Accurate coding and marking in the baked goods industry

22 December 20144 min reading


Avoid package coding errors and minimize their impact on your baked goods business.

Correct product coding and marking is vital to manufacturers of baked goods. Consumers, business partners and the regulatory authorities demand ever more accurate on-pack coding and information. Therefore in today’s world, getting codes right isn’t just important – it’s crucial. This article explores the fundamental considerations that baked goods manufacturers need to undertake in order to avoid coding errors that impact their bottom line. PREVENT ERRORS A survey conducted by Videojet found that 50 to 70 percent of coding errors are caused by operator error, with the most common mistakes consisting of incorrect data entry and job selection. In response to this problem, many companies have introduced more checks during the packaging operation. However, this does not address the root cause of the issue. Coding errors affect product quality and drive unacceptable costs throughout the enterprise due to scrap, rework, regulatory fines, damage to the brand reputation and more. It’s in the manufacturer’s self-interest to understand the scope and cost of coding mistakes and take countermeasures to eliminate them. PREVENTING ERRORS BY DESIGN: MISTAKE-PROOFING CODING PROCESSES Baked Goods manufacturers need proactive solutions to address a variety of issues that may arise during the coding process. As production and packaging speeds continue to increase, it is even more vital to respond to coding problems before they happen in order to minimize the damage and costs incurred. There are two ways to deal with coding problems at the source, that is to say, the production line. First, is to proactively reduce the likelihood of errors; or secondly, try to catch errors when they happen, in order to minimize waste, then correct the error and get back to production as soon as possible. It’s important to remember it’s not a case of one or the other, it is an integrated two-pronged approach; even if you’re effectively preventing coding errors, you still need the ability to quickly respond if something goes wrong - in order to limit the damage. But clearly, resources invested in prevention will prove much more cost-effective, compared to the expense of remediation. In recent decades, manufacturers have increasingly turned from quality assurance, based on statistical sampling of products bound for market, to a more proactive philosophy of prevention. Often referred to as “poka-yoke,” this approach focuses on up-front process design. Lean manufacturing processes are created with fail-safe features that allow operators to immediately detect a mistake and correct it – or, preferably, prevent mistakes from occurring at all, regardless of the operator’s actions. CODE ASSURANCE: APPROACH TO CODING QUALITY Code Assurance is a comprehensive approach to preventing or eliminating errors in the coding and marking process. A Human Machine Interface (HMI) – including both hardware and software components – can and should be designed to simplify data entry and help prevent operator errors, both at code entry and job selection. By redesigning the structural flow of coding processes, operator interactions will be minimized therefore reducing the risk of errors, even to the point where automatic distribution of correct codes to the correct printers for the correct jobs, becomes the norm. The Code Assurance methodology relies on four basic principles which are integral to avoiding packaging errors. First, we recommend that manufacturers simplify message selection, so the operator selects the right message for the right job. Secondly, operators input should be restricted to the absolutely essential points of contact only. Thirdly, we advocate automating messages as much as possible, with pre-defined rules, to help prevent incorrect entries. Finally, manufacturers should use authoritative data sources – such as Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES), Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) or, other enterprise IT systems – so that the appropriate information is automatically sent to the correct printer, when the operator selects a job.
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