Packaging Complexity Management: Part 3

Packaging Complexity Management: Part 3

Stock Keeping unit (SKU) and packaging component portfolio control is a critical activity for organisations. Ensuring the correct balance between a commercially advantageous portfolio, whilst minimising unnecessary pack and component variants is a challenge faced by many healthcare product companies as they grow their product range and expand into new markets. Therefore ensuring there are decision making processes in the organisation to manage required levels of complexity is a key aspect of effective pack management.

In this blog series I will describe key features of a complexity management capability in an easy to digest format. I hope you find this information useful. We are always searching for ways to improve our work, so if you have any feedback, please do not hesitate to contact me at

Packaging Complexity Management Tip 6: Control platform sizes

Do you define and maintain a set of standard platform sizes?

Components can come in multiple sizes and shapes and the challenge is how these can be controlled to an optimum number. Your approach to this will be heavily impacted by your supply chain design.

  • If you have a few global or regional factories, rationalisation can be targeted at a local level.
  • If you have a high number of factories supplying multiple dose forms to many markets, you will be presented with a significant number of inter-dependencies making rationalisation more challenging.
  • If you purchase finished products from 3rd parties, you may be restricted to each supplier’s standards.

Many companies will have combinations of all of the above, so you approach may be global, regional or by product/supply chain.

For printed packaging components, the challenge is to reduce the range down to the smallest practical number of profiles. This gives less profiles to manage and will aid line change-overs. It is also a pre-requisite for most types of late customisation.

Platform sizes are normally driven by the size of primary components and so it is often best to start with a rationalisation of primary component sizes and shapes to reach an optimum range of platforms.

For other components, such as spoons and measuring cups, try to rationalise to the minimum number of variants.

Packaging Complexity Management Tip 7: Standardise artwork templates and layouts

Are there standard templates and layouts for artworks?
Standardising the brand image, packaging artwork design and component sizes, permits the use of standard artwork templates and layouts.

In this approach, global or regional templates can be created including all of the standard design content. Areas for specific market or regional content can be provided on the artwork and these can be populated when specific local variants are required, either creating market specific artworks or as part of an on-line printing activity with semi-finished components.

This saves having to create a completely new artwork every time, which has obvious compliance benefits. It also ensures that areas such as overprint areas are always in the correct locations.

Furthermore it facilitates using tools to automatically add content to the template and automatically create the artwork.

Packaging Complexity Management Tip 8: Minimise fonts, illustrations and graphical elements

Are there defined standard fonts, illustrations, and graphical elements?
Artwork content such as fonts, illustrations and other graphical content can provide hidden sources of complexity. It is common for companies to build large ranges of content that needs to be stored, maintained and updated.

Proliferation of fonts may not seem significant, but licenses need to be managed and fonts need to be assured to ensure accurate replication across different platforms and machines. It also results in dilution of the brand image.

To control fonts, a defined house style set of fonts should be mandated within the corporate and brand guidelines with clear processes for the introduction of new fonts.

Similarly, illustrations and graphical elements should be held in controlled libraries with standard images for particular uses.

This is the third of a series of 7 blogs giving a view of methods to deal with packaging complexity. Should you have any questions about this or any of my other blogs, or would simply like to request a copy of my booklets, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly on my email.