Mergers and Acquisitions: Labeling Part 2 of 2

Okay, your goal is clear. You have eight months to absorb 4,000 labels into your system. The company you acquired managed their labels as artwork. Your database of labels is pdfs of the labels themselves. 

You had a year to get your product information out of the shared systems, but labeling is never a priority, so you lost four months Your integration manager is having a hard time getting the artwork files. It turns out the products you acquired were initially created by two different companies, and came together as one at the division you acquired.

Half the labels are available. These are the labels that are strictly Adobe Illustrator files with spaces for lot level information. The other half are “family” type labels. These labels are a combination of Adobe Illustrator files with blank spaces for size information that gets pulled from a product lifecycle management system (PLM) at the time of printing. 

Someone is trying to figure out how to get the “family” plus PLM information as a pdf and it is proving to be very difficult. The legacy company verified these labels by using a specification plus information from the work order at printing, and no one can figure out how to provide work order level information to you outside the production system.

Here’s what you need to do. Obtain all of the information available as it is currently constituted. Get back the time you’re losing waiting for the solution to whatever is holding up the information.

Get all the pdfs for all the artwork, complete or not, and parse that information into an Excel spreadsheet. Historically, you would do this by transcribing the data from the label. Today, the best practice is to use the Network Partners FALCON AI tool to automatically parse the information from the labels into an Excel spreadsheet. FALCON parses this information virtually instantaneously and with unmatched reliability.

Once the spreadsheet is created, you can see the gaps in information you’re missing. Now instead of waiting for a multi-departmental solution from the acquired division, which is a process to marry lot level information from different systems to complete a label, you can make a very specific request of a single department for information that is readily available, including sizes associated with a specific REF number.

Even before you get the missing label components, you can start formatting the labels. You should create as few formats as possible, and you should incorporate any rebranding at this point.

After the missing label components are received and the formats are confirmed and approved, you need to verify that the labels moved from the legacy systems to the new system have the same content, except those elements that you meant to change.

Historically, you would have two people with strong attention to detail compare the two labels side by side for comparison. The labels would be printed off and applied to a label comparison sheet. Both people would sign off on the labels and this would be the objective evidence that would be attached to the change notice. 

Today’s best practice is to use Network Partners FALCON AI tool to compare the legacy and new system labels for content comparison. FALCON, with its AI technology, can automatically find the two versions of the label for the same REF number and compare symbols, barcodes, and text strings. It produces a report that lines up each label element and either indicates whether an element was added, deleted, modified, or remains the same. This objective evidence not only shows the labels side by side, it shows the total deconstruction of the labels as well.

Again, where it may take 15 minutes to collate, compare, and scan a label for inclusion into a change notice, the FALCON identifies 95% of the label and drives the time down to a minute or two. Again, this is significantly more reliable than a strictly visual comparison.

In summary, get the label content under your control as quickly as possible. You are the motivated individual, so don’t wait for someone else to do your job. If you’re dealing with labels saved as artwork, use FALCON to parse your data. And lastly, after formatting, use FALCON to compare the labels to confirm that the only differences in content are the differences you intended to make.

Written Chris Heckert, Senior Director of Labeling Solutions at Network Partners. 

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