How Dr. Max Pharma Artwork Development teams saved time, increased accuracy and achieved greater confidence creating and verifying artwork for labeling and packaging in the pharmaceutical industry. Automated proofreading unleashed new capabilities and fostered team spirit.
Dr. Max Pharma is a leading private label manufacturer in Central Europe. From its headquarters in Prague (Czech Republic), Artwork Development teams work together with global and local teams to develop and implement compliant labeling and packaging for the full range of pharmaceutical products the company manufactures for the Dr. Max Pharmacy chain. Lucie Blažek is Artwork Development Manager for OTC products and medical devices; Jarmila Sáňková is the Artwork Development Manager for food supplements, cosmetics and consumer goods. Together, their product portfolio consists of approximately 1200 stock-keeping units (SKUs), and each of these requires a minimum of two artwork elements, encompassing labeling, the outer packaging, blister packaging, and inserts.
“For OTC, the artwork development core process begins with a briefing in the form of an approved document in Word format. Artwork is created and this was proofread in PDF format manually against the master document,” explains Lucie Blažek. Subsequently, the artwork version was forwarded to Regulatory Affairs (RA), which proofread the document again manually and returned it with any corrections. A similar if slightly different process was followed by Jarmila Sáňková and her team for food supplements, cosmetics and consumer goods.
Due to multiple language versions, the approved master document was also distributed to local subsidiaries (local translation agencies) for translation into (up to) six languages, returned, and rendered as an artwork document in PDF. This also demanded additional control steps at national or regional level.
Once verified, the artwork document was returned to Artwork Development as a print proof for final proofreading and verification. It is common for printers to introduce format and layout changes, some of which went unnoticed by the Artwork Development teams.
Due the strong growth of the Dr. Max product range, coupled with the need for revisions and updates, the two Artwork Development managers began seeking ways to optimize the workflow. “Errors in our business can lead to a product recall, which we definitely want to avoid,” they explain, “and manual proofreading does not guarantee an error-free result.” Reducing the risk of error due to manual proofreading was therefore their key criterium for automating the proofreading process. Verifying artwork files and print proofs was their obvious priority, along with clear documentation throughout workflow steps.
“We first learned about TVT from a colleague in the RA team,” Jarmila Sáňková explains. “They had seen the software presented at an external RA workshop.” The Artwork Development managers contacted Schlafender Hase and immediately received a fully functional demo version of TVT, along with access to Schlafender Hase’s e-learning platform for TVT. The Artwork Development Managers produced a business case for TVT and presented this to management, which gave the green light for the purchase of licenses. Jarmila Sáňková smiles: “We were quite passionate about TVT from the beginning, as we knew it would make our working lives much easier.”
Implementation was simplified because some team members were already familiar with TVT. “And everybody got on board very easily as the software is truly user friendly and intuitive,” Lucie Blažek and Jarmila Sáňková concur. They found the e-learning portal especially useful whenever they had questions. Within three months from first contact with Schlafender Hase, they had implemented TVT and begun optimizing workflows.
Within two weeks of implementation, the teams felt they could confidently remove the step of sending artwork to Regulatory Affairs for proofreading. TVT provided the verification they required, and saves the Regulatory Affairs team at least two hours on each artwork review.
“Our Artwork Development teams number nine people and today all are using TVT on a daily basis,” they add.
One unexpected benefit in the implementation phase was that it drew the teams and their respective members closer together, even though many sat physically separate from each other. The teams also felt that management valued their time, because it recognized the need for time-saving, state-of-the-art automated proofreading technology that allowed them to complete projects faster with the same number of people. A flow-on was greater recognition and respect for the teams and the work they performed.
Furthermore, the global Artwork Development teams were able to streamline processes with foreign language versions, as they were now able to perform automated proofreading and most artwork verification themselves, without having to send, for example, a PDF versions of product leaflets to the local team as an initial verification step. Again, all actions are documented clearly using report functions.
Using TVT to proofread and verify print proofs of artwork has also brought some unexpected benefits.
“TVT has been an enormous help for us in checking whether the text we prepare has been correctly applied by external agencies,” the Artwork managers add. “When the final print proofs are available, we check those with TVT. We can immediately see if a change has been made.
“’The devil is in the detail’, as the saying goes, and we have one hard and fast rule: no change should be made without our approval. We can see any changes at a very fine level now – ones that might have gone unnoticed before.”
The result has been even higher quality assurance, and even lower risk of errors. Team confidence has increased, and so too has awareness of processes: external partners know that no unapproved change goes unnoticed.
Jarmila Sáňková gives the example of logos. “Sometimes it’s seemingly ‘small’ things like the logo size, but that’s non-negotiable, because we have specifications for this in our corporate design, and it should never change.”
“In another interesting use of TVT, we compared previous and updated versions of a particular set of regulations,” the Artwork managers explain. “Within seconds we were able to inform our RA colleagues exactly what was new in the updated regulatory version. This has the RA department considering expanding the use of TVT to their department. ”
“A year ago, we didn’t even know we needed TVT. We were initially looking for an AMS system to help manage our artwork creation process, but once we saw what TVT was capable of, and had a chance to try the software, we couldn’t imagine our work without TVT,” they conclude.
About Dr. Max Pharma:
With its headquarters in Prague (Czech Republic), Dr. Max Pharma is a leading private label manufacturer in Central Europe, and develops the full range of pharmaceutical products for Dr. Max Pharmacy chain. Dr. Max Pharmacy currently serves end customers in six Central European countries. Since being established in 2011, it has grown rapidly, with a portfolio based around private label products. Since 2013 it has also been active in OTC products, and in the company 2015 entered the premium market for pharmaceutical products.