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Wallace Carlson Stakes Claim to the Pharmaceutical Packaging and Literature Market: A Case Study from MBO America

Press release from the issuing company

Directions Change:
Like many printing companies navigating the early 2000’s, Wallace Carlson had a successful general commercial business model and grew as planned. As the 2010 decade moved along, it became apparent that there had to be a focus to drive deeper into specific areas and be the best provider possible in those channels. So began the transformation. The goal was to have a more stable and yet diverse base, that was deeply rooted in channels they could master. The ownership group of Ann Turbeville, Brian Turbeville and Charlie Cox at Wallace Carlson, began transforming the general commercial print model of old, to establish them as a deep provider to the packaging, security and Insert, and most recently pharmaceutical packaging verticals. The unique pharma market requires specialty equipment and a long-term commitment. Their Komori printing press line-up was up to the challenge, and their HIPAA qualifications were in place, but finishing and folding the literature was a different story. Folding larger sheets of paper down to small “inserts” and “outserts” required a new process.

The Press System

WCP’s newest press is the Komori Lithrone G840P-H-UV-L with PQA, the industry’s top performing press. WCP was an early adopter of automation technology and outfitted the press well. It offers a maximum printing speed of 15,000 sheets per hour and delivers stable, high-quality print, on a wide range of sheet thicknesses, perfect for the new channels targeted by WCP.

The pharma outsert literature market usually works with thin papers, such as 27# pharma opaque, requiring a unique set of handling skills and equipment. The Komori KHS-AI integrated control system, automatic plate changing and the H-UV/H-UV L (LED) ink curing system shortens makeready time, cuts paper waste, and reduces printing time while maintaining the high print quality and high productivity that are so naturally characteristic of Komori offset presses. WCP is not only competitive, it outpaces the competition, involving any run length and quality expectation.

Valuable to any market, but ultra-important to pharmaceutical outserts, the integrated Komori PQA quality control system, checks for printing problems, on the run, on all sheets. Should an issue occur, the press governs itself to prevent defective sheets from entering the post press environment. Pharma quality is multifaceted and requires certainty that the right sheets are used to make the outsert literature, but also that the literature is legible and complete. Quality checks start in the pressroom and move through the finishing environment. The first goal is to only deliver good sheets to the finishing lines.

The Folding System

The H+H Insert/Outsert Folding System from MBO America is focused on the manufacturing of miniature folded, informational products. Inserts and Outserts are a specific type of folded informational product widely used in the pharmaceutical, veterinary, medical, clinical trial, cosmetic, chemical, and related industries. The common feature of the product is that it provides a vast array of Legal, FDA and Physician related information on a large sheet that is folded down to a small size to fit either inside (Inserts) or as an attachment to the outer faces (Outserts) of various cartons or bottles for the consumer. The printed sheet is usually made from a lighter stock (24# to 40# Pharma Offset) than seen in commercial printing which facilitates a smaller, lighter final product. Final fold size requirements generally range from 3”x 4” to 1.2” x 1.2” usually matching the internal or external package dimensions. Outsert type products can be produced using a glue closure method (most common), a tab closure method, or loose using the crisp folds to hold the final shape.

Because of the unique nature of the literature, the industry uses “panel count” to identify the size and type of the product. The panel count is simply the product of the number of faces across the sheet and the number of faces vertically on the sheet. Panel counts of 90 and under are used in products with less data to communicate. Panel counts that soar to 350 panels are reserved for more critical drugs and treatments requiring more information communicated to the physician and patient.

Because of the capability to make many folds in large sheets to get an exceedingly small final product, the folder technology is very specialized. H+H has a long history of providing highly productive, world class machinery for this challenge. Security, fold quality, consistency, and high production rates are paramount to this unique production process. To best facilitate the requirements, the folder system is built in a modular fashion with each module adding value to the final product. This modular approach allows for the use of creative integration needed for the current production demand and allows for addition or rearrangement to meet future demand.

The folding technology is certainly a feat in itself, but a deeper look into the folder quality assurance system proves even more valuable. Since the products are providing information to the physician and the patient alike, 100% accuracy and completeness is required. The press was able to check for correct and complete print on the sheet but the folder must do the rest.

The folder system checks quality for:
If the proper sheet was loaded and in the right orientation
If the sheet code is present, in the right location, and has the right data string
Whether multiple sheets were pulled to fold instead of one
If the glue was truly applied to the paper for closure

If all checks are good, the product stays in the stream and delivers. The final process is to make a final visual check and verify count then pack in secure trays for shipment.

WCP’s new folding system is capable of providing inserts and outserts for up to 110 panels with final sizes down to 1.26” x 1.14”. They are prepared for the challenges of growth in this market with a modular system that is scalable in the future.


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