Technical errors versus human errors with labelling and artwork- important you treat them differently

In my previous blog post, Working with your external partners to ensure an effective response to an artwork related drug recall, I talked about the significance and impact of labeling and artwork errors in your company. In this blog I discuss the importance of recognising you need to respond to the type of errors differently and how you might future proof your process to make such errors much less likely.

When performing an audit of your current process it is important to root cause the type of mistakes made and determine if they are caused by human error or caused by technical problems.

Artwork errors caused by humans versus technical ‘machine’ issues

Root causing errors in your process will almost certainly give you some common failings. A classic human error example is misinterpretation of the requirements of an artwork change where the end result is not what the person had intended when they gave their input.  Another example would be where the leaflet artwork has been checked but not proof read correctly or perhaps a proof reading step has not been included and the text is incorrect.

A technical error example would be where a work flow software package has been utilised but a system error has caused the wrong version of the file to be used. Another technical issue could be where proof reading software has caused an error by lacking the functionality to read text embedded in illustrations, but users not being aware of that limitation.

When future proofing your process or responding to existing issues – how you might respond?

With technical issues it is important to recognise that software packages come with limitations, so it’s critical to understand these from your vendor and put in extra checks as required. Software validation is key to verify the system works as intended and should pick up configuration and functionality errors before implementation.

Regarding human issues there are three things to consider:

  1. Remove the ambiguity factor by introducing standard processes with checklists to remove the potential for interpretation and ensure you comprehensively train everyone in those processes. Key when designing the process is identifying the high risk areas and putting in robust steps.
  2. Address the lack of discipline factor – consider that some errors are caused by people not following the process for various reasons and embed controls to ensure the process is followed with rigour.
  3. Recognise the limitations of the human brain which has a tendency to ‘fill in the gaps’ when reviewing text and support them with effective proof reading processes, training, checklists and tools.

In the next blog we will be considering this topic further with some more insights into the designs and controls in your artwork process.

To help you in your Artwork Improvement Program, you can also find useful information in my book Developing and Sustaining Excellent Packaging Labelling and Artwork Capabilities

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Developing and Sustaining Excellent Packaging Labelling and Artwork Capabilities Book

Should you have any questions about this or any other of my blogs, or would simply like to request a copy of my booklets, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly on my email.

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