3 Clear-Cut Signs it’s Time to Consider Automated Print-and-Apply Labeling Systems
For production, shipping, and warehousing operations, new automation is usually deployed in order to cut costs and reduce labor. In many of these businesses, however, the act of applying labels to pallets and boxes remains largely manual because the associated labor seems so inconsequential.
However, there are plenty of benefits to be gained through the use of automated print-and-apply labeling systems, including the labor cost savings returned on the investment. If your company is considering automation, here are three tell-tale signs (involving cost, accuracy, and productivity) that you are ready to make the move sooner rather than later:
- One Error Too Many
Labeling errors can lead to costly mistakes in the supply chain – mis-shipments, missed deadlines, chargebacks, and expensive returns processing. Print-and-apply systems eliminate errors that can happen if product labels are preprinted and then applied incorrectly further down the line, resulting in chaos downstream (especially if you are using serialized or nameplated labels).
Preprinted labels that travel with a work order can get lost between the time they are printed and the time they are applied. Print-and-apply on the line at the time of application eliminates the potential for applying the label to the wrong product, as well as the possibility of the label getting lost.
- Speed and Productivity Not Meeting the Mark
Shipping operations are under increased pressure to get more product out at a faster rate and a lower cost, largely because of the adoption of e-commerce across markets and the expectations that large companies like Amazon have set around delivery. The only way for companies to keep up with these customer demands is through automation.
Print-and-apply systems improve accuracy and consistency, because automation is more accurate than hand application.
For example, the Panther Phantom print-and-apply system (with the Zebra ZE500 print engine) is incredibly accurate when it comes to product labeling—an accuracy that is hard to match in a manual operation. The Panther Phantom can achieve applicator placement accuracy within 0.03125 of an inch, with a maximum reach of up to 24 inches (tamp system) or 30 inches (swing-arm version).
- A Need for Cost-Savings
Is your packaging operation creating costs that are eating into your increasingly slim margins? With preprinting labels and hand applying them, there is the potential for label waste because you may print more labels than you need, or have to reprint labels that are mis-applied.
Automated print-and-apply also allows for better labor allocation, because you will need fewer workers to apply labels. You can then redistribute labor to areas where it is most needed.
Finally, automated print and apply can help you save on the cost of consumables because roll sizes for the labels and ribbons for print-and-apply are larger and are more cost effective, when measured in terms of cost per 1,000 labels.
There are clear, quantifiable benefits to deploying an automated print-and-apply labeling solution. While print-and-apply systems are a considerable investment, the expected life of the equipment on average is more than 10 years for average volume and environment situations.
If your company is still hesitant to do so because of a lack of internal expertise or understanding of the equipment, those concerns can be overcome by choosing a technology provider that is an expert in all aspects of moving from manual to automated processes.
With Miles Data, you can be assured the benefit of factory-trained engineers with thorough knowledge of the applicator, print engine, and labeling software, as well as experience in integrating the solution to your ERP or warehouse management software.