During a recent industrial automation event, I realized once again how important it is to remind the various players in the manufacturing and distribution industry that product identification is much more than just printing barcodes on labels.

Automation and robotics

To situate you, I participated in an event organized by the Regroupement des équipementiers en automatisation industrielle (REAI) (an industrial automation equipment manufacturer association). On this occasion, the Montreal-based company, Axium, announced with great fanfare the signing of an exclusive 35 million dollar contract with Symbotic, a branch of the American distribution giant CSWG, the largest distributor of food products in the United States. The company serves more than 4,300 stores throughout more than 50 cities in 14 states, with sales of 21 billion dollars annually.

According to the contract, Axium is to supply its solutions of robotic depalletization and palletization of products. This is an efficient way to transport merchandise through a network of smart conveyors towards a highly automated warehousing system of individual boxes, all in preparation for the next step. Once the boxes are stocked, they’re chosen individually by an optimization software program, and then transported towards a mixed palletization system. This is the automated process for each order received.

Systems like these that use vision and barcode reader systems improve the productivity of the transportation and warehousing processes by reducing labour costs and maximizing storage space.

As you’ll see, these systems are only possible if the boxes have a barcode label with the identification information of the product.

3,300 products per hour

Axium’s solutions can treat 220 rows of palletized products per hour for an average of about 3,300 products per hour, and for up to 120,000 different references! (One reference being a product or a certain number of that same product packaged together.)

Such level of performance is impossible to attain if the labels on the boxes are not properly applied, not perfectly printed, if the barcodes cannot withstand the rigours of shipping and don’t allow for flawless scanning in a few tenths of seconds or less.

Imagine a scenario where your box was removed because its label was peeling off or the barcode was poorly printed. Exceptions like these are always possible. But if this situation repeats itself, you might have to pay a fine or even be demoted from supplier to ex-supplier.

Continually informing and educating the market

When exchanging with other participants at the REAI event, I realized how important it is to remind manufacturers and solution integrators about the significance of choosing labels and solutions to make barcodes. These elements are too often taken for granted. The choice of supplies and services related to this operation is done isolated from the rest of the project. Often, compliance is neglected. Don’t make this mistake!

To be sure that your merchandise isn’t put aside for reasons related to your labels or the quality of your barcodes, consult the experts at IMS to review your processes, supplies, the grading of your printers, equipment and your data capture solutions. We’re here to provide you with comprehensive consulting services and to get you the best supplies on the market.