checks of your text in many formats, including Adobe® Illustrator®, PDFs, Microsoft® Word®, and web sites. The Spelling Inspection Report is also a unique feature included in this program. It generates a report every time you finish doing an inspection of your work, helping you track your progress and send the final product up for approval.

Conclusion

Millions of people rely on pharmaceutical companies to receive the right treatment. With all the methods and technology available today, there is no excuse for misspellings in the 21st-century medical packaging industry. Although labeling errors will most likely keep appearing in the near future, these companies must always strive for perfection by remaining up to speed with current packaging quality control services, making GlobalVision Spelling Inspection software not just one of the best, but one of the only choices they can make.


GlobalVision is the leading developer of quality control technologies for retail and pharmaceutical packaged goods.

See for yourself why Simon Lacroix, Quality Control technician at CCL Label, called GlobalVision

“One-hundred percent effective.”

→  Check out our Customer Story on CCL Label

 


Learn more about manual proofreading errors

 

Big Pharma and the Military Have a Lot in Common

The pharmaceutical and defense sectors may be at opposite extremes. There is still something to be said in the former for the built-in fail-safes and redundancies that go hand in hand with any product that even hopes to meet military standards.

Military Standard vs. Specification

The cover page of the Defense Standards Format and Content

There’s even an official term for it: MIL-STD for, you guessed it, military standard. At times mistaken for MIL-SPEC, for military specification, MIL-STD is related to the former, but actually something else altogether. Military specifications refer to a given product’s characteristics, so something that meets military specifications is good to go.

Military standards in a sense go deeper, referring to the processes and materials that went into manufacturing that product. One leads to the other. To illustrate just how large a list of such standards can get, MIL-STD-962D, for one example, covers standards pertaining to well, documenting military standards… for everything ranging from design criteria to manufacturing processes.

You won’t find anything in there about writing Department of Defense handbooks, though. All that’s covered in MIL-STD-967. Seriously. All that to say, that discrepancy in definitions between military standards and specifications is what establishes common ground between defense and pharma. A product manufactured by a pharmaceutical industry can in theory meet military specifications, but it’s how it’s manufactured that is of most interest here.

Reliability Above All Else

Researchers comparing medicine packages

You’re ultimately looking for products that are reliable. Reliable translates to “repeatable,” which can only be guaranteed to a mathematically acceptable degree through proper testing. Needless to say, proper testing is one of the pillars of success within the pharmaceutical industry, one in which customers’ health and safety is consistently at stake. In the interest of full disclosure, it’s not as if pharmaceutical companies absolutely need to follow MIL-STD. GAMP, or Good Automated Manufacturing Practice, already exists, having been founded in 1991. That would be pharma’s own set of guidelines for manufacturers and users of automated systems. GAMP5, released in 2008 by the International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering, is now in place as the last major revision.

Quality management procedures like Six Sigma help to further ensure errors and waste are kept to a minimum. That just further proves the point. It becomes abundantly clear how the same principle holds true across the board. There’s an overriding need for a high-quality standard throughout the supply chain. That extends to the packaging that finds its way into the hands of customers, packaging that is an extension, in its own right, of the company’s brand. Any mistakes on a carton at best reflects poorly on a firm. At worst, if there’s a typo that misrepresents the dosage, it could be fatal.

The Highest Quality (Control) Standards

New Technologies Every Pharmaceutical Packaging Company Should Consider

Automated proofing is the best way to protect against errors on packaging. Rest assured, any piece of software on the market has more likely than not undergone more of the same rigorous testing to help guarantee the highest quality standards. After all, that piece of software is ultimately just another product, albeit belonging to a separate industry, but one in which quality is just as paramount.

Extensive system testing and lifecycle documentation covering things like functional requirements prove the software is robust… and that products out of the brand company will be too. This lets managers sign off with confidence on sending a shipment of packaging off to production when only relatively few samples have been approved.

Before getting more into the sampling process in a future post, it’s important to note why a company would impractically choose not to go through each and every packaging component. On the surface, it may seem like cutting corners just to save money. In reality, it’s devoting the man-hours to areas where they’re better suited, because the right system meets quality standards in place much more reliably and consistently than the human eye.

Imagine assigning one or two employees the task of ensuring thousands upon thousands of carton samples are all the same… well, you hope are the same, anyway. High-quality standards take things like hope out of the equation, leaving time and cost savings as happy by-products. The high quality is the real end-game.


GlobalVision is the leading developer of quality control technologies for retail and pharmaceutical packaged goods. Learn how GlobalVision has helped top Pharmaceutical Companies in quality control.

Register for one of our webinars or request a personalized demo today to find out more about how automated quality control can streamline your packaging process.


GET ALL OUR LATEST UPDATES

Be the first to receive the latest from GlobalVision

GET NEWSLETTER

GlobalVision newsletter banner in dark background

Digital Inspection work on GlobalVision behind the curtain
 
 

The saying goes that it’s not necessarily what you know, but who you know. When it comes to quality control, it’s a little bit of both.

Let me explain: It’s common to only hear of automated software solutions, like GlobalVision, through the grapevine. Not so much through an ad or viral marketing campaign.

Quality-Control Question & Answer

In fact, that’s one of the common questions sales people get when they’re out in the field: “How come we have never heard about this before,” which speaks both to their skepticism and, inevitably, how impressed they are once they’ve seen a demo firsthand. An inspection that might have taken hours takes mere seconds instead.

“How could we not have heard about this before,” is probably more of an accurate way to phrase it. The answer? More often than not: The admittedly niche product is not something for which they had been looking.

Imagine being told by a supervisor to dig a hole and the size of the project is such that it can be done with a shovel. Never mind the fact that it shouldn’t have to be. A shovel is still what you end up using. It wouldn’t occur to you to get it done in a tenth of the time with a backhoe if you had never used one before. Most people don’t look for the best solution possible unless given explicit instructions to. They look for what’s familiar or what’s readily available instead.

Granted, renting a backhoe can be expensive, so to make the metaphor as fitting as possible, it might be best to substitute in a something (even) more cost-effective than the shovel. Say an enchanted spade that magically does all the heavy lifting for you instead. That’s just the nature of the new landscape, due to the exponentially fewer resources required to complete the task at hand.

No Shortcuts, Just Shorter Times to Market

12 Differences Found Using Text Inspection Tools

Just like you would look for a shovel to dig a hole, proofreaders would look for a magnifying glass when handed a proof from the printer. What results is a time-consuming adventure that can be incredibly frustrating. Not only can it be hard to see the characters (hence the magnifying glass), but the size and layout difference between the two versions can be dramatic. Your eyes are forced to shift back and forth, often losing their place. Much like you would need a phone number that was just recited to you repeated again, you can’t remember what you just saw.

Don’t worry. The short-term memory loss isn’t clinical. Just one more sign of proofing fatigue and how hard manual proofreading can be. It’s common for GlobalVision sales reps to give prospective clients an on-site exercise to illustrate just that. It’s just important to note that, in pharma and other industries, the stakes are significantly higher than when playing spot-the-difference in the Sunday edition of the paper.

Some customers may get through the exercise quickly, but is the accuracy there? How accurate do they want to be… or need to be? Usually very. That’s where the return on investment truly enters into the equation. It’s an equation that features a surprisingly simple solution, especially once you know what it is that you’re looking for: an easier and better way to proof.


GlobalVision is the leading developer of quality control technologies for retail and pharmaceutical packaged goods. Learn how GlobalVision can help ensure data integrity using Automated Proofreading.

Want to move on from the magnifying glass? Register for one of our weekly demos or request a personalized demo today.


Read more about error-free packaging


Three doctors holding globalvision checklist for SaaS solutions
 

Known for keeping their cards close to their vests to prevent other players from sneaking a peek, drug companies waited until the last possible moment to move to the cloud. Now sufficiently satisfied that their security concerns have been addressed, they’re finally poised to reap the benefits.

Positive Side-Effects

The advantages the cloud offers are wide-ranging. They run the gamut from facilitated corporate communication between teams in different parts of the world to lower operational costs, both of which are to be expected to a certain extent. They are arguably even interconnected as increased collaboration can help lead to streamlined operations.

However, other benefits aren’t as obvious. These include the flexibility of a scalable IT infrastructure (we’ll get to that later on), and, yes, even increased security. That would be through a variety of measures like encryption, cloud data protection gateways, and hybrid setups, which allow companies to store confidential data on private clouds.

Security concerns within the industry were in part due to required compliance with laws and regulations such as those enacted by the Health Insurance Portability Act. They’re also in part due to best practices, which logically state that sensitive, proprietary information should be protected much like cubs would be by a grizzly bear.

However, as has long been established, if done right, cybersecurity should present no more of an issue than implementing proper physical security measures would in the real world. There is a natural apprehension to deviate from what has been the norm for decades, but the reality is the cloud can be more secure than a brick-and-mortar fortress of a casino, and, it should be noted, Ocean’s Eleven-esque heists happen only in the movies.

Digital meetings can help to reduce paper waste

Untapped Potential

Even though early forms of cloud computing can be traced back as far as the 1960s, the concept really only started to gain mainstream traction this century, with the launch of Amazon’s Simple Storage Service (S3) in 2006.

From that point on, things ramped up quickly. it didn’t take long for IT giants like Google, Microsoft, and Cisco to get in on the action with offerings of their own by 2008. In 2014, an IDG Enterprise study meant to estimate the extent to which the cloud has permeated into corporate consciousness reported that 69% of respondents “have at least one application or a portion of their computing infrastructure in the cloud.”

To illustrate how long it’s taken for big pharma to catch on, one of the earliest adopters within the industry, Pfizer, had been developing an online clinical trial system back in 2013, but ultimately abandoned the project. The silver lining of that cloud, though? The experience exposed Pfizer to the medium’s massive untapped potential and the firm has since revisited it.

The industry-wide shift is now well underway, signaled by the full-court press mounted by software vendors who have been developing cloud-based solutions for specific use within pharma. It’s hard to dispute the advantages firms would be foregoing by holding out any longer.

SaaS: Software as a Solution

GlobalVision cloud integrating all kinds of inspection work on MAC and PC

For instance, regarding that scalable IT infrastructure, the cloud helps make pay-as-you-go Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications both affordable and accessible anywhere… on virtually any device. These include web-enabled or web-based options, with the former being beneficial to firms seeking to provide remote access to legacy applications. Applications that make up the latter are characterized by lower deployment costs and access directly via the web, with one potential drawback being the pre-requisite enterprise-wide standardization of browsers.

Software solutions exist for everything any pharmaceutical company could want or need, providing means to mine massive amounts of data for the purposes of drug research, for one example. For another, automated quality control platforms like GlobalVision positively impact ROI by minimizing the amount of unnecessary recalls due to packaging errors.

Featuring a (Mac or PC) desktop deployment option as well, GlobalVision is the first solution of its kind to take to the cloud, effectively embracing what has become an undeniable trend in computing in general, and, now, pharma by all accounts.

It’s admittedly only recently that pharma has come to take its seat at the table and it may be somewhat of a gamble, but that would be the case no matter the game. It just so happens that, in this one, most everyone wins.


GlobalVision is the leading developer of proofreading technologies for pharmaceutical packaging. Learn how GlobalVision has helped top Pharmaceutical Companies in quality control.

Request a free trial for GlobalVision Digital Inspection Solution


How More about How Error-Detection Software Ensures Data Integrity

 

Laptop, hard drive, monitor and other devices

What does Data integrity Mean?

Data Integrity Definition: Data integrity refers to the fact that data must be reliable and accurate over its entire lifecycle. Data integrity and data security go hand in hand, even though they’re separate concepts. Uncorrupted data (integrity) is considered to be whole and then stay unchanged relative to that complete state.

It is important to understand what data integrity really means in order to be compliant.

Maintaining or keeping data consistent throughout its lifecycle is a matter of protecting it (security) so that it’s reliable. And data that’s reliable is simply able to meet certain standards, with which compliance is necessary. For example, the FDA uses the acronym ALCOA to define data integrity standards and to relate to good manufacturing practices.


Data integrity best practices:

Data is expected to be.

  1. Attributable – Data should clearly demonstrate who observed and recorded it, when it was observed and recorded, and who it is about.
  2. Legible – Data should be easy to understand, recorded permanently and original entries should be preserved.
  3. Contemporaneous – Data should be recorded as it was observed, and at the time it was executed.
  4. Original – Source data should be accessible and preserved in its original form.
  5. Accurate – Data should be free from errors, and conform with the protocol.

The importance of data integrity

Why data integrity important?

Data integrity has become a serious issue over the past few years and therefore is a core focus of many enterprises. The FDA published a Data Integrity Guidance Document outlining compliance with CGMP that addresses the role of data integrity for industry. The document is a result of the FDA increasingly observing violations involving data integrity during inspections. These violations have led to FDA warning letters, import alerts, and consent decrees. The guidance document answers integrity questions and strives to clarify what the FDA expects from businesses.

A clip board including a checklist of items

How can data integrity risks be minimized?

In today’s marketplace, companies need to feel confident that there is no loss of quality when using computer systems. To accomplish this, there are effective strategies that companies may implement to manage their data integrity risks and ensure their data respects the ALCOA principle. By moving from a reactive to a proactive way of thinking, the following key requirements and controls may be put in place to ensure data integrity and minimize risk for your organization.

Here are the 12 ways to reduce data integrity risk:

1. Ensure all computer systems are 21 CFR Part 11 compliant

21 CFR Part 11 is an FDA regulation that applies to electronic records. It is required to ensure that electronic records are trustworthy, reliable, and equivalent to paper records. All computer systems that store data used to make quality decisions must be compliant, making it a perfect place to start with data integrity.

2. Follow a software development lifecycle

A Software Development Lifecycle methodology helps oversee that quality related tasks are performed to address pertinent lifecycle phases from software development, software testing, integration, and installation to ongoing system maintenance. All computer systems should be appropriately developed, qualified, tested, and assessed on a regular basis.

3. Validate your computer systems

Software validation provides documented evidence to deliver assurance that a specific process consistently produces a product that meets its pre-determined specifications and quality attributes. To ensure your system can be validated, it is key to work with vendors that provide validation.

4. Implement audit trails

A secure, computer-generated, time-stamped audit trail records the identity, date, and time of data entries, changes, and deletions. Audit trails ensure the trustworthiness of the electronic record, demonstrate necessary data ownership, and assure records have not been modified or deleted.

5. Implement error detection software

Automated inspection software can help verify important documents to ensure their accuracy. Manual proofreading or inspections are proven to be inefficient and often cannot assure that files are error-free.

6. Secure your records with limited system access

All systems should require a login with at least two unique pieces of information and provide access only to required individuals to guarantee data integrity.

7. Maintain backup and recovery procedures

A backup and recovery strategy is necessary in the unexpected event of data loss and application errors. This procedure ensures the reconstruction of data is achieved through media recovery and the restoration of both physical and logical data and creates a safeguard to protect the integrity of your database files.

8. Design a Quality Management System with SOPs and logical controls

Quality Management System with Standard Operating Procedures builds quality into the process by systematically controlling the process. It is essential to write and follow good effective procedures to ensure clear accountability.

9. Protect the physical and logical security of systems

Controls are needed to protect the physical and logical security of your systems, change management, service management, and system continuity. This will assure continuous development for your organization and support of systems.

10. Establish a vendor management qualification program

It is important to evaluate all vendors supplying products to certify that the products are quality products that meet needs (such as validation services). A continuous appraisal is required following the initial evaluation. Often asking what data integrity procedures your vendors have in place will help with your own organization’s data integrity practices.

11. Properly train users and maintain training records

Users should be properly trained so that they have the right education and expertise to perform their job competently. Documented training records provide this proof.

12. Conduct Internal Audits to evaluate controls and procedures

Internal audits ensure that all procedures are followed and that continuous improvement is emphasized.

Data integrity success

If you are reading this article, you are most probably aware of how important it is to ensure your data is not compromised. The impact of dangerous data can have resounding consequences on any organization no matter the size. However, if data integrity is thought of as a process, the data infrastructure can become an asset instead of a liability.


GlobalVision is the leading developer of automated quality control technologies for
every stage of the pharmaceutical workflow. Learn how GlobalVision has helped top Pharmaceutical Companies in quality control.

Request a free trial for GlobalVision Automated Proofreading Solution


Related Articles:

What is QMS? Quality Management System?

Software Development & Data Integrety

Monitor with inspection work needing automation

For print professionals, the complexities of labeling and packaging can present numerous challenges. Ask any member of a prepress department and they will tell you that artwork must be right the first time and every time. Even a simple mistake has the potential to be catastrophic, resulting in product recalls, fines, write-offs and potential lawsuits.

The changing landscape of packaging and labeling

Product innovation, promotions, globalization, regulatory requirements and consumer demands, are all key factors that contribute to the increasing rate of frequency of packaging and labeling changes. In fact, modifications to packaging and labeling account for up to 10% of a company’s product selling costs, with the average large brand company updating approximately 800 SKUs per year.

If this is not enough of a challenge, audience engagement adds a new level of complexity. An average supermarket carries anywhere between 10,000 and 75,000 individual products, and most consumers purchase between 30 to 40 items on a weekly basis. With this competitive landscape, brand owners are always struggling through packaging and labeling innovations to engage the consumer to buy. However, the more elaborate the product packaging, the greater the challenge for the packaging print service provider.

For the prepress department, packaging and labeling challenges are growing exponentially as artwork becomes more intricate and vibrant. These challenges are further compounded by the need to work faster and more efficiently while maintaining the highest levels of quality control.

Fortunately, packaging and artwork management challenges can be addressed with the addition of a Workflow Automation Solution with Quality Control Tools. This union helps minimize the risk of product recalls while standardizing business processes and maintaining brand consistency and quality.

Integrating Automated Quality Control tools into a Workflow Automation Solution

Recently, Esko and GlobalVision announced the integration of the GlobalVision Quality Control Platform within Automation Engine, Esko’s workflow server. The result is a robust all-in-one quality assurance solution enabling rapid and systematic review of all detected packaging and labeling errors throughout the workflow, from upstream design to print.

“Today’s label and packaging production are complex and ever-changing, making it extremely challenging for companies to balance tight deadlines and quality. The partnership and integration between Esko and GlobalVision combine two best of class technologies to deliver the industry’s first fully automated solution to ensure the accuracy of the text, spelling, graphics, barcodes and Braille from initial design to the final print.”
– 
Jonathan Hou, Director of Technology at GlobalVision

The following Quality Control Tickets
are now available within Automation Engine Suite 16

Icons of GlobalVision solution

With the integration of GlobalVision’s QC tools into Esko’s Workflow Automation Solutions, the potential to produce high-quality error-free output, with minimum rework, is now realized.


For more information, please visit globalvision.co or info@globalvision.co

Learn how GlobalVision has helped leading Print and Packaging companies in quality control.  


Learn More about How a Label Error Can Ruin a Great Package Design