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FLEXO Magazine : June 2008
TECHNOLOGIES & TECHNIQUES Package designs can be tied to a database on the brand owner side. Less Hands Mean Less Errors By Mark Vanover T he worst nightmare for any flexo printer is finding a typo in packaging-particularly when it affects legal text. What is the cost of a wrong barcode on press? What is the cost of incorrect use of product text? What is the cost of erroneous ingredient copy on a label? It is quite commonplace to change text on packaging many times until the very last moment before it goes on press. Text needs to comply with a number of regulations, such as those from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Secure and effi- cient management of text is one of the most sensitive pain points that brand owners and their supply community experience. Managing the textual content of package artwork during the design and production process is error-prone and very time con- suming. Each change to the text copy has to be entered to the text file, applied to the package design file and needs to be verified through an approval cycle. Last minute changes to the text by the designer don't always make it back into the content management system, effectively losing track of the modification for future reruns or versions. Such errors in artwork are wasteful, generate rework and cause delays in product launches. Sometimes even a product recall is traced back to a text error. Secure and efficient text management is a very sensitive pain point for brand owners. Usually, when people think about workflow automation, they think about the more efficient use of labor. Typically, costs are reduced because of a more efficient way of passing work through a plant. However, automation can also be viewed as a way to cre- ate data once, and transfer it to workflow applications throughout the supply chain from a common database. In this way, the risks for operator error throughout the workflow are limited. - DOING IT SMART Vendors of production automation software have developed ways to eliminate the painful process of retyping sensitive data, thus eliminating operator intervention. The process enables users to downloaded important information that must appear on labels directly from the source. Originally, this process was developed for prepress software- methods for the print provider to assure accurate data. Now it has gone upstream. liNKING UP IllUSTRATOR@ The latest way effective workflows are establishing dynamic links between the brand owners and their suppliers is by es- tablishing a connection through a plug-in directly in Adobe@ Illustrator@. The software allows package developers to fix the position of each of its design elements on the package and tie the content of each element to a location in a secure database. These tools effectively separate the package's textual content from its layout, so text of package design can be outsourced and main- tained from outside Adobe@ Illustrator@. Thus, a graphic designer has an easy, and nearly flawless way to access this information-product variations such as flavors and languages, legal notifications and safe- ty warnings, and barcodes-and automatically position it within the graphic design placeholder. Noone spends time searching for files, because the required information is automatically tagged in a data- base. And, there are no out-of-date instructions, because informa- tion is polled in real time, each and every time the package design artwork is developed and prepared for output, separating content from the designer's task of developing style and layout. JUNE 2008 www.flexography.org FLEXO