o Will the label be bumped or rub against other boxes? Your facestock, varnish, and ribbon will be factors.
o Does it need to display ingredients or chemical names for legally-mandated periods? For example, chemical barrels are legally required to be readable 10 years after they get lost in the ocean!
If you have any of the factors listed above – or any of the others listed in this blog post – but did not consider them when choosing your label and/or ribbon supplies, then it is possible you are experiencing quality issues (or will at some point). If you’re a manufacturer, you should also read this post about how to select the right supplies for product ID applications.
- Printer Output vs. Capacity
Is your printer able to print at its advertised pace and speed? Many users find themselves slowing down the pace of printing because the quality suffers at top speeds. But this issue can also be addressed with a different label and ribbon combination, designed for high speeds while maintaining high quality. (You can read more about the solution here.)
- DIY Modifications
Like any good “Lean” analysis, a “Gemba Walk” to your printers and the stations where labels are being applied might reveal problems that don’t appear where you normally expect to see them. Some typical DIY “solutions” you might find might include:
o use of additional glue or tape to ensure they adhere better.
o marking up with colors or other visual cues to reduce errors.
o adding a second blank label underneath to improve visibility.
o bagging RFID tags to improve readability on metal objects.
o relabeling due to inability to scan.
o excessive printer downtime from poor maintenance.
Non-standard (and entirely unproductive) steps in your labeling processes like these are indications you have the wrong label/ribbon combination or a maintenance issue.
What Else Does “Lean” Say?
There is one additional angle that matters when looking at your labeling process. While a typical audit of your process will follow the path of the label, its quality, and the like to identify waste, the paths of the people who create and apply the labels must also be included in the process.
You’ll likely find the biggest source of waste comes from the location of your printers relative to where the labels are being applied. If your team has to walk to a centrally located printer to get the labels needed for their work, you need to consider the value you might gain from transitioning to either traditional mobile printers and/or cart-based mobile printing solutions. Footsteps result in wasted time, as well as unnecessary fatigue.