How to save time in pharmaceutical packaging and device development

Any pharmaceutical package is created through the combined efforts of many different professions. From designers to proofreaders and even packaging engineers, there are countless different hands involved in the design and production of pharmaceutical packaging. From the moment the idea is conceived to the day it reaches store shelves, the process tends to be rather intuitive and the steps are laid out in an organised manner.

However, there’s no denying that the process can be smoothed out and made more efficient, especially when new drugs are developed or new dosage sizes require different-sized packaging. In an industry where packaging developments are constantly evolving, it’s important to look at ways to save time in order to get the final product into the hands of customers as quickly as possible.



Roles Involved in Packaging Development

Pharma packaging development is split into a number of different steps that are handled by different roles. The exact process can differ depending on the pharmaceutical company or even based on regional differences. However, these roles are generally accepted as the standard when it comes to pharmaceutical device development.


Labelling project manager

This role is similar to that of a project manager since they are responsible for a large number of employees and teams. They typically interpret guidelines and instructions given by regulatory bodies regarding packaging. They then have to balance those guidelines with orders given by stakeholders and potentially even pharmaceutical research and development teams in order to ensure that the labels are factual and correct.


Packaging departments should look at existing designs and concepts

The packaging department is often involved in the conceptual design of pharmaceutical device development. This may involve sketching initial designs and producing prototype concepts that would suit a variety of different medication. Once a project has been given the go-ahead, the packaging department may consult existing designs for inspiration and potentially use existing concepts if they fit within certain technical constraints suggested by packaging engineers. For instance, the packaging must be compatible with existing machines and materials, and it must also meet the demands that stakeholders have set if applicable.


Graphics teams will need to adopt a more technical approach 

Pharma packaging developments can also include artwork. However, unless the product is designed to go straight to store shelves, there is little design work involved. While necessary, this step is arguably not a creative role but more of a technical one. The design of pharma packaging must include all of the necessary details to inform users what the product contains, where it comes from and also its name. The main challenge during the design stage of pharma packaging development is being able to design something that fits the constraints set by the packaging engineers and labelling project manager.


Proofreaders will be experts at their native language

A proofreader must have a strong command of written English to ensure that the packaging is legible. Their goal is to scan the literature of proposed pharmaceutical device developments to locate grammatical or spelling errors. Once an error is found, it’s reported to the labelling project manager and the errors are often corrected by the graphics artist.


External suppliers

In most cases, suppliers are contacted at the end of pharmaceutical device development to source raw resources, printers, manufacturing plants and so on. Suppliers will typically review the packaging design before accepting it and proceeding to mass-produce it for their clients. You’ll likely be sent a prototype or a sample of the final product and you’ll have the chance to accept it or decline it based on its quality.

These are the most common roles in pharmaceutical packaging development. As you can see, there are a number of different roles which are likely working in different departments. Teams must be able to communicate among themselves in order to save time and make the development process smooth. As the product may need to have new iterations developed when an error is found or an issue is raised, it’s common to see a back and forth between departments, ultimately leading to a slow collaborative process.


Optimising Pharmaceutical Packaging Development

A typical pharma packaging development cycle involves many different individuals and teams. As such, it’s important to optimise the development process by highlighting areas which are susceptible to disruption. Once these areas have been identified, it’s up to you and your team to optimise the pharmaceutical device development process in order to save time and money.


A strong and vocal manager is critical to the development process

With so many different teams and individuals involved in the development process, it takes a strong and vocal manager in order to lead the teams and keep everyone on the same page. Strong communication skills will go a long way when it comes to streamlining the work process. Ensure that the manager is involved in every step of the process and is able to constantly bounce between teams and keep everyone working at a steady pace. It’s also the manager’s responsibility to notice areas that are slowing down so they can reassign the workforce to focus on specific areas of the development process.


Highlight strengths in your team, not weaknesses

It’s easy to focus on weaknesses in your team as they tend to stand out more than strengths. However, it’s vital to take a more positive approach when it comes to delegating tasks to your employees. Keep strengths in mind and tap into their unique skill sets to optimise your team for packaging development. If you need to hire new people, make sure they fill in skill gaps in your team to make for a more balanced and well-rounded team.

The number one consideration for saving time is to put everyone on the same page. With so many different teams and individuals working together, it’s important to use your communication skills to ensure that your teams are collaborating efficiently. This is where it helps to focus on utilising different collaborative processes that can assist greatly in fast pharma packaging development.


Collaborative Processes That Assist in Packaging Development

Building an efficient collaborative process is the key to a fast packaging development cycle. When your team is on the same page and working together on the individual elements that make up your pharmaceutical device, you’ll have a much easier time managing your team while also creating a more streamlined work process.

Here’s what collaboration in your team could look like:

Project managers

While it’s possible to have a project manager overlook your pharmaceutical device development, having a decentralised system where individuals and teams are responsible for their own work can drastically speed up the development process. Instead of having a manager examine each individual submitted piece of work before the development process can move on to the next stage, a collaborative process focuses on putting more trust into the hands of individuals and teams.

Graphic designers

Collaborating on design means being able to share graphics and ideas with other designers. If a team of designers collaborates on a project, then there’s less chance for errors to slip past as you’ll have several people that are able to compare the current design to the specifications given by stakeholders and product engineers. Changes can also be made by each individual as designs are often split into several elements that can be modified separately.

Packaging engineers

Packaging engineers can benefit greatly from a collaborative pharma packaging development workflow. With a transparent process, they’re able to identify critical bottlenecks in the system and can work with individuals and teams to implement countermeasures. A packaging manager can also communicate with external suppliers to ensure that there is full transparency in the entire development process.

Collaborative processes don’t need to be limited to your own company either. In fact, there are platforms that can allow you to collaborate with engineers, designers and managers from other organisations.


Cross-Company Collaboration with Origin

To truly cut costs and save time with collaborative processes, it’s important to share your skills and knowledge with the industry instead of just keeping it within your business. Experimenting with cross-company collaborative processes allows you to create new approaches to packaging development, it allows you to learn from other organisations in the same industry, and it can support your team with a wide range of experts.

The goal of Origin is to provide an online portal that encourages pharma organisations to collaborate together and share new ideas, develop new pharmaceutical devices and find unique solutions for particular drugs. From the early concept stages to complete commercial-ready products, Origin’s customer-led packaging and device product program allows your team to work together with a larger pool of talent to greatly speed up development times and save money.

Embracing cross-company collaboration opens up countless opportunities to innovate and optimise with pharma packaging development. If you want to encourage your team to collaborate, then it’s vital to give them the right tools and help them network on a global platform that supports pharmaceutical device development. The more users that are a part of an organised and stable workflow, the more powerful the platform becomes and the easier it will be to develop new solutions for future drugs.

Take a look at Origin’s packaging and device development process: Design and Development Page