Color Label Solutions

Color Label Solutions

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Work-In-Process Color Labels

Akorn ( is a niche generic pharmaceutical company engaged in the development, manufacture and marketing of multi-source and branded pharmaceutical products in the areas of ophthalmology, antidotes, anti-infectives, and controlled substances for pain management and anesthesia in the United States and across the globe.

At their Ophthalmic Manufacturing location in Somerset NJ, Akorn needed a new process to label their work-in-process inventory.  According to Rick Westerhoek, Manager of Materials and Warehouse Operations for Akorn in Somerset, “Our raw material and finished goods inventory is “Quarantined” until tested and “Released”.  We also mark our raw material inventory as “Material Sterilized” after returning from sterilization from a 3rd party vendor.  Plus, we need to mark other inventory “On Hold” during additional testing.”

In the past, Akorn purchased preprinted labels, stored them in inventory and printed the variable data with a serial matrix, pin fed printer.  “Purchasing thousands of labels in different colors was a real pain.  We had red labels for Quarantined, green for Released, orange for On Hold and blue for Sterilized. 

Every time we need new labels, we have to reload the printer in the printer, print and then hand stamp to record who made the decided on quarantining or releasing the inventory.  Hand stamping was a particularly cumbersome manual process.  Or we would have to manually fill in the variable information” says Rick.

To improve this process, Rick started to look for way to print color labels on demand; which led to our paths crossing.  Initially Rick purchased a TM-C3400 printer, labels and Label Flow ( from Jolly Technologies.  With IT support from Fausto Tavarez, Network Administrator, Akorn developed a process to produce the various labels only when needed.  In addition, Fausto included a system to stamp who approved the quarantine or release of the product right on the label automatically. 

Rick says “the labels are much easier to produce and read than our previous process.  I especially like eliminating the hand stamping; this saves a lot of effort.  Plus, Label Flow adds numbers automatically which help us keep track of the labels we produce.  We print only those labels required; and we don’t allow any printed labels to lay around.”

Since developing this application, Akorn has purchased a TM-C3500 to duplicate the setup in the QA department.  “the TM-C3500 is much faster than the TM-C3400.  It works great.  But since we print only a few labels at a time, the TM-C3400 works just fine for us.”

After Rick and his team has started using the print on-demand color label solution, Akorn India has contacted me to duplicate the setup.  However, Epson has not released the TM-C3500 in this country as yet.

If you need to manage work-in-process inventory, you might find these earlier posts of interest:

If you need to label your raw material or work-in-process inventory similar to Akorn, learn from them.  We can help you build and integrate a print on-demand color label process in your plant as well.

Guy Mikel

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