Investing in the EyeC electronic proof inspection system has enabled CV Labels to meet the exacting quality standards of its pharmaceutical and medical industry customers. Lynda Searby takes a look at the project.
Who CV Labels
What EyeC Proofiler off-line print inspection system
Why To replace its human eye print inspection operation with a more efficient and accurate automated solution
When May 2015
CV Labels is a Scottish printer of labels for pharmaceutical, medical and healthcare products, ranging from bloodbags, vials and syringes to blister packs, cartons and bottles.
These are demanding industries to supply, and quality standards count for everything. CV Labels’ status as a PS 9000:2011 pharmaceutical quality certified supplier carries a lot of weight for new and existing customers. The company’s label manufacturing process is GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) and MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) audited, and labels have to be subjected to the highest level of inspection to ensure dosages and data are accurate. A missing or an extra decimal point can be the difference between patient relapse and recovery.
Historically, CV Labels primarily used human eye inspection methods to check print quality and accuracy when setting up the press.
“Staff used to hand-read the pre-press label proof. We did have cameras that could image the proof when it came off the press but no electronic inspection of the proof prior to the press running,” says Bob Veitch, managing director at CV Labels.
“Labels were being checked at the start and finish of each production run. We were manually checking between 20 and 30 different jobs per day, which was incredibly time-consuming,” he recalls.
When CV Labels started expanding into label production in foreign languages, the company decided that the time had come to automate its print inspection operation.
“It is one thing finding an error on a basic English language label, but quite another when it is a detailed text in a foreign language,” says Veitch.
After receiving a pre-show mailer, CV Labels paid a visit to EyeC-UK’s stand at the Packaging Innovations show in 2014. A post-show demonstration of EyeC’s Proofiler system at CV Labels’ factory near Kilmarnock convinced Veitch to go ahead and purchase the print inspection system.
The Proofiler family includes validated off-line sample checking systems which can be used for pre-press file to file comparison (compare the print ready file to the signed-off proof), press set-up (comparing the first impressions to the signed-off proof) and outgoing quality checks. Available for inspection of printed sheets sized A4, A3, A2, A1, A0, B1 and B0 or larger, the Proofiler uses a patented technique to automatically locate and inspect every ‘up’ in a repeat against the customer signed proof.
“The Proofiler is usually deployed as an aid to press set-up at the beginning of a job, so that when the plates have been mounted and the inks are in, the operator can verify that there is no plate damage or wrong ink colours,” explains Michael Hill, sales director at EyeC.
“The operator scans the first repeat of labels and the Proofiler compares it to the approved artwork. Some printers also use it to inspect jobs at the end or, say, every 10,000 sheets or every master reel,” he adds.
Hill says the intuitive user interface is a particular selling point for many customers. “The user interface works from left to right on every screen. If it is a job with no defects, an inspection can be carried out in about six clicks from start to finish,” he says.
The Proofiler’s ease of use was important to CV Labels, as was the way in which it interfaced with the company’s existing systems.
“We like the fact that the Proofiler is not a complex system; you don’t have to be an IT expert to run it. We could also see that it would integrate well with our other systems; we can send the file from a Mac to the Proofiler and can easily retrieve the PDF to scan against the printed proof,” says Veitch.
The Proofiler was installed at CV Labels in May 2015, where it is deployed to graphically compare scanned print samples against the end customer’s signed-off proof. It highlights any deviations, including verifying the ISO grade of the barcodes, to ensure the samples are compliant. It is used to inspect a variety of labels, from basic labels in paper, polypropylene and clear polyester, to more complex formats such as low-leach, three-ply and expanded content labels, some in Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese and Swedish languages.
Investing in the EyeC technology has not only reduced the amount of time spent on tedious human eye inspections, but has also given CV Labels and its customers complete confidence in label accuracy and quality – even for complex foreign language versions.
“Switching from hand reading to electronic inspection has saved a massive amount of time, plus there is no way we would be able to check all of the hyphens, accents and other symbols on language versions manually – being able to do that is a godsend,” says Veitch. “Our customers regularly come and audit us to check that we are compliant with industry standards, and they are invariably blown away by the EyeC system and the fact there is no reliance on human eye inspection.”