Home > Business intelligence: Code for success in labelling, marking and coding Part Two

Business intelligence: Code for success in labelling, marking and coding Part Two

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This the conclusion to a two part article on ways in which to make your labelling, coding, and marking operations more sustainable and cost effective. To read the first half of this article, click here.

The lean approach: preventative maintenance  
Potential benefits - On a closely monitored line, you have more information about the condition of your coding equipment, so naturally you can discover what's causing the breakdowns or stoppages more quickly. 

You also eliminate the risk of unplanned downtime and increase plant utilisation.    

There's no "I wonder what it really is" assessment (and cost) because you have up-to-date, real-time information. 

When your product is coming off the line with first-pass quality assurance on both it and its coding, you avoid the expense and hassle of rework.  

Preventative maintenance is also a major factor in increasing your coding equipment's life. (I can think of numerous manufacturers with in-line printers that are 15-plus years old, despite the "expected life" being five to seven years).  

The costs - Expect to pay a monthly fee, the costs of which are determined by your choice in company and plan.   

Another way to sum up the benefit of reactive over preventative maintenance is this: the reactive approach is like letting the oil run out in your car. 

It's far more expensive to blow a gasket than it is to get an oil change regularly. 

With so many variables, expenses pile up quickly, even for smaller Australian manufacturers who are looking to keep expenses low and grow relationships with retailers.   

Online quality system  
Another way to give your business a sustainable competitive advantage is by having a quality system -- or vision technology -- running on your production line.   

Vision inspection systems, when combined with the right software, provide intelligent image recognition, giving a business the high level automated quality assurance it needs during production and packing. 

This continuously evolving technology cost-effectively ensures products are fit for purpose, and any potential for mistakes is eliminated.  

Manufacturers can spend a great deal of time, energy and money checking products manually; but vision systems allow for appearance, character and defect inspections -- and coding checks -- to be done automatically, and it can also mean reduced overheads in terms of staffing.  
You can implement vision systems in a range of different environments, to do a range of tasks, from quality control to quality assurance and even process control. 

Vision systems can inspect, identify, count and measure products across many different sectors -- from food processing and pharmaceuticals to heavy industry. 

For instance, in food and grocery, systems can be programmed to check labels, barcodes, caps, bottle rims, product formation, use-by dates, tamper seal, lids, label match and product orientation. 

The system will let operators know of any issues when they happen, so they can be rectified before the product is shipped.  

Vision systems can now be incorporated into other production line technology, so your automated solutions work as one. 

Any faulty products can be redirected to be fixed or rejected if the error can't be fixed. 

For any business owner, preventing costly recalls for products that aren't shelf-ready yet are shipped anyway, is invaluable.  

The systems can also be used for process control to sort products based on their specific markings, and inspect them, ensuring the packaging contains the content it should at the correct levels. 

Industrial applications can include checking parts or components or even details like the amount of glue on edges for sealing.  

There are many ways manufacturers can give themselves a sustainable competitive edge. 

Understanding TCO on your coding and labelling equipment, using preventative maintenance and quality systems on line, are three sure-fire ways.  

*Matt Nichol is a laser-marking expert with Matthews Australasia.   

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