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Automatic Print Inspection: Why Every Manufacturer Should Consider It

  • By Charles Bryan
  • September 23, 2019
  • Cleaning Products
  • Beverage
  • Beauty & Grooming
  • Food
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The efficacy of your coding operations can make or break your business. Automatic print inspection brings consistency, speed, and accuracy to your codes, slashing the risk of illegible codes and false rejections. For busy production environments, unreliable coding could cost hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Coding errors can be hard to spot at the best of times. But in the Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) sector, it’s almost impossible. FMCG production lines move fast. Example: it’s not unusual for canning lines to run at speeds of 2,000 cans per minute. If you have a line operative checking the veracity of the code on a can every 30 minutes, you are essentially checking one can in every 59,999.

That’s a problem. 

Coding errors are incredibly costly. Product recalls can cost hundreds of thousands of pounds and endanger multi-million-pound contracts with buyers. The good news is that we have entered the era of automatic print inspection – no more incomplete, incoherent, or illegible codes. Automatic print inspection brings consistency to your coding operations while eliminating false rejections and removing the risk of product recalls caused by coding errors.

What is automatic print inspection?

As the name suggests, automatic print inspection systems automatically detect coding errors and inconsistencies. Most systems are easy to set up, fit neatly into production environments and only require minimal training. However, you would still need to consider elements such as tracker boxes or reject stations.

Examples of coding errors that may arise during manufacturing

Above: A variety of coding errors could end up on your products, ultimately affecting customer-facing brand packaging, as well as overall manufacturing efficiency and traceability.

Reduce human error

It’s thought that a human operative will produce ten mistakes for every 600 coding entries. Human error is also inevitable when it comes to checking codes, where it’s possible for incorrect codes to slip through the net. Besides, manually checking for errors is time-consuming and frustrating. Therefore the adoption of automatic print inspection reduces the risk of coding errors and allows you to reallocate human resources to other areas of your production facility.

Identify machine error

Sometimes machines go wrong. Whether it’s through natural wear and tear or a poorly followed maintenance schedule, your coding technology could produce illegible or misplaced codes without you knowing. Automatic print inspection catches every error, every time.

Save money

Re-labelling or recalling a print run can cost hundreds of thousands of pounds. It’s a costly error...

Save brand reputation

...and that’s before you’ve factored in the money you could lose from the loss of faith in your manufacturing and packaging operations. There is an increasing demand for consistent coding from buyers – particularly in the FMCG sector, where manufacturers can incur stringent consequences from retailers when there are coding and labelling errors.

Save time

The time you spend relabelling a product is time that you could have spent coding something else – and time is money. The best automatic print inspection systems process inspection images in extremely short cycle times (we’re talking milliseconds). That means the best technologies can work with all line speeds – even demanding canning and bottling lines.

Full audit trail

The best automatic print inspection systems create comprehensive reports and audit logging based on the data they collect. These can either be stored within the application itself or forwarded elsewhere via internet connection. This gives you an auditable trail right through your production run.

Conclusion: why is automatic print inspection important?

Coding errors can be costly, causing problems that range from line stoppages and reruns to product recalls; as line speeds increase, the possibility of undetected coding errors multiplies. Automatic print inspection is a smart and simple way to validate the accuracy and legibility of your codes, helping to protect your bottom line, enhance the efficiency of your operations, and ultimately safeguard your brand.

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