Achieving Efficient, Personalised Packaging and Labelling
SummaryThe need to boost customer choice while keeping your costs down is a growing burden on manufacturers and supply chains, argues Kallik’s David Bennett
- Author Company: Kallik
- Author Name: is Chief Commercial Officer at Kallik
The growing appetite and opportunity for increased personalisation of medical treatment plans, devices and medicines is clear, promising to improve the efficacy and safety of life sciences products and services for patients.
Yet this in turn places a growing burden on manufacturers and supply chains to manage multiplying stock-keeping units, as the number of variants of each product increases. Batches are becoming smaller and the number of packaging and labelling variants are soaring to meet the growing demand of personalisation. Managing this logistical complexity reliably, efficiently and consistently across markets and for all target user groups, is a huge test of brands’ current capabilities.
Whether it’s making a child's inhaler easier to use or making individual drugs less confusing to vulnerable patients with complex conditions to supplying a specific dose for just one particular patient, personalised packaging has an important role to play in increasing patient adherence, and boosting safety. Indeed, it is as potentially transformational as personalised medicines and products themselves.
Yet managing packaging and labelling is problematic for life sciences. The reason for this is the sheer volume of regulated elements that must be managed as part or the labelling process. This is compounded by the fact that these elements are also subject to frequent change as substances, manufacturing processes, naming conventions, or compliance requirements are constantly updated.
And as batches of identical products become increasingly smaller, to be replaced by more variants of products, and their associated packaging, labelling and instructions-for-use contents, the workloads for teams involved in label design, approval, distribution, and ongoing change management is rising dramatically.
Research into this by management consultants McKinsey highlights the struggle life sciences companies face compared to other industries such as tech or fast-moving consumer goods (FCMG). The study found, when it comes to maintaining optimum stock levels, minimising lead times and exposure to product obsolescence, pharmaceutical and medical device companies perform poorly and inefficiently compared to most other product categories. For example, its findings suggest McKinsey Life Sciences firms have 4-6 times the inventory days of FMCG manufacturers, 6 times the risk of obsolescence, and up to 40 times the manufacturing lead times.
Much of this can be attributed to the highly piecemeal and manual way that manufacturers and supply chains manage artwork and labelling. Rarely efficient, this is now basically unsustainable in a future likely to feature multiplying product variants. What firms need is a clear practical path towards agility-at-scale: a prerequisite for personalised packaging.
Achieving all this at scale
In order to tackle these challenges life sciences firms need to engage with modern, cloud-based labelling platforms, which can manage and track the dynamic assembly, review, and workflow of every labelling element (text, icons, artwork), from the factory floor to a product’s arrival with the customer.
Of course, it’s an open market, and you need to find the right solution for your specific business needs. But however you move forward, the truth remains that pharmaceutical firms cannot afford to retain fragmented and highly manual ways of managing packaging and labelling. If increased globalisation and accelerating regulatory updates have not served as a sufficient catalyst for transformation in all four corners of the life sciences market, the rising personalisation trend will certainly demand a fresh approach.