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Quality Vision

Nosco’s use of sophisticated vision inspection technology adds oversight and quality control for its pharmaceutical products.

June 2011 BY Jean-Marie Hershey
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Nosco, Inc. is high on quality. "Compliant or Complaint: Only I Make the Difference," a phrase coined by one of the company's employee owners, reflects the key role Nosco's Quality Lifestyle component plays in every aspect of the company's day-to-day activities. It encompasses not only Nosco's attitude toward the highly sensitive pharmaceutical packaging work it performs, but also the emphasis Nosco places on establishing trust-based relationships with external and internal customers, its habit of product innovation, and its single-minded focus on responsibility and accountability. It also extends to Nosco's strategy of acquiring the most advanced technology—including sophisticated vision inspection systems—to provide comprehensive quality across the board.

A pharmaceutical packaging printer since 1932, but founded as National Office and Supply Company in 1906, Nosco today has facilities in Waukegan and Gurnee, Ill. and Carrollton, Texas. It provides a breadth of products and services for high-end pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, ophthalmic, bio-tech, and medical device packaging. The Waukegan facility produces folding cartons, while the other two facilities produce pressure-sensitive labels and a variety of folded literature including med guides and other forms of patient information. One recent innovation developed by the company is called "Lit-A-Sure," a folding carton with an attached insert that eliminates the need for literature feeding on the production line. In fact, Nosco's new product development area has proven to be a significant value-add for its customers, representing roughly one-third of the company's $75 million in annual revenues.

"Nosco had a slight dip in revenue in 2008-09, but besides that we've increased revenue every year since 2004, and also have a revenue growth plan in place for 2012," says company president Russell Haraf. "That's because of our new product innovation and solutions engineering emphasis, which helped us weather the storm that the overall economy experienced with respect to more mature products."

Quality: More than a buzzword

Nosco's culture of quality has become a moral and ethical foundation for its entire operation, based largely on the fact that its parent company, Holden Industries, headquartered in Deerfield, Ill., is 100 percent employee owned. "Every employee in the company has a financial stake in our success, as well as a livelihood here," notes Haraf.

According to Vice President of Operations John McKeough, Nosco's culture of quality is closely tied to its Lean Manufacturing initiative, since it was a pre-existing condition on which the company was able to implement a process of continuous improvement. "Our Quality Lifestyle extends from what our customers can expect from us, and from each other," he says. "Having employee owners is wonderful when it comes to implementing a Lean Manufacturing toolbox and encouraging employees on the shop floor to bring forward their suggestions for improvement vociferously and often."


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