The three rules to ensure you avoid the pitfalls of data migration

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Partly in response to growing regulatory requirements but also to ensure good manufacturing practices in an increasingly global world, manufacturers in regulated industries are beginning to realise labelling and artwork can no longer be a manual process managed through siloed information streams. These changes expose the increasing risk of potential inaccuracies, particularly when we are talking about manufacturers producing vast product sets across multiple geographies. But as Beth Peckover, Vice President of Operations at Kallik told IT Supply Chain, it’s exactly these issues that can stall migration to a new labelling and artwork management system. Here she identifies some of the key elements to make the migration process as smooth as possible.

Safety and compliance must be top of mind for manufacturers in regulated industries, and no more so than in the labelling and artwork displayed on their products and packaging. At the same time, the goalposts are constantly shifting to meet the latest safety and compliance requirements in highly regulated industries – think the EU Medical Device Regulation (MDR) and In Vitro Diagnostic Regulation (IVDR) which are both dominating the medical industry right now. Other industries also face similar pressures on labelling accuracy such as food and beverage, cosmetics and chemical manufacturing.

 

Labelling and artwork under the spotlight

This focus on labelling and artwork updates is a positive for highly regulated industries, and more and more manufacturers are choosing to move towards cloud-based automated solutions to manage their labels and artwork through a central platform. But a shift to a new system doesn’t come without complexities and potential pitfalls – particularly during the migration period of an implementation.

The migration phase of a new implementation can cause a certain degree of fear for manufacturers. This can be due to discovering the sheer scale and complexity of the task at hand – which may often extend to include thousands of products manufactured across tens of countries. This fear is also compounded by the potential cost of getting an implementation wrong – incorrect labelling can hold up production and shipping, but worse still, can trigger the need to recall a product after distribution.

Here are three key focus areas for manufacturers in highly regulated industries to prioritise during labelling and artwork migration projects:

 

  1. Data clean-up – hunt it down and clean it out

Simply identifying and discovering all existing labelling and artwork data is often the most difficult part of any migration process. When it comes to migrating data into a new system, manufacturers often have different databases that are stored in various locations bringing in potential inconsistencies around formatting, language and other local requirements. Data can also be held in different systems because of varying product lines and different units of a business might have their own legacy approaches to handling data and labels.

This means that trying to get that information is often extremely difficult and can take longer than anticipated. Rather than waiting to sign a contract for a new labelling or artwork management system, the manufacturer should already be trying to track down and gather data ahead of project start. Once the data has been collated then it becomes a case of working with the software supplier to cleanse inaccuracies or repetition to ensure incorrect or outdated information is not fed into the new system.

For example, the Kallik implementation teams often find that manufacturers can have a dataset that is several versions out of date from what is actually on the label or old artworks that are no longer even used. Sometimes the team will also identify where there’s a need to rationalise content. A manufacturer might have two phrases that are very similar and saying the same thing, but they only want one version of an image or an icon in our system because they want to control that latest version.

 

  1. It’s an opportunity to make smart label and artwork improvements

 Given all labels and artwork are now being fed into a new system, this presents a perfect opportunity to improve or amend outdated labels going forward to make label and artwork management smarter. This can also extend to overhauling and standardising labels to meet compliance requirements or to introduce artwork uniformity across a product set.

Where possible, common layouts and templates can be used to help introduce this standardisation. In the case of technical labels, labels can be generated completely automatically with the right solution – once the relevant components are chosen, the software will create the label using pre-defined templates and alert the relevant approvers within an organisation, as well as centrally manage all version control. New labels and artwork can be created in seconds, instead of weeks.

Digitising labeling and artwork management process will also support revenue growth going forward. At Kallik, we’ve seen our customer’s project completion times cut by as much as 80%, with an average label and artwork generation time of less than 60 seconds, hugely improving time to market. Stats from a medical device organisation that adopted the Kallik automated platform, Veraciti™, show it can now process a typical monthly workload of over 8,000 artwork creation jobs at an average rate of one job per 37 seconds, in turn cutting average label and artwork project completion time from 52 to just 26 days.

 

  1. AI provides a helping hand to bring migration together

 Looking to the future, Artificial Intelligence is coming to the fore to help migrate data and manage labelling systems. AI can actually be used to extract data from existing labels, removing much of the burden on the manufacturer who would have to piece together all this information manually or through disparate systems in every business unit or geographic site.

A next-gen labelling and artwork management platform, such as Veraciti™, includes a tool that can scan a label for its content and then processes it in a way that identifies where there are commonalities to standardise and cleanse automatically. The AI tool the Kallik migration team is using is also capable of loading labels and migrating into the labelling and artwork management system even quicker than ever before and to a higher level of quality – because there’s less human intervention needed throughout the process.

It’s not only quality. AI also introduces a two-fold time saving during migration for both the manufacturer and Kallik as a solution provider. Firstly, the manufacturer has to spend much less time sourcing the data needed to begin the migration process, and Kallik migration teams spend less time manually copying and pasting data from legacy systems. Initial results from the proof-of-concept have reduced the data migration phase from two-weeks to two hours.

 

Turning migration into a strategic enabler

 Migrating to a new management system can be a frustrating and complicated process. Particularly the migration phase of a new implementation can cause a certain degree of fear for manufacturers, given the scale, complexity and recall repercussions of the task at hand – often extending to thousands of products manufactured across tens of countries.

But with the right tools and expertise behind it, a migration project can be improved from an accuracy, standardisation and time standpoint. No longer does migration need to be seen as a challenge – it can now be the springboard to a smarter, safer and software-driven approach to labelling and artwork management.