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Being Environmentally Conscious in the digital age has a significant impact on retailers. With increasing consumer and global attention on reducing waste, in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, it is now more important than ever that brands focus on OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) of their manufacturing and production facilities. One of the objectives behind any OEE initiative is to reduce and eliminate the most common causes of equipment-based productivity loss in manufacturing, including availability loss, unplanned/planned stops/ performance loss, slow cycles, quality loss, and production rejects.

Reduce Waste & Improve Overall Equipment Effectiveness

Reduce stoppages, waiting times and over-production

Having the correct information on a product’s packaging is, for many companies, key to protecting and promoting their brand reputation. From traceable QR codes to expiry dates, coding and marking provides products with essential information for consumers and allows manufacturers and retailers to remain complaint. Whilst supply chain waste comes in many different forms, the late-stage configurations that coding and marking enable can incur a high cost of associated waste.

Manual coding and marking stations inevitably incur mistakes; even operators with a typing accuracy of 99.7% will typically make a mistake every 300 characters. As a result, recalls become necessary; regulators – such as the FDA – could issue fines; and, retailers may even cancel partnerships and contracts due to incorrect label information, such as erroneous expiry dates; not to mention the waste from products which need to be scrapped and reworked.

By automating the coding and marking process, manufacturers can reduce stoppages, waiting times, general materials waste, and over-production. For example, labeling templates can be populated directly from the data source eliminating the need for an operator to enter any text, which frees up time for more productive tasks.

In practice, products can be coded directly with data and job schedules from an ERP system, also removing the management of associated processes and documents – yet another cause of waste. Moreover, enabling the automation of job changeover ensures downtime is eliminated.

By removing direct human interaction from the process, coding stations won’t need to be checked for data accuracy after every job. Vision systems add an additional validation element to the process, guaranteeing that each code is printed on the correct place on the product. Coding automation with an integrated vision system ensures every print on the line can be checked for consistency and integrity in real-time, stopping the line instantly if an issue is detected.

Opportunity for personalisation

In a society where consumers are increasingly seeking more personalisation from brands, Coca Cola has responded to this with its ‘Share a Coke’ campaign. Coca Cola debranded the traditional logo, replacing ‘Coca Cola’ from one side of a bottle with the phrase ‘Share a Coke with’ followed by a person’s name. Although personalisation means smaller runs on the production line, it also involves more changeovers which increase the potential for time wastage, as well as more workers on the production floor. In this instance, it is so easy for waste to accumulate on a manual line. Highly personalised campaigns and products often come with smaller profit margins; therefore manufacturers can’t risk relying on manual processes. An automated coding and marking system will enable the efficient management of this process from start to finish. Coding Automation enables retailers to respond to increasing consumer expectations while ensuring a reduction in errors and providing the quality and reliability expected by retailers.

Tracking inefficiencies through automation

It’s time for manufacturers to take the issue of waste more seriously than ever before. Organisations need to be aware of how much downtime, waste, and scrap they are producing and identify the exact points within the supply chain where a sustainable approach can be applied effectively. Tackling inefficiencies on coding and marking stations through automation will help eliminate wasteful products and save time and money for manufacturers. The reduction of inefficiencies on production lines will also lead to manufacturers generating consistently higher quality products, which will help strengthen existing relationships with retailers, as well as facilitating the potential to manufacture more goods.

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