Increasing Workflow in the Pre-Press and Quality Control with the EyeC Proofiler
The pharmaceutical industry is one of the most heavily regulated branches in the world. The smallest text on leaflets or labels as well as complex graphics, codes, and Braille on packaging require that every aspect of the production process be controlled and monitored with the utmost care. Since even the smallest error can have fatal consequences for the end customer, it is essential that the strictest quality standards are met. But with the constant growth of the pharmaceutical industry, the scale of challenges is also increasing. The Bavarian-based company Papierwerk Landshut Mittler GmbH & Co.KG (PLM) was faced with the demanding task of ensuring the high-quality packaging and labeling requirements of pharmaceutical and medical print product manufacturers with a decreasing time-to-market. As an innovation leader in the development, design, and production of folding boxes, PLM has been supplying customers in the pharmaceutical, cosmetics, and consumer goods industries with solid know-how and innovative solutions since 1914. In order to continue ensuring the accuracy and consistency of print images in these industries while at the same time optimizing the quality control process, the folding carton manufacturer now relies on an automated print inspection solution from EyeC.
In addition to the need to speed up the drug development process, the pharmaceutical industry today must meet the demands of global competition. With a delivery rate of around 85% for the pharmaceutical industry, PLM was confronted with the industry’s increasingly strict quality principles while adhering to short delivery times. Time-consuming visual proofreading processes in pre-press and print sample control led to a conflict as these were often error-prone and inconsistent. “We spent too much time on manual proofreading, and there was always the risk that mistakes were overlooked,” explains Christian Barecki, Quality Manager at PLM. Due to the high information density for product tracking, identification, patient, and counterfeit protection, the correct checking of Braille dots and 1D and 2D codes on the printed surface of folding boxes repeatedly presented uncertainty factors for the company. A lack of scalability and cost inefficiency were further points that required optimization of the previous quality process.
The Search for an Innovative Solution
As early as 2006, PLM began searching the market for a suitable tool that could meet the company’s requirements, taking into account the strict regulations in the pharmaceutical environment. “We needed a solution that would automate the proofreading process, track data, and reduce errors while improving the quality process in adherence to customers’ pharmaceutical standards and regulations,” continued Barecki. The most important factor: in addition to high user-friendliness and agility, the new application should be able to reliably complete all tests, e.g. Braille and code tests, all in one pass.
After an extensive evaluation process, EyeC’s offline inspection systems proved to be the perfect solution. “In addition to EyeC’s extensive experience, the team of experts quickly understood what we needed to meet both the specific quality requirements of the pharmaceutical industry and our internal company requirements,” explains the quality manager. “Moreover, EyeC was the only supplier who was able to meet our request for integrated Braille, code, and print image verification without an additional verification step.”
EyeC Proofiler: The System of Choice
In the early summer of 2007, PLM implemented its project in close cooperation with EyeC. In less than three months, the previous processes were evaluated and finally the installation of an EyeC Proofiler for printing, die-cutting, and final inspection along with an EyeC Proofiler Graphic for pre-press was realized. The innovative offline inspection systems ensure quality control in pre-press and final inspection and are specially tailored to the growing requirements of the consumer, luxury goods and pharmaceutical industries. With today’s scan formats up to 1778 x 1219mm, the scanner based EyeC Proofiler tool offers the fastest technology for the quality inspection of samples in small, medium, and large formats. The Proofiler inspects the print quality and at the same time ensures the accuracy and completeness of the content. The system simultaneously combines the strength of intelligent software with the performance of a high-resolution scanner and digitally compares the scanned pattern against the approved template (usually a PDF file). This enables safer, more efficient, and more flexible quality control of text, color, graphics, Braille, and 1D and 2D codes. “The EyeC Proofiler is a powerful automatic inspection solution that detects errors precisely and reliably,” explains Barecki. The systems offer simultaneously a compliant inspection method for the quality control of packaging materials that are valid for audits. The software fulfills all the requirements in the specifications of GMP, ISO 9001, GAMP 5, or CFR 21 Part 11. All results are fully documented to ensure perfect traceability.
After installing the EyeC Proofiler systems, PLM could significantly improve its pre-press and quality control workflow. In the meantime, the two inspection systems have been in daily use at PLM for 16 years in the printed sheet check, the Braille check at the start of die cutting, as well as in the print image, code, and Braille checks in the final inspection and in the pre-press check of the print data against customer data. The quality manager summarizes the results: “We have been working with EyeC for 16 years now and are very satisfied. On the one hand, the systems are always flexibly adapted to our needs. On the other hand, because the processes work accurately, and the effort of the previous manual proofreading has gone away.” Thanks to the early detection of errors, PLM was also able to improve the consistency and accuracy of the print templates. Enormous test reliability for the Bavarian folding box producer. The intuitive usability of the system also made it easier for the responsible five-person project team. “The automation options and the user-friendly interface made it easy for us to integrate the Proofiler into our workflow. At the same time, we were able to increase the productivity of our operators. So, we not only benefit in terms of time but also in terms of quality,” continues Barecki.
The Next Steps
The joint collaboration's focus continues to be optimizing various processes to further improve test reliability and make certain processes even more economical. It was not until the end of 2022 that the connection of the existing Proofiler Graphic to the workflow of the Esko Automation Engine was implemented with the help of EyeC’s workflow integration to further increase the degree of automation of the checks in pre-press. The planned extension of the reports is to be implemented as the next project to be able to visualize register shiftings even better and to be able to document them accordingly. “EyeC is always open and interested in further developments of their solutions. The exceptional customer service, exchange on an equal footing, and continuous feedback, combined with the extensive expertise in the packaging industry, make the company a reliable partner with whom we can achieve the best results,” concludes Barecki.
Further information about PLM at https://plm.de/.