In the packaging domain, there exists a hierarchical structure akin to Russian dolls. The tertiary packaging encompasses the secondary packaging, which, in its turn, encases the primary packaging. Unlike Russian dolls, each of these tiers necessitates labeling with barcodes. Pallet labelling specifically refers to the practice of labeling tertiary packaging, usually a pallet, with two or more barcodes to guarantee traceability as products advance through the supply chain.

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What Makes Pallet Labeling Essential?

Precise and easily legible codes on pallets play a vital role, containing details about the product, its quantities, supplier information, serial numbers, batch numbers, and other pertinent data. This labeling is crucial for tracking within a warehouse or distribution center, where scanners must quickly and accurately interpret these codes. Well-placed printed labels on different parts of pallets facilitate seamless scanning, thereby improving logistical processes, ensuring inventory management, and leading to time and cost efficiencies.

Typical Issues Encountered in Pallet Labeling

Efficient pallet labelling requires accurately printed labels applied to each pallet swiftly. Achieving this efficiency calls for the automation of the labelling process. However, many companies still choose manual labelling, which can be highly inefficient. For instance, warehouse personnel might unload a pallet, dismount the forklift, walk to a computer for label printing, return to the pallet to manually apply the labels, rejoin the forklift, and then relocate the pallet for storage or transportation. This manual method results in significant time wastage, impacting overall profitability. Additionally, manually applied labels may not be perfectly aligned or adhere to GS1 height guidelines, posing potential issues later on. Incorrect label placement and failure to meet these guidelines can render the labels unreadable by scanners. If scanned inaccurately, your inventory may face rejection, leading to further time loss and possible fines.

Key Challenges in Pallet Labelling

To manage the substantial volume of generated pallets, a labelling system must consistently print and apply labels accurately, reducing production costs and ensuring a smooth product flow throughout the supply chain. Even when following GS1 standards, one of the primary challenges is ensuring that your labels meet your customers’ specifications and seamlessly integrate with their existing systems. Understanding your customers’ requirements and effectively adapting your pallet labelling is crucial. Therefore, flexibility in the number of labels attached to the pallet is essential. While the GS1 guidelines generally cover the needs of most customers, variations exist, with some requiring only one or two labels, while others may need three or more. Adhering to these guidelines involves precisely applying labels in the designated locations, ensuring they are square and free from uneven edges or creases. The automation of your pallet labelling process ensures consistently accurate label placement.

Other Aspects to Take into Account in Pallet Labelling

While achieving consistent and clear labelling presents its challenges, several external factors in the process require consideration. The environments that your tertiary packaging traverses can influence the labelling process. The labelling needs for packaging in a damp environment will be different from those in a dry environment. For instance, facilities handling wet beverages will require stainless steel cabinets to protect them from humidity (see details below).Stainless steel cabinet around Domino M230i-P150 pallet labeller In contrast, aluminium cabinets are suitable for areas with dry conditions (see details below).
Aluminium cabinet around Domino M230i-P150 pallet labeller

Temperature fluctuations can present challenges, necessitating the use of climate control kits or heaters to consistently maintain a suitable environment. Given the substantial information on these labels, it is vital to consider the capabilities of both your software and your customers’ software. Effective communication between the pallet labeller and palletiser controls is crucial for stopping and advancing the pallet once the label is applied. Typically, this information is stored in an Enterprise Resource Planning system (ERP) or Manufacturing Execution System (MES), utilizing the Domino Command 41 protocol or Domino’s QuickDesign software for seamless integration. The conveyor systems employed at various stages of the pallet’s journey may differ in height, speed, and the number of stops during palletisation and stretch wrapping. Hence, an adaptable and easily adjustable system becomes paramount. To address these critical issues and avoid costly errors, a versatile pallet labeller that can be effortlessly configured to comply with GS1 and customer standards is essential.

The Solution – Domino M-Series

Utilising Domino’s advanced technology, I-Tech, the M-Series labelling system guarantees accurate coding by consistently printing and applying perfect labels on your secondary or tertiary packaging. The M-Series provides the versatility to attach multiple labels per pallet, needing only 1 or 2 stops and accommodating different label sizes. It effortlessly adjusts to your needs and integrates smoothly into your current production line. With a robust printer equipped with 600m of ribbon and synchronized replacement of the label roll, along with an intuitive touch screen UI, the pallet labelling process becomes notably faster compared to manual label application.

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For more information about how the Domino M-Series can speed up your package labelling and reduce overall costs, contact us today.

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