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Three Keys to Finding the Right Packaging Design Firm

June 12, 2024 | Steve Yoder

There is no shortage of packaging design firms. Most are presumably competent. Since the pressures of time and cost are always present, it is easy to choose based on the premise that convenience adds value. The ability to meet in person, play with prototypes, etc. can streamline and clarify details of the design process. Likewise, the appeal of the “low bid” can trigger a desire to jump on board. Before you sign a contract, remember that easy factors do not automatically equate to an optimal packaging design relationship.

Selecting a partner must start at the 50,000 foot view, then assess incrementally all the way down to the fine print. Success depends on finding an agency with the competencies best aligned to your pharma product.

I have found three important keys in engaging the ideal resource for your medical packaging project:

1. Choose Specialized Medical Packaging Firms.

Look for a proven record of creating highly custom pharma packaging systems. Can they discuss both physical packaging properties and regulatory requirements for your product? How much experience do they have with products in the physical form of your medicine? Do they demonstrate deep knowledge of your markets and supply chain? Do engineers demonstrate mastery of translating from prototype to scalable production?

Examples of packaging design considerations include moldability, machine ability, and whether automated sealing equipment applies (parenteral products). For solid oral dose medications, is there any scientific background that may indicate unique factors? Are there 3D-modeling capabilities to bring additional security and confidence to the process?

By working with a resource adept at addressing design inputs while prioritizing overarching goals (such as sustainability) you are likely to achieve greater efficiency and cost effectiveness of the packaging design.

2. Confirm Agility.

Maybe there is a desire for packaging to be structured around a certain design requirement before it is known to be scalable for production. If a single input is to drive the design, ask in advance how the input would be addressed midstream if a block arose. For example, if tasked with delivering a smaller overall packaging footprint down the road, could labeling content be adjusted accordingly?

I recommend a strategic, inclusive and transparent approach that analyzes requirements early and often to better manage unforeseen shifts. 

3. Rank and Monitor Inputs.

I have found wisdom in establishing a priority order of all design inputs at the outset. Ranking is invaluable when something unexpected occurs, because the hierarchy gives direction to resolve the glitch. When talking with design firms, introduce this tactic to prospective packaging partners and gauge their receptiveness. Is the team willing to participate? 

Ideally, the checklist should be monitored and updated regularly to confirm that all inputs are executed, with a record of when and by whom. It is a collaborative process that involves everyone: the full pharma and packaging design teams.

In closing, medical packaging design is always pushed to keep pace as the global healthcare landscape evolves. We operate in a climate of warp-speed transformation. The magnitude of change underscores the importance of working with a dedicated medical packaging firm able to hit the ground running. Taking the time to thoroughly vet and challenge design agencies may take more effort up front, but will always pay off in the end. 

Steve Yoder, Business Development Manager, at Oliver Design
Steve Yoder
Business Development Manager.

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