CODING AND MARKING AUTOMATION - a key part of the smart factory

apply labelling systems, these advanced systems can guarantee product compliance to industry standards, such as GS1 or EU FMD.

A HUMAN PART TO PLAY While the increasing presence of Industry 4.0 will see more automated technology employed across various packaging manufacturers, this will not necessarily negate the presence of a workforce. Packaging automation will free up human resource but it can also empower them to develop skills that can drive innovation and growth within the company. For example, instead of assigning staff

by Adem Kulauzovic, director of coding automation, Domino M

anufacturers of FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) and CPG

(consumer packaged goods) must produce uniquely identifiable codes for their packaged products so that resellers and consumers can check the authenticity of the items. This ensures that the product is genuine, not subject to recall or beyond its shelf life. The uniqueness of each code allows for the tracing of any faulty, damaged or unauthorised goods back through the supply chain to its source, so that the time or location of the issue can be identified. High quality, consistent coding onto

packaging and labelling is vital to this process. While coding and marking may seem a small part of supply chain procedures, errors in coding practices can endanger the traceability of the product, which can halt production. Removing these issues is of prime

importance to manufacturers. Specially designed and enhanced automated machinery that is ready to deliver repetitive solutions eliminates this threat and is a highly effective way of boosting the efficiency of packaging operations.

A SMART FACTORY With coding and marking such an essential part of the production process, its seamless amalgamation with other methods is imperative. More automated technology is present in packaging and processing than ever before. Machines, systems and tasks across the


factory and up through the enterprise are integrated and connected to the internet, allowing devices and machines to send and share data with one another. All information can be uploaded to an on-site or cloud-based system, enabling manufacturers to capture and analyse data throughout each stage of the supply chain and then manage each sequence as fast and as accurately as possible. Recent developments in cloud-based

software have seen the introduction of dashboards that can provide 24/7 access to up-to-date coding printer information, including ink levels and packaging line issues – this enables operators to make a quick decision, where required, at any time. Printer performance can be compared across the factory floor, enabling data retrieval for Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) calculations and help with pre-emptive maintenance, preventing breakdowns and unnecessary delays in the production process. Consistency and reliability is essential

and this is another benefit of machine automation. End-of-line packaging, for example, may sometimes involve human intervention, but research from Domino has discovered common errors in this area, including a team member missing a pack to label or even applying the incorrect label by mistake. Automated technology makes sure the correct label is put in the right place every time, making it easier to read and scan. In combination with high-quality print and

An ever-growing

population, coupled with stringent packaging legislation and regulatory laws means all packaged products need to be clearly coded

members to apply labels to packaging, they can be re-trained to work in other areas of the business. A member of the team who was, for example, applying labels to pallets could learn how to become a logistics manager, or study to become part of the engineering team. In fact, new job titles and qualifications

may become an industry standard as part of running automated technology and specialists will be tasked with monitoring these systems, making sure they are running proficiently.

INVESTING IN INDUSTRY 4.0 An ever-growing population, coupled with stringent packaging legislation and regulatory laws means that all packaged products need to be clearly coded and supplied accordingly – automation can help deliver on these requirements, while increasing OEE (Overall Equipment Efficiency) and reducing downtime due to errors and unforeseen maintenance issues. Before any decision is made on automated technology however, it is vital that organisations analyse their current manufacturing procedures and decide if a cloud-based, amalgamated approach is required. Time should also be taken to educate staff on the benefits of Industry 4.0 for the business, and how they can influence its growth. Offering greater control over coding and

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marking processes, and reducing production downtime and wastage, factory automation has the potential to increase overall business productivity and profitability. It is for these reasons that companies should begin internal investigations to decide where Industry 4.0 fits within their practices – those who do not react risk losing out on business to more forward-thinking competitors.


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