Small and medium-sized food & beverage manufacturers face food packaging and label accuracy issues. When they find that one of their products becomes popular, there are production issues that may crop up.
Often, manufacturers may experience a jump in defective and inaccurate output. As seasoned producers are well aware, larger food chains attach penalties to defective products, including forcing the manufacturers to absorb the cost of the freight to return the rejected items to the factory. It’s important for your business’ health and growth, to be able to meet the prerequisite labeling requirements as your production volumes expand.
Even production systems that can absorb higher capacity don’t automatically kick up speed without a careful plan to expand production. Many small-line processes rely on hand-labeling which is labor intensive, can create a bottle-neck in the line, and is susceptible to error. Installing automated labeling systems which can be accomplished with some basic equipment upgrades, and often the ability to offer the food chain’s labels with embedded RFID tags enables you to sell into the larger food networks. Here are some basic steps that we take at PaladinID
1. Develop a Viable Plan for Automation:
We start at the end of the process and work our way backwards. We look at every aspect of the packaging line to see where automation makes sense and where it can physically be implemented. By studying and understanding the entire process, we make recommendations on how to streamline and improve the workflow. We start by looking at the palletizing functions at the end of the flow and then walk the line back to where the product is made and then to where and how the raw materials are brought onto the line.
Our goal is to design a system that will improve the overall workflow instead of only approaching it from an “automation” perspective. We not only determine what needs to be solved today, but we also can plan for the needs 1,3 and 5 years out. The equipment can be capital intensive, so it is a good idea to design the automation plan for the long run.
2. Introduce or Upgrading Technology:
Understand that food packaging and label accuracy requirements and specifications that have been established for supermarket, drug store and big-box chains that may be purchasing your products. End-of-line verification solutions are becoming standard equipment for food and beverage manufacturers. Initial basic RFID ecosystems can easily be expanded over time to grow into more robust systems. The goal is to ensure correct packing selection and date coding from the onset. Also the ability to nimbly change label content for seasonal offers and multiple nameplates is important. Automated label verification plays a big role in streamlining the final phase of the production process.
Often, as manufacturers are investing in new desktop and mobile label printers, selecting barcode label printers that will manage capacity, handle quick change-overs and work with RFID embedded labels is a key part of the automation process.
RFID scanning stations and portals are also easily integrated. Installing fixed readers in the boxing and packaging sections is often the first step. We like the HYDRA system from Alien Technologies, which is designed to keep initial implementation costs to a minimum, as well as simplifying the introduction of an RFID ecosystem.
The key outcome you need to shoot for is to verify the product is properly labeled and packed to fulfill every order. Affordable end-of-line verification solutions provide food and beverage manufacturers with a robust system to ensure correct packing selection and date coding
By implementing automated quality assurance measures as part of the automation system, you’ll be reducing the amount of product returns and penalties assigned to the receipt of defective products from the food store chains. Additionally, you will establish your business as an approved and reliable supplier for other products.
At PaladinID, we’re delighted to see our customers evolve as their businesses expand. We are proud to be part of their growth and development. We hope you’ll consider PaladinID for your next labeling project. Contact Dana Ritchie Phone: 888.972.5234 Email: dritchie@PaladinID.com