Coding and marking play a crucial role in manufacturing operations, as an inaccurate or missing code can lead to shipment issues, jeopardizing retailer performance targets, harming brand reputation, and incurring substantial fines.

However, it would be inaccurate to suggest that manufacturers overly fixate on the details of their coding and marking equipment or any singular machinery on their production line. Today’s manufacturers prioritize the broader perspective—aiming to maximize uptime and ensure continuous operation regardless of challenges.

Given the unpredictable nature of demand in manufacturing environments, Andy Barrett from Domino Printing Sciences explains how intelligent, interconnected services can enhance efficiencies. These services provide valuable insights for informed decision-making, promoting competitiveness, and bolstering overall performance and profits.

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Outcome-Focused Manufacturing – Changing Focus

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, manufacturers were already concentrating on the competitive advantages achievable through integration, automation, and big data—factors that contribute to reduced costs and increased productivity.

While the technology and benefits remain consistent, the recent months have shifted the focus towards adaptation, with an emphasis on survival. COVID-19 has expedited a transformation in the global manufacturing mindset. Traditional ‘break and fix’ approaches, centred on individual technology performance, are giving way to outcome-focused solutions that highlight the value of optimizing the overall performance of a production line.

The rationale is clear—during periods of unpredictable demand and high volatility, machine failure can be catastrophic, halting production until a fix is implemented. Solutions that enhance the overall performance of a production line mitigate the risks of machine failure, ensuring continuous operation.

This shift in mindset necessitates the availability of more comprehensive information on the overall health of manufacturing systems. Questions arise: Is the production line generating the optimal number of units? Are there indications of trends pointing to a higher failure rate in the equipment? Sudden or gradual changes in production performance may signal issues on the line.

In response to manufacturers’ evolving needs, forward-thinking hardware and software providers in the industry leverage data and insights facilitated by Industry 4.0 principles. These providers offer advanced services aimed at minimizing unplanned production downtime, reducing waste, enhancing performance, and maximizing profits.

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Digitisation, Sensorisation, and Optimisation

There has never been a more opportune moment to embrace new digital technologies for enhancing production line performance. As an increasing number of providers recognize the value of data acquisition in optimizing performance and uptime, manufacturers can harness these technologies without committing to full-scale smart factory solutions.

In the coding and marking industry, for instance, manufacturers can leverage various Industry 4.0-enabled technologies, advanced software applications, and cloud-based solutions to enhance production line efficiency and accuracy in product labeling.

Coding automation software plays a pivotal role in minimizing the risk of errors and eliminating production downtime during product changeovers by networking printers, automating job selection, and extracting data directly from databases, MES, and ERP systems. Additionally, integrated vision systems allow real-time 100% monitoring of print quality, offering insights into product throughput and rejection rates.

The integration of sensors within Industry 4.0-enabled technology, coupled with cloud-based services, empowers manufacturers to monitor and measure variables influencing production and coding performance, such as temperature, moisture, air quality, motion, and vibration. This sensorization can be advanced further to enable equipment to auto-detect issues through algorithmic predictions, facilitating early, planned intervention to mitigate the risk of unscheduled downtime.

Cloud-based services provide avenues for remote intervention and assistance, allowing service support staff to remotely observe machinery operations without the need for a site visit. Augmented reality applications offer options for remote intervention, enabling external service support to visually comprehend the situation on the line from the customer’s perspective. Such solutions expedite issue identification and resolution: external service engineers can guide production workers in implementing machinery fixes or conducting routine maintenance. In instances where a site visit is unavoidable, they can arrive prepared with the necessary tools, materials, and knowledge to address the issue promptly.

Information derived from analytics enables technology providers to alert manufacturers when their equipment might be underperforming, facilitating timely intervention before a line failure. For critical lines, this proactive approach allows manufacturers to enhance production planning and supply chain management by gearing up an alternative line without compromising overall performance.

The growing digitization and sensorization of production lines generate a wealth of data that can be leveraged to optimize operations and further enhance production line efficiency. Cloud-enabled solutions, including live reporting, offer the prospect for technology providers to transition from the conventional reactive ‘break and fix’ approach to the proactive and adaptive model sought by forward-thinking manufacturers.

In the future, it is likely that the capabilities of artificial intelligence and machine learning will enable manufacturers to identify additional areas for productivity improvement through in-depth analysis of historical and real-time data, scenario planning, and cost model simulation.

Domino worker

Sustainability Drivers

In recent months, the primary concern for manufacturers has been survival. Nonetheless, the ability to respond and adapt swiftly, in nearly real-time, to even minor changes in production performance will empower manufacturers to sustain operational, productive, and efficient processes amid volatile or unpredictable scenarios.

Moving forward, the wealth of data provided by Industry 4.0 and connected services will empower manufacturers to pinpoint precisely when and why intervention is necessary, along with how to implement it, ensuring minimal disruption to their production lines.

Simultaneously, as the world adjusts to the ‘new normal’ resulting from COVID-19, former sustainability concerns are likely to regain prominence. Therefore, possessing the technology, data, and insights to optimize efficiency and reduce waste across any production line, at any given time, is arguably more crucial than ever.

Adopting an outcome-focused approach to manufacturing is a collaborative effort that requires the convergence of hardware and software providers to unlock insights from Industry 4.0-enabled technologies, advanced software applications, and cloud-based services. This collaborative effort is essential to create and design new outcome-focused solutions. Since each manufacturer is unique, no two solutions in an outcome-focused services paradigm will be identical. Forward-thinking equipment providers will facilitate this transformation by transitioning into service suppliers, tailoring their solutions to meet the specific outcomes required by individual manufacturers.

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