AWS for Industries

Esko enables increased speed-to-market and quality for Life Sciences companies

Life Sciences companies are facing mounting pressure to reduce go-to-market time while retaining high quality standards in their products, labels, and leaflets. In such a demanding market that is prone to change, these companies need the right solutions to streamline their processes.

Esko has been investing in R&D and working with key Life Sciences customers to develop tools that help manage their labeling. These tools ultimately support a more streamlined, error-free labeling process that reduces manual steps and the possibility of risk. To build these tools on the cloud in a secure and scalable way, Esko needs trusted partners like Amazon Web Services (AWS).

“Choosing a cloud service provider is a critical decision to be able to provide the right solutions for our Life Sciences customers,” said Joel Depernet, President at Esko. “AWS has a proven track record of reliability and scalability. With their extensive global network of data centers, we can trust that our applications will be available to our users around the clock and across the world.”

Esko develops software in their areas of expertise: packaging, label design, and the content process. More specifically, WebCenter is the labeling management and collaboration platform. The content, such as barcodes, text, color, symbols, ingredients, and more is already managed and used in WebCenter. Therefore, Esko developed the product to extend the reuse of this content into other forms, including leaflets, IFUs, regulatory content for Health Authority submissions, and more.

Many Life Sciences companies use manual methods of managing their labeling and content, which doesn’t lend itself to scale at the pace of change. The information is kept in Microsoft Word or Excel and is controlled at the local level, instead of being managed in a centralized, accessible solution. With more steps and more documents in more locations, it is difficult to control and track processes.

Ansell, a worldwide leading brand owner in health and safety protection solutions, was previously taking anywhere from 60 to 90 days to create a package with manual ways of managing communications, versions, and approvals for various languages, size, and region variations.

“Ultimately, streamlining processes can only advance so far with manual workflows. To make that next step change, technology solutions are required,” says Jackie Leslie, Esko Life Sciences Category Specialist. “Simple workflow and task management solutions, all the way to rules-based engines and automation, are now being used to manage data and processes required in this sector.”

“We’re seeing more and more interest in streamlined, integrated solutions from labelling through to artwork. Five years ago, these products were still considered leading edge, but now they have become more mainstream.”

In the case of Ansell, the company adopted WebCenter to manage packaging pre-production specification, approval, and project lifecycle. Through this solution, they were able to reduce their time to create a package by about 50%.

“The world’s need for better protection never stops, so Ansell is constantly researching, developing, and investing to stay on the cutting edge of product innovation and advancing new technologies. Adopting WebCenter, Ansell supports that effort. By improving our processes, delegating decision-making, and co-locating R&D and manufacturing staff, we have reduced packaging production time by 50%,” said Will Credicott, Senior Specialist Digital, Corporate Communications & Marketing at Ansell.

“Our previous process took anywhere from 60 to 90 days. Now, our goal is to have a package produced in half that time. In some cases, we are able to implement a change to a package in as little as 21 days,” said Eric Humbert, Ansell WebCenter Project Manager for the Medical Global Business Unit.

Esko continues to develop WebCenter to extend the re-use of content and further streamline the labeling process for Life Sciences companies, while helping them make the shift to digital. This shift relies on hosting software solutions in the cloud to enable digital transformation, a shift that more and more pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers are embracing.

The centralization of labeling content allows Esko to create functionality for Life Sciences companies to be able to easily perform impact assessments. By storing this content in a structured way, companies can pull content for impact assessments to reuse in new products or variations of products where applicable.

“This can be as simple as artwork creation and approval workflows to manage all the various stakeholders involved or can extend to managing the labeling content in a Structured Content Management (SCM) model,” says Leslie. “Including the automated preparation of submission-ready content for Health Authorities.”

“There’s a record of authentication,” says David Smith, Esko Technical Product Manager. “It enables us to do an impact analysis – for example, we can do a search and see where a certain statement is used.”

“WebCenter offers the ability to perform an impact assessment of a labelling change and provides an easy-to-use interface for managing changes quickly and easily. It helps manage complex market variations and label versions, streamlining the change process.”

Moreover, this speed-to-market does not have to come at the expense of quality. In fact, the centralization of information and content makes it easier for Life Sciences companies to track their versions, variations, and processes in a compliant way. A strong cloud foundation for labeling and artwork management tools mean Life Sciences companies can be assured that they are working in an environment with the highest security and compliance standards while simultaneously increasing speed-to-market.

Another example of Esko leveraging the power of AWS is the creation of a scalable microservice that automatically generates packaging images for eCommerce. By combining a 3D model with an approved artwork, Esko uses AWS’s cloud computing capabilities to render computer-generated images (CGI) from different angles, file formats, and resolutions. This microservice architecture allowed for easy integration with multiple Esko applications, reducing development time and costs.

To best serve their security and compliance minded Life Science customers, Esko selected AWS, the cloud with more security standards and compliance certifications than any other offering. Using AWS has also allowed Esko to quickly scale to meet the increased demand from customers. By using Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS) for the components of WebCenter with spikey demand, Esko can rapidly scale up certain services when required, and subsequently scale down as demand abates. Using cloud elasticity allows Esko to provide their customers with an optimal user experience, and in a cost optimized manner. The WebCenter user experience is paramount for Esko’s customers, and thus to Esko as well. Application response time is a visibly important aspect of the WebCenter user experience. Consistently providing the same optimal user experience to their globally distributed customers was at times a challenge for Esko. To address this, Esko employs AWS Global Accelerator for these customers. Global Accelerator optimizes WebCenter’s network performance and thus the application response. This has led to a more consistent user experience for Esko’s global customers, from Europe to Australia.

“When we were looking for a cloud partner, an important factor for us was security features and compliance certifications. AWS provides a comprehensive set of tools and best practices to make sure confidentiality, integrity, and availability of our data.” says Depernet. “AWS also has a strong commitment to compliance with certifications such as SOC 2, which is critical for our enterprise customers. We are excited to continue working with AWS to deliver innovative solutions.”

“There are proven ways to introduce these types of solutions, including a phased approach to gain benefits over time,” explains Leslie. “In the long run, there are efficiencies to be gained and, more importantly, many of these systems and tools mitigate risk.

“As the industry evolves, we’ll continue to see the need for technology solutions that are flexible enough to handle unique company requirements but are also progressively improving and expanding features with a focus to streamline processes and remove risk.”

“AWS also offers a wide range of services, including machine learning, analytics, managed databases, and other managed applications,” says Depernet. “These align with our technology stack and will help us continue to offer innovation to our customers in the Life Sciences sector.”

WebCenter is a memory intensive application. When hosted in an on-premises data center, Esko is limited in the compute instance types it has available to run it. On AWS, Esko can select from hundreds of EC2 instance types. These include those optimized for workloads requiring large amounts of memory to deliver optimal application performance. For their cloud services, Esko selected the memory optimized r5ad.large instance type. Therefore, whether it is a single user or a dozen users viewing graphic files on WebCenter, each is receiving the seamless user experience they have come to expect. Graphic files can quickly grow in both size and volume. Cost-effective data retention was a challenge for Esko when in an on-premises data center. However, on the AWS cloud, Esko uses the virtually endless capacity of Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), and its 99.999999999% data durability. Additionally, by employing the Amazon S3 Glacier storage class, Esko plans to implement a data-tiering strategy that optimizes their cost, without sacrificing data-retention duration or application performance.

Esko is proud to partner with AWS to offer customers a superior experience and stay ahead of the curve in the packaging and printing industry. The decision to use AWS services has allowed Esko to redesign software for easy deployment and operation on the cloud. This has resulted in more streamlined and efficient processes for customers, and the use of Amazon S3 for storage has proven to be reliable and cost-effective.

Sino Yousef

Sino Yousef

Sino Yousef is a Principal on the Customer Solutions team at AWS. He is passionate about helping customer’s envision transformative business outcomes, and utilizing the power of the cloud to accelerate their attainment. He has held roles in enterprise engineering, operations, and leadership. Sino has a Masters in Technology Management from Georgetown University.

Adrián Fernández

Adrián Fernández

Adrián Fernández has been working with brands, products, and packaging for the last 28 years. For 10 of those years, he served in product and general management roles at Newell Brands and Rubbermaid. He later joined the Product Identification group with Danaher Corporation and has been in the packaging industry for the last 18 years. In his most recent roles, Adrián led the packaging business at X-Rite, providing solutions to specify, formulate, and measure color, followed by his appointment as general manager of Pantone, the global leader of color tools and services. In 2021, he joined Esko, first in charge of packaging solution development for SMB consumer brands and most recently taking the role of chief product officer for the whole business.

Jijo Dominic

Jijo Dominic

Jijo is a passionate leader and product strategist. He has a vast background in development, management and defining strategy for new products and solutions for the Industry. He has been with Esko for more than 20 years. He is part of Esko-Brand Solutions’ leadership team and is leading the Product management team. Jijo holds an MBA in International Management and a Bachelor's Degree in Engineering.