How to get the better quotes…

It’s a little “secret” in the label industry that when we don’t know key information, we have to be conservative with our assumptions. This means we have to add more cost to the quote than might be necessary in order to avoid losing money.  To get better, more accurate quotes (which can often mean better pricing) , here’s a list of what we need so we can avoid inflating a quote to cover our costs.

    1. Overall booklet label size?
    2. How many pages?
    3. How many colors in the booklet? On the base label?
    4. How many versions? What changes on the version?
    5. What is it being applied to?  Bottle, Box etc
    6. What is the application temperature?
    7. What is the storage temperature?
    8. Quantities?
    9. If it is auto or hand applied?
    10. What is the label unwind number?
    11. What is the max roll size?
    12. Is there something extra needed like variable code printing or bar codes?

We understand that not all the information is always available during the quote so don’t worry about not having all the information. We just wanted to make the point that more information will make quotes more accurate which translates into a smoother process for everybody involved. Happy New Year to you and your family.

Jeff Bertrand


The best way to label round containers

Round containers are a special challenge for booklet labels.

The standard booklet label won’t work because it is unable to curve beyond how it was made on press. This happens because the laminate on the top of the booklet is shorter than the materials below it. Since the laminate doesn’t stretch, the booklet bunches when it is made to bend around a sharper curve.  Aside from bunching, a standard booklet label on a curve is almost impossible to open.

The solution is what we call our Lam to Liner construction. The Lam to Liner  booklet label construction is open on one edge. If you notice in the picture above, the peel open edge lays directly on the liner rather than contacting the right base label. In effect, this style booklet label is open on one side which allows it to have zero stress when being applied. Once applied, it becomes sealed.  The Lam to Liner works so well because the seal is formed during the application of the label to the container rather than on press.

This is exactly how we handle label very thin curved surfaces with very thick booklet labels.

The FDA is attacking patient inserts again!

The Food and Drug Administration is going back at the patient insert industry (PI industry) that mainly involves pharmacists and other drug professionals. The newest proposal will require the elimination of the paper insert in lieu of putting it all on the internet.  This does not include those areas where the patient/consumer receives the PI directly.

 “The Food and Drug Administration (FDA or the Agency) is proposing to amend its prescription drug and biological product labeling regulations to require electronic distribution of the prescribing information intended for health care professional, which is currently distributed in paper form on or within the package from which a prescription drug or biological product is dispensed.” FDA is also proposing that prescribing information intended for health care professionals will no longer be permitted to be distributed in paper form with the package from which a prescription drug or biological product is dispensed except at provided by regulation. ”   FDA-2007-N-0363

This proposal is pointed at those companies that manufacture PI’s which are often glued to the top of large bottles of medication. The “bulk” materials are often repackaged in smaller containers to be given to patients/consumers.  (This is only about 4% of JH Bertrand’s business, but it is a very interesting story to us) The proposal is to require this information to be online only and to forbid it from being on the product package.

A year ago, this idea was part of a bill that was moving through the US Senate and House of Representatives. A few senators removed it from the bill (H.R.1919- Safeguarding America’s Pharmaceuticals Act of 2013) and the PI industry breathed a sigh of relief. Now, the FDA is back at it again.

PPLA which represents the manufacturers of patient inserts and a US senator ( Susan M. Collins) have written the FDA in protest of this proposed rule. They argue that shaky networks, power outages and rural locations will put patients and medical personal at risk. Furthermore, they argue that during natural disasters there may be no access to the internet. And, many communities around the country still have limited internet access. You can see that they have a point as power seems to be less consistent than it used to be. And, of course, every other day we are hearing about major computer system being hacked ie Sony Pictures being the latest creating huge issues for all involved.

Paper is bulletproof. It’s doesn’t need a computer or phone to be powered up to read it. It can’t be hacked. Paper is the best back up system that exists! Everybody can use it; All you need to do is be able to read.

Conversely, the FDA argues that professionals have wide access to the internet and that the patient information  in paper form is wasteful and unnecessary.

Certainly, JH Bertrand is on the side of the PI manufacturers as paper backup is being proven over and over again to be a smart move for all involved.  We hope the FDA will drop this proposal and follow what Congress debated and decided last year.

The location of the FDA document is

A tale of two snow storms…

On Monday, the Buffalo, NY metro area got hit with an intense lake effect snow storm that dumped 5 feet of snow (yes 5 feet not typo) in many areas south of the city. This created mass havoc in the southern area of the city with driving bans due to vehicles stuck everywhere. In the northern area of the city, virtually no snow fell.

We had many emails and calls from friends around the country asking how we were after listening to the “end of the world” media reports. They were very surprised to hear that we had only two inches on the ground. You can see in the second picture that there is a very clear line where the intense snow fall stops. This picture was taken about 1/8 of a mile from JH Bertrand which is why we didn’t have much snow.  The first picture is an employee’s car in the driveway mile away. Ouch!

Football is a game of inches. Apparently, snow storms are as well. Aside from missing a few key employees, JH Bertrand is functioning normally today!

The dangers of single source supply

The trend we see everyday in the labeling and packaging business is the desire to pair down the supplier base- sometimes to a single source of supply. The main argument is that is saves money by giving the buyer a bigger spend (more leverage) with fewer suppliers. It is also believed to make the supply chain easier to manage. Fewer moving parts as the theory goes.

But (and it is a big but), there is a significant downside. With fewer suppliers, there is risk that a “problem” could end up being a catastrophe for the buyer. One of the best examples of this is Lululemon and their single source of the Luon fabric. The company had a quality problem with their fabric from their single source supplier that forced them to do a major recall of their very popular yoga pants.  You may recall that the pants were too thin making it embarrassing for many who were practicing yoga with the Lululemon pants on. The company was forced to do a major recall, but had no other supplier to turn to while the supplier with the problem tried to solve the problem. In the end, they lost their long time CEO Christine Day who had grown the business 5x since she started. They lost 2 billion dollars of market cap on the day Ms. Day resigned.  The end result was a lost CEO, 2 billion dollars of market cap reduction and a blistering in social media that destroyed the image the company spent years earning. All this came from a very lean supply chain!

We’ve seen the same thing in the label business. A number of booklet label buyers in chemical and pharma have  elected to go to single source. The result isn’t quite as dramatic as Lululemon, but we have heard that those companies are getting inconsistent service which means missed deliveries and slower response times. If their single source plant is too busy…well….they just have to wait until there is press time.  That’s no good in today’s fast paced distribution networks. It could also mean something much larger if something happens to the plant like a sale, a fire, a natural disaster, bankruptcy, management change etc.

Smart companies realize that single source is a disaster waiting to happen. In fact, there is a counter trend now toward risk mitigation which is questioning the practice of trying to skinny down the source of supply to a point where a “hiccup” could cripple the company. Buyers should think twice about  making their supply chain too lean or they risk severely damaging their companies.

If you want to know more about the Lululemon story, there is an excellent write up written by the Stanford Closer Look Series. It’s called Lululemon: A sheer Debacle in Risk Management.

Hard copy is still the most bullet-proof way to offer important information

In the last 20 years, you couldn’t miss hearing or reading about somebody moving something from paper to electronic. It’s everywhere from coupons to online payments to newspapers to company brochures. Everything is going online. Nobody wants to use paper. It’s obsolete. It’s done. It’s not environmentally friendly. In fact, nobody wants to read something that isn’t on a computer screen or Smart phone right? Well, as with everything in life, what seemed to be a great idea is showing some glaring weaknesses.

Now (everyday) we are hearing and reading about huge network breaches. Home Depot, Walmart, Citibank, JP Morgan to name of few have had huge network break-ins opening up consumers and businesses to untold account fraud. JP Morgan’s breach affected 76 million customers alone. There are only 320 million people in the country!! Consumers and businesses are having to constantly change accounts or update passwords. Nothing seems secure anymore. There is a new saying that is going around the IT world:  There are two kinds of people- those who know they have been hacked and those who don’t know they have been hacked. It’s a funny statement, but it is proving to be very true. The high point of this problem was marked by a story last year where the Russians decided to buy typewriters to shut down online leaks. Typewriters!!! LOL! How things come around.

The point here is that  hard copy is a bullet-proof way to offer important information. Why put it on a shaky network where it is open to being hacked or where you need a device with power to read it? Hard copy is always there. It doesn’t take power to read it. It can’t be hacked. It will never go down. In a litigious world, hard copy offers peace of mind that the right information is getting to the customer keeping him/her safe while protecting the manufacturer from liability.

The next time somebody wants to put the product copy (eliminating the booklet label to save money the thinking goes) “in the cloud” and take it off the product package, think twice!

JH Bertrand names clinical unit Bertrand Clinical Label

JH Bertrand is pleased to introduce its  wholly owned subsidiary Bertrand Clinical Label. JH Bertrand has had a separate unit since 2001, but without branding it so. The company decided it was time for the unit to be recognized for its very unique functions.  “The clinical industry demands such specialized processes and manufacturing which our clinical unit addresses very well. It only made sense to make it a separate distinct entity,” remarks Jeff Bertrand.

Aside from a new name, it also has a new dedicated website BCL offers a very appealing value proposition …that booklet labels with random variable text should be less expensive that what is currently being offered in the marketplace which is detailed on the new website. “Clinical booklet labels with variable text are more expensive than average booklet labels because there is so much that goes into them to attain the proper quality, ” says Jeff.  “But, we feel that the pricing in the industry could more sensitive to the cost pressure that healthcare is facing. BLC addresses that very issue while maintaining the proper level of quality.” BCL will offer a complete line of clinical products which includes single ply labels to booklet labels with peel off labels for application to case reports.

The company plans on adding additional variable printing equipment next year to its already robust capability.

JH Bertrand exhibiting at Contract Pharma 2014

JH Bertrand is exhibiting at Contract Pharma again this year. Jeff Bertrand and Keith Schwertfeger will be there to represent the company. “Last year, the show resulted in a couple of large customers. Contract Pharma has always been a good show for us,” commented Jeff Bertrand. Please visit us at booth 116 on September 18th. The show hours are 10:00 am to 4:00 pm at the Hyatt Regency in New Brunswick, NJ. Come visit us!

A Special Father’s Day

Flying in a R44 Helicopter with my son Jack and friend (pilot) Jake.
Flying in a R44 Helicopter with my son Jack and friend (pilot) Jake.
Jack pushing the helo back to the hanger
Jack pushing the helo back to the hanger

lake-300x196Once in a while, you have a chance to live a special moment. On Father’s Day, I had the opportunity to fly with my son Jack in a helicopter piloted by a good friend of mine- Jake. What an experience!

When we got to the hanger, we had to check the helicopter carefully including adding some oil.  Once the check was over, my son pushed the bird out to our takeoff area.  It took a few cranks to start it up and then we were off.  A couple on bicycles stood at the end of the runway watching until we left. Everybody seems to love helicopters.

We flew 300 feet  off the ground our entire flight seeing amazing sites from a different perspective- green ow pastures, beautiful homes, lakes, small towns and waving people. Our hour long flight started in Hamburg, NY and stretched out to Rushford Lake (seen above). Often, we used the GPS on my Droid phone as our navigation instrumentation which is crazy when you think about how commercial jets are flown.  A few times, we followed roads to find our way.

Jake gave my son and me a special Father’s Day gift. The excitement stayed with us for days after. I am so thankful to have those special moments with my kids.

Jeff Bertrand