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What Does Packaging Design Automation Mean?

Updated: Sep 21

The packaging market is busy and highly competitive. The technological revolution has allowed companies to mass-produce and reach consumers all over the world. Satisfying consumer’s needs and keeping things fresh comes with the constant expansion of a product portfolio. Not to mention the rising popularity of both packaging customisation and personalisation to win consumer’s engagement.


Yet, the above requires generating and updating high volumes of accurate and compliant packaging graphics, meaning companies are facing new challenges.


Employees - designers, marketers, engineers, product and process managers - and even agencies, are to do more and more daily. They need tools to manage the same processes quicker and maintain premium quality at the same time.


That’s why packaging automation is becoming a new market standard and necessity.

Read more about it, and decide whether it is the best solution for your company too.


3 Facts about the Traditional Packaging Design Process


1. It takes a long time to see results.

2. It costs much more as the prepress companies need to secure payrolls of hundreds of employees = it’s all covered in their service costs.

3. You are not in complete control over your content and/or aware of what information your packaging includes. Are you?


Traditional Design Process in (Many) Steps


STEP 1 : NEED


Ok, so that’s how it goes. It all starts when you need packaging graphics.


STEP 2 : BRIEF


You turn to an agency to prepare packaging artwork designs for you. You need to send them a brief of what's needed first though. There are lots of people involved in the internal process of creating the brief. Packaging engineering, designers, marketing, product managers, nutritionists. All the “knowledge holders” providing content for that single piece of artwork.


STEP 3 : WAITING


Finally, it's on. You forward it to the agency and then... keep on waiting for any visible results, losing precious time to market.


STEP 4 & 5 : DESIGN APPROVAL AND ADJUSTMENTS


The process of creating the brief taken together with communicating and waiting for an agency start piling up. The agency creates all the packaging variants and then passes them for your approval. After which they adapt them to various types of your packaging - bottles, tins, cans, and boxes in various sizes and materials.


STEP 6 : NEVER-ENDING-STORY


A few weeks have passed, and you finally get to see the output. We mean, its initial version. Not including all the upcoming amendments and updates in case any small detail changes along the way. In which case, the process gets looped… again.


All of the above takes weeks in which you lose time to market and considerable sales in revenue. (Yes, we did a case study, and we’re happy to share it with you! Contact us for details).


Are you aware that you could create and amend all of these artwork variants yourself? But this time, it would only take a few minutes and cost a fraction of what you're currently paying. You’re just missing the tools to easily execute and control the process from beginning to end.


Here Comes Automation


When it comes to packaging design automation, the first part of the process doesn’t change. You still need to create new product packaging designs. It’s the next steps that bring a crucial difference.


What makes automation unique is the shift in execution. It’s not about making or amending individual artworks each time anymore. It’s all about having your Brand-Maps (templates) that allow you to create and update hundreds of packaging variants in minutes. All of which are consistent with your company’s branding and meet legal compliance requirements.

*All trademarks remain the property of their respective owners


How Does The Automation Process Looks Like?


*The automation process described below relates purely to MYPACKBRAIN's solution. Our experts have more than fifty years of experience in the packaging and prepress industry. Having identified that the market and traditional service companies cannot fully address today's fast-paced needs, they created a unique fully automated packaging graphic design process.


STEP 1 : BRAND-MAP


It all starts with creating a “Brand-Map”. It is a packaging template reflecting a unique set of your company’s brand requirements related to each packaging design. It takes minutes to hours to prepare one.


It all depends on your design complexity. It is the longest part of the process, but it is also crucial for automating and reducing all actions to minutes downstream. It can be managed by you or outsourced to MYPACKBRAIN’s prepress experts.

STEP 2 : DONE


That's it. Afterwards, everything gets fully automated. After creating your unique packaging Brand-Maps and defining variable content, you become self-sufficient in generating new artworks for each packaging variant.


Now, it’s you who are empowered to create, update and amend your packaging whenever needed. As you have regained control over your content, it’s easy to create packaging artworks and their multiple variants even at the very last minute. This can be aligned to last-minute supplier change or reacting to market forces, packaging customisation for example.


Packaging graphics for fifty different flavours or scents? Five minutes, and consider it done!


2 Ways to Create Packaging Artworks

  • Do everything yourself. Manually, but still in minutes. The whole creation process is intuitive and easy to follow.

  • Make system-to-system transactions so no human is involved in artwork creation or amendments.

1: Creating Artworks Manually is Effortless


You can empower an unlimited number of authorised users to create and update your brand’s packaging designs. Anyone involved in artwork creation gets assigned access. In the end, you know what’s needed, and now you have the tools, too. There’s no need to involve third parties anymore!

All "knowledge holder" users taking part in the packaging design process: design, nutrition, marketing, regulatory, supply chain, consumer relations

The solution guides and controls each user’s actions to ensure that created artworks are brand-compliant. There’s no second-guessing what’s on your packaging anymore and if the branded assets used on the packaging are always up to date. The system controls every detail to eliminate errors. What's more, the whole process is monitored and audited, meaning each action is recorded and analysed. It helps with the traceability of changes and further optimisation of your workflow processes.


2: Going System to System is Seamless Too


As the system carries information in JSON format, it’s easily understood by other systems. You can integrate smoothly to trigger artwork automation from in-house systems whether that be PLM, Content Management or even Esko’s WebCenter.


Artworks are created on demand and sent back to your system within seconds.


Do You Know What Content is Currently on Your Packaging?

You Should.


In the past, companies were operating on a small number of packaging artworks. Nowadays, these amounts are significantly increasing, often reaching several thousand. Labels, tags, cartons, shampoo bottles... All these graphics are distributed around many different artwork suppliers. At some point, it's easy to get lost with where and which assets are used on your packaging.

That's why automation brings content management back in-house.


Imagine you need to update an existing packaging artwork. Even better - you need to update all the versions and variants of your existing packaging due to regulatory changes, promotional actions, or simple graphic amendments. It's overwhelming and confusing, isn't it? In reality, you can do it in minutes.


Automation allows you to control the process from beginning to end. It includes controlling all your content and digital assets. It allows you to stay in-the-know by understanding every element of your packaging. You’re in full control.


Just log in and do it yourself. No briefs for the agencies. No waiting. There’s no hesitation or second-guessing if the content used is correct. Our software has everything under strict control of the system and related to your requirements and guidelines.

You have a complete overview of what is happening with the packaging and assets across your global portfolio without any effort. How powerful is that?


Big and Small Picture : 2 Levels of Automation


Let's say there are two - macro and micro - levels of automation. As a result, it gives a very wide spectrum of things that can be automated. From every single step of the process to all those tiny single details of your packaging. The sky is the limit. Yes, you can automate anything you want!


1. Big Picture :

Automate Each Step of the Packaging Design Process


Think of the process as a whole - from beginning to end. There are so many steps that can be automated:

Automate the whole process straight ahead, or follow "mix and match" approach - start partially and then gradually keep on automating missing bits. It's up to your needs and preferences.


Having the right tools allows you to keep everything transparent, audited and under control. This way you can analyse and optimise your processes even further!


2. Small Picture :

Automate All the Details of Your Packaging (Even Back of Pack!)

In the end, there are so many different packaging designs involved when it comes to product management. It’s not only the primary packaging you see on the shelf but also the outer case cartons in which the products are transported to supermarkets. If your company still pays agencies for creating outer case cartons or shelf-ready packaging, it’s time for a change. It’s so easy to generate them fast, including barcodes, logos, product name, etc. Even back-of-pack can be automated. You can automate every single detail of the packaging that's needed. So why increase costs by paying agency fees, if you can do it faster internally for much less?


How Come It's so Cost-effective?


Traditional prepress companies hire and secure the payroll of hundreds of people.

When you have the right tools and become self-sufficient:

  • there's no external people you need to provide for

  • there’s no more amendments or approval loops

No more waiting, often not helped by back-and-forth communication between all external parties. The process is simple and quick.


The increase in time-to-market and savings are incredible. You manage the process internally and can generate print-ready packaging artworks in minutes. So not only do you decrease your operational costs for artwork creation, but you increase your revenue from delivering products to market much faster than you currently are, too.


It's as simple as that.


What Are the Benefits of Automating Artworks? [In the Nutshell]


4 Main Benefits

  • Increased time-to-market. Yes, you still need time to create brand-maps; However, once they're done, it cuts the process of creating packaging variants to minutes and for a fraction of your current costs.

  • Reduced costs even up to 50% per project.

  • Staying in control of your process and content.

  • Avoiding errors by minimising the number of human interactions in the process.

All That Comes with It

  • Automating any detail you want. From every step of the packaging design process (artwork and content creation, translation, and workflow management) to individual elements of your packaging (even back of pack).

  • Amending packaging artworks an unlimited number of times by an unlimited number of users. The assigned users just log in and amend graphics with a few clicks. Everything under the system’s strict guidance for full brand compliance. No more measuring ‘right-the-first-time' metrics, just amend when you need to!

  • Broad-spectrum of graphic editing capabilities and storing digital assets: marketing and legal statements, logos, promotional flashes, nutritional and ingredients tables, fonts, and much more. It's all there, and up-to-date!

  • Customising and personalising packaging cannot get any easier.

  • Fully auditing each action for transparency and process optimisation. Everything is visible on dashboards and user-configured task boards.


Who Should Automate Packaging Graphics?


Any company dealing with high numbers of artworks will benefit from these solutions. Due to the high level of security and control, automation works even for the most demanding sectors:


If your company deals with any of the below challenges, it will profit from artwork automation solutions:

  • Demand for creating and updating many packaging artworks in a short period

  • Excessive time to get the results (e.g. due to waiting times, revisions, and amendments).

  • Many product variants in a portfolio (flavours, colours, scents, etc.)

  • High costs or exceeding budget due to using prepress agencies

  • Difficulty managing unstructured files, assets, and versions

  • Unable to track assets across your brand portfolio

  • Translating packaging into various languages takes ages

  • Customising and personalising packaging seems a hassle, not mentioning last-minute changes

  • Poor process transparency; Lack of audit, version control, or monitoring the process of artwork creation

  • You operate in an industry where staying on top of all the regulatory changes and brand compliance is a must


Questions, Thoughts, Ideas?


If you’d like to discuss how MYPACKBRAIN can help you improve your processes through automation, just get in touch with us. We’re happy to give you an overview of how it would work specifically for your company.

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