Pharma Packaging Firm Executes Complex Job With Tight Turnaround

3C! Packaging tackled a complex project containing five separate components, totaling more than half a million units, in approximately 36 hours—all over a Super Bowl weekend.

Tight deadlines are a fact of life for packaging and printing solutions companies servicing the pharmaceutical industry.  Often, these companies find themselves waiting for materials and verbiage to be approved by customers against a ticking clock for order fulfillment.  They are the middle men, the go-betweens, the conduit connecting a pharmaceutical company’s wishes to its packaging lines’ demands.

Most deadlines are manageable to meet.  Others are more challenging.  And every once in a while, a project arises whose deadline seems impossible.  This was the case for 3C! Packaging of Clayton, North Carolina, this past February, when 3C! faced the challenge of producing five separate components from the same top-five pharmaceutical company over the course of a weekend – totaling more than half a million units in approximately 36 hours.

Joe Elphick, president of 3C! Packaging, tells PMPN that he believe his company's reputation and past performance helped secure the project.

"We have worked with this company in the past; but, not in any sensitive launch scenarios," he says. "I believe our past quality levels and our constant on time delivery gave them a sense of reliability in us."

Elphick adds that while he knew the tight turnaround would provide a challenge to his staff, he felt confident at the outset that his team was up to the daunting task.

“I think that project stepped right up to the brink of physical impossibility.  There was enough time to print the units and ship the units – and that was it.  The execution needed to be absolutely flawless for us to achieve our standards of quality and timeliness.”

It was the work that was done ahead of time that mattered.  Collaborative meetings, a thorough review and re-review of product specifications, and having the equipment available at a moment’s notice were just the beginning.  From there, 3C! Packaging performed trial runs of various launch components during the scant downtime between other pressing projects, and implemented a raw materials plan incorporating not only quality, but quantity and physical location of each quantity – all toward the goal of saving as much precious time as possible without sacrificing exemplary customer service.

And in the interest of going the extra mile, 3C! Packaging executed an all-hands-on-deck manpower strategy – including sales executives, customer service representatives, graphics teams, pressmen, folding crews, quality assurance specialists, shipping personnel – that ran full shifts not only over the weekend, but what was, essentially, a holiday as well.

“It was Super Bowl weekend,” said Elphick.  “Now that’s dedication.”

In the end, final approval came through shortly before 6:00 AM on Saturday, February 4.  Only then, it suddenly did not.  After starting the step-by-step process of proofing, color staining and printing, the operation was halted again due to a last-minute revision.  The machines started up again shortly thereafter, and continued running overnight and all through the next day, with the last bunch coming off the printer as Super Bowl XLVI blared in the background.  And as mandated by the client, all five components were delivered by Monday morning to the packaging lines to be filled with product.

In any launch that involves contract manufacturing, there are always two teams: the customer’s team and the contracted team that its company hires.  The tighter the deadline – the more perfect the execution must be – the more important it becomes for those two teams to coalesce.  Using an exhaustive game plan and realistic drills, 3C! Packaging ensured that its team seamlessly became one with its customers.  The only thing left to do was to go out and execute on Super Bowl Sunday.

Source: 3C! Packaging


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