Our customers in the highly regulated environment of the pharmaceutical industry are facing great challenges: Variable batch sizes, ranging from small volumes to large-scale orders, are expected to be produced with increasingly shorter lead times. This requires a high degree of supply chain agility as well as extremely flexible production. Which is exactly where we support our customers: With tailor-made printing solutions in the fields of proven flexo- and innovative digital printing. We also provide our customers with added value, whether it is product quality, service, a more rapid supply of spare parts, or flexibly engaging their requests and problems.
That is why this edition of the “Insider” is all about our customers and what we do to keep them happy. Find out how Hapa was able to provide solutions for PCI Pharma Services and how the company perceives the subsequent added value. Another example is the “CX Project” and how it enables us to align our service with the expectations of our customers even more effectively.
I wish you a pleasant read.
Chief Executive Officer, Hapa AG
At PCI’s UK facilities short lead times are often the order of the day. Hapa’s flexo-graphic systems are run both in-line and in roll-to-roll format to provide reliable and consistent printing on foil for blister production.
Hapa print systems are used extensively on PCI’s Noack equipment. Top-mounted on the blister line, a Hapa 226 UV flexo system provides single color imaging onto foil.
PCI Pharma Services is an integrated full service pharmaceutical provider and a reliable partner to leading companies in the global healthcare industry. With over fifty years of packaging expertise and in excess of fifty successful product launches per year, PCI is a trusted leader and industry expert in the clinical trials and commercialization of new medicines. They chose Hapa as a partner to make the impossible happen.
Various volumes, short lead times
The company’s UK operations are centered at the Welsh sites of Hay-on-Wye, Tredegar, and Bridgend. The Hay-on-Wye facility is mainly dedicated to clinical and commercial packaging, though it also performs some laboratory testing and quality control certification of products. Overall, the plant handles mainly patented branded pharmaceutical products, along with a smaller amount of generic product packaging. Packaging volumes cover the widest range imaginable, anything from ten cartons through to orders requiring some 250,000 blisters. The site caters for everything from long-run branded products through to short-run demands such as controlled drug orders, where traceability is a critical element. PCI’s Paul Smallman, Technical Services Director, commented: “Short lead times are often the order of the day here. Our focus has to be to manage the impossible.”
Reliability and quality of Hapa systems
Hapa print equipment is used extensively on PCI’s Noack blister lines to provide single color imaging onto foil.
PCI runs four such lines complete with Hapa 226 UV flexographic printers, whilst another two blister lines run without a printer, incorporating pre-printed foil produced using a Hapa 230 roll-to-roll printer. “The reliability and quality produced by the Hapa systems are the most important factors for us,” said Smallman. “Hapa has the name and pedigree to rely on, and the use of Hapa equipment is very much embedded in PCI. We have, of course, looked at other offerings, but none offer us the reliability and consistency that are simply essential for the work we produce. In-line work is our favored approach as it simplifies the process, increases OEE and agility, and at the same time reduces waste and stock holding issues. In-line does mean, of course, that reliability is critical.”
The current Hapa systems in use provide single color reproduction. Where a second color is to be incorporated, such as for warning symbols, backgrounds, or for security reasons, foils can be partially pre-printed with generic text, information graphics, or backgrounds and pre-ordered to suit, then finished on-line with market specific requirements. The Hapa 226 print systems in use are UV flexo top-mounted capable of printing web widths of 50 mm to 270 mm, at speeds that matches the blister line in one color. Hapa can also supply a range of UV flexo printers which can be configured with multiple colors, as well as hybrid printers that combine flexo with digital drop-on-demand technology, which can print variable data such as serialization and static information.
Another Hapa 226 UV flexo system working on a blister line. Inline printing is the favored approach at PCI as it simplifies the process whilst reducing waste and stock holding issues.
Evaluation of digital print products
As with every business currently producing printed output, the subject of digital repro-duction has had to be explored. There are many points in favour of a switch to digital print, such as serialization, batch numbering, dating, and the incorporation of additional security and anti-counterfeiting features that would add value to both clinical and commercial pack formats. “PCI is evaluating Hapa digital products, says Smallman, “however, customer demand from the somewhat conservative pharmaceutical packaging sector must come first.”
Investment continues at PCI. The latest investment in contained packaging capability at the PCI Ireland site demonstrates ongoing commitment to delivering the highest standards of safety and regulatory adherence for specialized medicines.
The Hapa 226 at a glance
What CX is all about? CX stands for Customer Experience and is an initiative that goes beyond simply collecting customer feedback. Instead, CX is about entering into a dialog with our customers and gaining detailed insights about how they experience the service provided by Hapa.
Selami Ayhan, LSS Black Belt
“CX enables us to align our service with the expectations of our customers even more effectively.”
There are numerous surveys regarding customer satisfaction. Hapa also uses this important tool for continuous improve-ment. However, CX is more profound than most surveys. Selami Ayhan, LSS Black Belt, is responsible for the CX-project at Hapa and Coesia. He will provide informa-tion about the most important aspects.
Could you explain the CX project to us?
CX is a global initiative driven by our holding company Coesia in Bologna, Italy, in order to better understand customer experiences when it comes to service. In customer service, we have various points of contact with customers which constitutes a constant dialog with them. CX is about mapping and measuring all these points of contacts – or events, as we call them.
What kind of events are we talking about?
Typical service events at Hapa would be installations, maintenance and trouble-shooting. Any event may be quite complex, therefore holding enormous information. From this, something positive can emerge, or – as we all experience from time to time – something with room for improvement. The visibility and quantifiability of feedback enables us to better understand customers and initiate improvements. CX provides us with the possibility of finding out in great detail how our customers perceive Hapa’s service.
What do you actually measure?
Let’s take the example of installing a printing system. For such a project, we highlight all aspects, such as planning, communication with the customer, transport, machine performance, quality, documentation, compliance, occupational health and safety provisions, and even the behavior of our employees towards our customers.
That sounds like a rather extensive survey.
Well, the installation of a system is a complex process, which is why we want to fully understand all the important spheres of action. But it takes less effort than one might suspect. Our measurements have shown that responding to our online survey has never taken up more than 3 minutes of our customers’ valuable time. I believe that to be an appropriate amount of time to review a complex installation project.
How do you collect the data?
We have developed a lean and efficient process. Everything happens on an online platform: distribution of the questionnaire, response collection and even analysis. The great thing is that CX is easy to use without any room for transmission errors while offering fast reporting and e-mail triggers or red alerts in case of low survey scores.
What is a red alert?
A red alert means that we received a low score for a certain event. In this case, the person responsible for the process must contact the customer within 48 hours, understand the reason for the low score and initiate immediate measures to solve the problem.
What is the added value for customers?
By recognizing and understanding the challenges of our customers, we can better align our service organization with the expectations of the customers. We process feedback in a timely and customized fashion: Three to four business days after the completion of an event, the customer will be sent a survey which we analyze immediately after receiving the response. Supported by the facts collected as such, we are able to create medium-term and long-term solutions which will contribute to a sustainable optimization of the customer experience and drive continuous improvement.
Hapa will now manage the dispatch of spare and wear parts through the distribution center in Poland. Customers will profit from simpler processes, improved availability of goods and quicker response times.
Hapa customers profit worldwide from the benefits of the distribution center in Poland.
The central warehouse in Poland has been part of the Coesia Group since 2005, having already proven its value for some associate companies. Hapa customers will now also profit from the benefits of the European logistics system. Unlike in Switzerland, the movement of goods in countries of the European Union requires far less formalities.
Since there is no customs clearance, EU customers can avoid the cumbersome “paper war”, which in the worst case may delay receipt of the goods by days, but also the fees due for customs clearance. Moreover, customers will not have to pay the VAT in cash upon receipt of the goods. Customers outside of the European Union will also benefit from the new logistics system, because the distribution center in Poland dispatches goods three times per week by air and daily by truck. Thanks to this increase in dispatch windows, ordered parts can be delivered more speedily and reach the customer more quickly. Customers also profit from a better availability of goods thanks to sophisticated, dynamic stock management.
The distribution center is operated in shifts from 6 o’clock in the morning until 10 o’clock at night, ensuring quicker response times. Another benefit is the close proximity of the Hapa Helpdesk to the warehouse: Once a Helpdesk employee has identified a problem and urgently requires parts, that employee can prompt dispatch of these parts immediately on site. Currently, the 500 most important parts as well as UV flexo and UV DOD inks are administered at the new distribution center and dispatched from there. There are no visible changes for our customers: The ordering process via firstname.lastname@example.org or webshop remains the same, as do the contact partners.
The ongoing, worldwide success of the UV flexo EasyFlex printing system is testimony to it’s reliability.
Project Manager Marcello Calistri knows the top-selling flexo printing system like the back of his hand.
With a compact design, the robust and reliable Easyflex is designed specifically for on-line printing of foil on blister packaging lines. Hapa’s UV Flexo technology is still preferred by many pharmaceutical companies due to the high print quality and simple operation. And the sales numbers agree: with 150 EasyFlex instal-lations since the machine was launched ten years ago, the Easyflex is today trusted by customers all over the world.
Marcello Calistri, Project Manager, has been managing this product since its inception. He accompanied the product at countless exhibitions, set it up on site and made sure that it is safely packaged and returned intact to Hapa in Switzerland. “The EasyFlex is a workhorse just like me – working tirelessly and always in action”, says Marcello with a smile.
At PACK EXPO in Chicago, Hapa presented the digital printing systems Web 4.0 and BlisterJet CMYK which add some color to pharma production while also increasing the flexibility and agility of packaging lines.
Strong performance at PACK EXPO: Hapa presented its digital printing systems together with nine other Coesia companies at the 1,200 sq m booth.
Hapa made the most of its presence at the 1,200 sq m Coesia Group corporate stand together with ten sister companies at this year’s PACK EXPO by introducing innovative digital printing systems to the American trade audience. At Hapa, all signs pointed to multicolor and the new Web 4.0 as well as the BlisterJet CMYK made the Hapa booth a popular destination. Especially because Hapa offers the right system for any production challenge. One example is the Web 4.0 which was the star at the stand. This Industry 4-ready web printing system integrates easily onto packaging lines to provide just in time foil production. At PACK EXPO, it demonstrated high-resolution, CMYK printing onto aluminum lidding foil.
Its optional scalability of up to six colors plus lacquer as well as the capability to connect seamlessly with digital workflow generated great interest. Also the BlisterJet CMYK attracted a lot of attention of the audience. Designed for late-stage customization, it printed multi-color designs directly onto sealed blisters right at the exhibition booth. People were particularly interested in the possibilities of using the BlisterJet CMYK in a postponement strategy to improve supply chain agility and reaction times to volatile market demands and increasing regulations. Hapa’s success at the exhibition was complemented by well-attended talks and workshops about “Production Agility” and “Asset Utilization”, presented by James MacKenzie, Sales and Marketing Director.
Star at the Hapa stand: The Web 4.0 premiered as a four-color version.
Composing the manual for a printing system is a more complex task than simply describing the machine. Technical Writer Marco Geiser even takes on different roles in order to meet the needs of his target groups.
Technical Writer Marco Geiser provides for correct manuals of the entire Hapa portfolio.
As an integral part of the machine, the manual contains instructions as well as safety information. “Legal aspects play a significant role here. The user must be made aware of hazards which cannot be prevented due to the design of the machine”, explains Marco. Such documentation should not only be comprehensible but must also be written in the language of the customer. “We have outsourced the translations to an agency. Currently, our portfolio includes approximately 20 languages.”
Understanding target groups
But how do you explain complex processes to different target groups? “I have to first understand the process on the user level myself”, says Marco. To this end, he assumes the roles of the users: “When I am the operator, I have every lever and every function explained to me until I would be able to operate the machine. As a service technician, I try to obtain information that is as precise as possible.” It is advantageous for Marco’s work that Hapa manufactures its printing systems in-house. “When I need information about a certain system, it takes me one minute to get to the Assembly Department.”
Lateral entrant by accident
The graduate translator came to work for Hapa by a strike of good fortune. After completing his studies, Marco worked as a teacher for adults learning German as a second language, publishing the magazine of his trade association on the side. “One day, I received a job posting by Hapa to be published. I spontaneously decided to apply and was hired – even before the job posting was printed in the next edition”, remembers a smiling Marco. That was 19 years ago. “My first manual was for Digiprint, Hapa’s first digital printing system. So, I took part in Hapa’s path to digitization from the very beginning and contributed my part.”
Anything but monotonous
To this day, Marco loves his job because of the challenge of presenting complex issues in an understandable manner. He also appreciates the versatility of his tasks: learning on the machine, deciding on content and writing texts while also photographing parts, creating graphs and layouts and reviewing terminology. “What’s great is that I can do everything from A to Z – only the actual translation and printing is taken care of by others”, explains Marco. And while his tools continue to develop, his basic task remains the same: writing good manuals. “A transformation has been taking place for a few years now, with the trend moving away from written documentation towards animated, interactive instructions on digital media carriers,” says Marco. It is extremely important to stay up-to-date – and continue assuming interesting roles. That will keep my job exciting in the future as well.”
… how your packaging design becomes a print-ready copy?
To generate printable templates from data such as blister designs, such data has to be converted into pixel graphs. This is achieved by the Raster Image Processor (RIP) which is integrated into the printer. Pixel graphs consist of raster-shaped arrangements of pixels, each of which have an assigned color.
Separated, to be together: To reproduce color and halftone images, the printers divide the documents into four color separations, one each for cyan (C), magenta (M), yellow (Y) and black (K). Once the color separations with the corresponding color are printed precisely over each other, they will depict the image again.
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