The importance of packaging compliance in the supply chain cannot be overlooked. Consumer packaged goods need to meet packaging compliance to adhere to global and government regulations and retailer standards for product safety. When manufacturers fail packaging compliance, they can be subject to significant penalties and fines, suffer loss of customers and reputation, suffer supply chain inefficiencies, and more.
In this blog series, we’ll break down how to achieve packaging compliance, naming four key considerations, and examining each of those aspects in detail.
There are a number of different product identification solutions available to manufacturers, such as:
It’s important to pick the best marking and coding technology for the product in question in order to achieve packaging compliance. By taking the time to understand print message and application requirements, manufacturers can begin to compare compatible product identification methods and equipment.
Ensuring manufacturing codes are printed on products is not enough by itself to achieve packaging compliance. The codes need to be checked to make sure they are present, accurate, and scannable. All three levels of message validation must be met to achieve packaging compliance.
If the code didn’t print on the package, packaging compliance is not achieved. If the code is present but the information printed is not accurate, packaging compliance is not achieved. If the code is present and accurate but is not scannable, packaging compliance is not achieved.
Incorrect date, batch, or barcodes applied to products can also be a result of human error. However, using a central database of product coding information to automate print message creation can minimize instances of user error. Companies can do the heavy lifting when it comes to variable print message editing and selection by utilizing:
Managing the integration of data down to the production floor allows for manufacturers to seamlessly and efficiently ensure the right information is being printed on the right products – ultimately helping manufacturers achieve automated compliance.
Achieving guaranteed packaging compliance requires more than selecting the most optimal product coding technology and the right level of message validation. To ensure high quality real-time manufacturing codes are printed consistently, proactive material handling best practices need to be in place. Improper material handling can cause codes to print incorrectly and inconsistently.
Proper material handling when working with coding equipment includes proactive measures such as:
Manufacturers also need material handling reject systems to sort out non-compliant packages. Once non-compliant packages have been identified, manufacturers can correct the packaging and improve their material handling process.
Failing packaging compliance can lead to unpleasant consequences, including supply chain inefficiencies, losing customers, negatively impacting company reputation, and potential fines and penalties from retailers and regulatory agencies. But by keeping these four key considerations in mind, your business can achieve guaranteed packaging compliance.
Have more questions about compliance? Talk with a Diagraph representative today.
Or, read more in-depth to discover what you need to know to select the right solution for your business in our next post, How to Pick the Best Product Identification Solution.
To achieve packaging compliance, manufacturers need more than picking the right product coding technology. Data management and packaging control and automation add another level of sophistication to an operation’s compliance practices.
Incorrect manufacturing codes can be applied to products due to human error or improper material handling practices. But manufacturers can rely on data connectivity and good data management practices to handle variable print message editing and selection.
Data management is part of Industry 4.0 -- by using data management and connectivity to manage data integration on the production floor, manufacturers can automate the correct information being printed on the correct products, which is an important step in ensuring packaging compliance. Specialized printer management software can make this process seamless.
One-way data management allows manufacturers to use existing databases to automatically fill in data for print message formats. The populated codes are sent in real-time directly to the printer. By using a central database to link and populate batch, date, and barcodes, user error can be minimized.
Manufacturers can use two-way data management to receive feedback in real-time that will allow them to improve their operational processes:
Making sure the right manufacturing codes are being printed onto products is one half of the printing process. The other half is to make sure that the packaging substrate is presented consistently to the coding technology to be printed upon. Among other consequences, improper material handling can lead to codes being printed inconsistently and incorrectly.
Material handling measures that can minimize printing errors include:
However, even with these measures in place, incorrectly printed products can still occur. Which is why it is important for material handling reject systems to be in place in order to detect non-compliant products before it reaches the retailer, or more so, the consumer. Packages with incorrect codes printed on them can sometimes have the opportunity to be reworked with the correct manufacturing codes instead of being scrapped completely, which is a less than ideal situation from a production throughput and financial standpoint.
Some features of reject systems can include:
And by evaluating the material handling processes regularly, the processes can be improved over time so fewer packages fail packaging compliance in the first place.
For manufacturers to achieve packaging compliance, implementing data management and good material handling processes are recommended, along with using the right product identification solution.
Working with a partner that has an understanding of material handling best practices and how to utilize data management to optimize operations can help manufacturers better achieve packaging automation. Manufacturers should also seek out partners that offer a variety of product identification solutions, support beyond installation of equipment, a network of conveyor and vision system partners to create turnkey solutions and training for maintenance staff. The combination of all these factors can set up manufacturers for success in packaging compliance.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our blog series on how to achieve packaging compliance. Check out the other posts here:
What: The US food industry is the leader for flexible packaging with the market continuing to grow with an expected 3.9% CAGR and valuation of $392 billion by 2023. Flexible packaging currently accounts for 19% of the packaging market – second only to corrugated paper. Advancements in slider closures, fitments, and improved barrier properties are driving preferences amongst both manufacturers and consumers.
Why: The flexible packaging market has taken off due to a shift towards sustainability and consumer-friendly packaging. The adoption of flexible packaging is growing amongst manufacturers due to the ability to form flexible packaging on the spot from raw materials – saving time, cost, materials waste, and space. With advances in the recyclability and space savings when discarded compared to rigid packaging, consumers are developing a growing preference for flexible packaging options while the entire supply chain from manufacturer to retailer to consumer is realizing the extended shelf life benefits of innovative resealable closures.
Who: CPG and pharmaceutical manufacturers are responding to consumer demands by innovating with flexible packaging options for their products.
Industries of Interest: Food, Beverage, Pharmaceutical, Nutraceutical, Personal Care
• Convenient packaging, excellent barrier properties, and sustainable materials are all factors contributing to the continued growth of flexible packaging in the coming years, ProFood World (https://www.profoodworld.com/bi-library-article/us-flexible-packaging-reach-392-billion-2023?oly_enc_id=8131B4747801B1S)
• Growth of flexible packaging brings demand for innovation, Packaging World (https://www.packworld.com/growth-flexible-packaging-brings-demand-innovation)
• Seafood to drive growth in the converted flexible packaging sector through 2023, Seafood Source (https://www.seafoodsource.com/news/processing-equipment/seafood-to-drive-growth-in-the-converted-flexible-packaging-sector-through-2023)
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Step one of a manufacturer’s game plan for packaging compliance is to understand your manufacturing code and print application requirements, in order to pick the product identification solution that is best for your needs.
What kind of information needs to be included in your print message? In many cases, especially in food and beverage, consumer-readable information must be included for buyers to determine freshness. In other instances, government and global regulatory agencies have set the requirements for manufacturers to adhere to. In order to meet packaging compliance, manufacturers may need specific product information, manufacturing codes, and barcode information, including:
Once specific print requirements and message placement are determined, manufacturers should also consider their application specifications. What type of packaging substrate does a manufacturer’s product or products use? What other processes in your material handling are occurring to take into consideration? And what kind of line speeds are they trying to achieve?
It will be important to understand which criteria your application falls under for a marking and coding partner to best match you with a solution that will deliver your desired results.
After determining the print requirements and application specifications, manufacturers can look at the available product identification solutions and select a technology that is right-sized for their material handling set-up.
A full portfolio range of product identification solutions are available to manufacturers including:
The tables below show how each type of product coding technology is suited to fill specific manufacturer print and application requirements.
In order to achieve packaging compliance, it’s necessary to pick the best marking and coding technology for the product in question. By taking the time to understand print message and application requirements, manufacturers can begin to compare compatible product identification methods and equipment.
Picking the best product identification solution is one step in a multi-step process to achieve packaging compliance. After the information has been applied to your product, message validation is the next step.
Ensuring manufacturing codes are printed on products is not enough by itself to achieve packaging compliance. The codes need to be validated to make sure they are present, accurate, and scannable.
There have been many advancements in product identification and machine visioning technology that have enabled manufacturers to automate the monitoring of real-time print quality. Scanners and vision systems are common components added to the production line postprint to inspect and report any illegible codes or incorrect stock.
Manufacturers know their requirements best, and working with a partner that offers a portfolio of all types of product coding technology will give you a fair assessment of the best solution for your needs. It’s also wise to choose someone who can provide support beyond installation for maintenance and servicing as age and wear and tear occur on your equipment. A reliable partner will also provide training for your maintenance staff should you choose to be as self-sufficient as possible.
However, there are still more steps to ensure manufacturers achieve packaging compliance.
Learn more about the other key considerations Diagraph recommends for guaranteeing packaging compliance:
Shipping products using wood packaging and dunnage between countries is a process regulated by the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC). Wooden materials like pallets and crates can potentially carry diseases or insects from one country into another where an infestation would negatively impact the ecosystem. Composed of 175 member countries, the IPPC has established requirements around the treatment of wood packaging leaving and entering their countries to prevent infestations that could be harmful to their local plant life.
According to International Standards For Phytosanitary Measures No. 15 (ISPM 15), wood materials greater than 6mm in width require debarking and heat treatment or methyl bromide fumigation. If heat treated, the wood pallet must be treated for at least 30 minutes and maintain a core temperature of 133° F. After the heat treatment or fumigation, pallets must then be stamped or branded with a compliance mark. Exceptions to this process include products made from an alternative material, like paper, plastic, plywood, particle board or fiberboard.
To indicate proper heat treatment or methyl bromide fumigation with wood pallets, a 2” stamp of compliance is required. The mark consists of: a tree symbol, country code, producer code and treatment code. This compliance stamp is required on every 24 inches along the pallet.
Non-compliance may result in shipments being rejected by customs, resulting in costly fees associated with the re-export of the goods for the importer.
ISPM15 pallet marking requirements are commonly met with the use of stamp rollers, stencils or hot branders. Whether manual or automated, these techniques are costly, consume considerable electricity and are potential fire hazards.
A more efficient alternative to hot branders or stencils is automated high resolution inkjet coding. This method of applying the ISPM 15 mark has proven successful amongst lumber suppliers and created third party approved ISPM 15 marks. High resolution inkjet creates a durable 2” mark that can withstand the heat or methyl bromide treatments pallets must be put through. With mark legibility as a priority for pallet manufacturers to maintain compliance, inkjet marks created with a lightfast ink satisfy readable compliance standards just as well as heat branded marks or stencils. As an added benefit, inkjet technology has the potential to create variable codes for shipping facility locations or manufacturing date codes. To achieve variable codes with stamps, stencils or hot branders would require investing in a unique and expensive coder.
Our Product Identification Experts at Diagraph – a leading provider of marking and coding solutions to satisfy traceability requirements – have experience working with pallet suppliers and are available to help you strategize the best ways to achieve compliance in your pallet production. Call us today at 1.800.722.1125 for more information on high resolution inkjet technologies.
No longer is it the case that snacks are packaged specifically for children’s lunch boxes. Today, the snack market is heavily geared towards adults with 94% of adults snacking at least once a day and 50% snacking 2 to 3 times a day.* Snack producers are tasked with changing traditional packaging to address a different kind of consumer.
To stay on top of fluctuating snack market trends, food companies find they need to develop new packaging such as single-serve packs, convenient on-the-go solutions, and sustainable “green” packaging. Aside from creating a trendy and appealing packaging aesthetic, snack packaging frequently requires variable codes such as “Best By” or expiration dates. With consumers growing more and more health-conscious, some code requirements include allergen information, genetic modification information, and country of origin.
Many snack food companies make use of continuous ink jet (CIJ) printing technology to meet these coding requirements. CIJ is cost- effective and has a wide range of fluids to ensure coding adhesion and legibility on both porous and non-porous packaging like cardboard, plastics, metal, glass, or flexible packaging. At a minimum, your CIJ equipment must be able to produce legible and durable date, lot, and identification codes on a variety of substrates. However, there are other key features to look for when selecting a continuous ink jet printer to keep your snack packaging operations in uptime by minimizing maintenance and human errors including:
Given the wide variety of packages and product types at snack food manufacturers, the flexibility offered by CIJ is also considered an appealing benefit. Leading systems’ printheads can be used in any orientation with 360 degree printhead positioning and many can be moved from line to line to accommodate many shapes, sizes, and levels of packaging.
Diagraph offers the Linx 8900 Series CIJ printers to help our customers produce a long lasting, quality mark on a variety of packaging materials. The 8900 Series is designed with many smart, easy-to-use features to keep your production line up and running. Live chat with one of our equipment specialists to learn more. Or, read up on the latest innovations in snack food packaging in our latest whitepaper.
2018: Innovations in Snack Food Packaging
Increasing in popularity among big box chains is retail-ready packaging (RRP). A retail-ready package refers to secondary packaging that is branded appropriately to be able to move to retail shelves in a quick, “one touch” movement. RRP should be intentionally designed to self-contain individually packaged products, this eliminates the need for stock workers to unpack and individually display each product. This comes as a huge advantage to the big box retailers like Walmart or Kroger, because it reduces labor by cutting out the need for workers to unpack or hang individually packaged items. Effort is reduced to five simple phases: pack, ship, stock, display, shop.
For the manufacturers or co-packers packaging the product, the challenge of retail ready packaging is having the corrugate case function as both a shipping case and display piece. Considerations here would be having product flavor and count information, SKUs, barcodes, lot codes and expiration dates visible while creating a package that is appealing to consumers on a marketing level. Making the switch to RRP may be an investment, but it has been proven to pay off in terms of keeping good relationships with big box retailers like Walmart. Simply put: If you make your product easy to stock, retailers will continue to stock it again and again.
The key characteristics of retail-ready packaging are:
Changes in the market are directly influencing the rise manufacturers are seeing in the demand for RRP. As larger chains begin to open smaller, neighborhood stores with fewer employees, the speed in which products can get to shelves grows in importance. The Millennial generation is also waiting until later in life to begin having a family, so smaller portioned packaging continues to be purchased far more often. Millennials are also drivers of online grocery shopping fulfillment. Well-implemented retail-ready packaging makes it easier for the warehouse staff fulfilling the online orders to quickly identify and select the correct items to ship out.
For these reasons and many others, retail-ready packaging is a strategy for retailers to boost sales. In order to move more product, this means your packaging production will have to appease retail distributors while still meeting coding and labeling requirements for consumers and traceability. Our experts can help you strategize your operations around this RRP trend. Reach out to us today to discuss what we’re seeing in the retail market and how we can partner with you to make a retail-ready packaging strategy a profitable endeavor for your company.