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Opinion Printing & Labelling
Controlled
investment
in barcode technology
is key for FMCG
Mark Beauchamp, European marketing manager for Citizen
Systems Europe, argues that now is the time for FMCG
companies to exploit low-cost barcode technology.
or many companies the rapid onset used throughout FMCG applications need
F
of a global recession affecting all More information to be able to withstand continuous use in
sectors of industry and commerce operating conditions that are often far from
has brought short to medium Companies at all levels within the FMCG ideal, and where the care of equipment and
term capital spending plans to a production and sales chain therefore have maintenance or cleaning is rarely considered
juddering halt. This is especially true of the the ability to store and extract far more of great importance.
larger scale corporate programmes that information within each barcode, or to
require significant investment in new hardware produce far smaller labels without reducing
or software systems, where the return even in the volume of data that would normally be Compact and robust
good times may not be seen for many years. held using conventional EAN barcodes. The
As a result, investment in new technology benefits include the ability to label smaller The latest stand alone printers, such as
such as RFID has generally slowed across or awkwardly shaped products, or to use Citizen’s CLP621 and 631, are small compact
the FMCG sector, as companies review their smaller labels, while making improve ments units, yet are built around robust metal
options for the immediate future. Although in areas such as product traceability and frames, with all major components such as
RFID offers potential benefits these are often stock management through the addition power supplies, Ethernet connections or
largely unproven in specific applications; even of batch numbers and expiry dates. wireless LAN cards being safely incorporated
where the advantages can be identified, RFID inside each printer housing. These
can still be difficult to justify when set against Realising the potential from the current housings are manufactured from advanced
the relatively high cost of implementation, generation of barcode systems depends thermoplastics, so will stand up to tough
business disruption and staff training. both on the skills with which they are adapted treatment, while the use of front, vertically
in each application and to the technology opening covers means that each printer has
Although RFID will undoubtedly have its day, that is used for their production. For example, a small footprint, so can easily be fitted into
right now companies are looking for simpler, print systems with 300dpi capability enable work areas without disruption. The front
more cost effective methods of reducing their higher definition barcodes to be produced, so opening facility, combined with carefully
cost base, while improving efficiencies overall label sizes can be reduced without a designed loading mechanisms makes it
throughout the manufacturing, distribution loss of data, which helps to cut both material quick and simple to change media, typically
and retail chain. One option is to adopt the and, in less than a minute; this compares with
GS1 DataBar barcode system, which has potentially, older machines where media replacement
been developed to complement traditional hardware can typically take five minutes or more, with
EAN/UPC barcodes with the potential to hold costs as no guarantee that the new media has been
far more data in standard label formats or to more loaded correctly with the associated risk of
condense information into much smaller sizes compact ribbons and label rolls either breaking or
of label. The advantage of this system, and printers can becoming twisted and jammed. The latest
indeed of existing 2D barcodes, is that they be used. printers can also be used with a diverse
have the capability to be developed still Just as range of media, from just 12.5mm to 118mm
further at minimal cost, while using existing importantly, in width, so DataBar and 2D barcodes can
hardware for printing and scanning bar labels. label printers now be printed on substrates such as
plastic or metal, making them ideal for
“Mark Beauchamp: Although RFID will undoubtedly have its day,
small identification tags and serial-number
right now companies are looking for simpler, more cost effective
methods of reducing their cost base, while improving efficiencies
plates, or for discrete product labelling for
throughout the manufacturing, distribution and retail chain.” use at the point of sale. circlesolid
www.logisticsit.com
MANUFACTURING
May 2009 &LOGISTICSIT
33
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