15 Barcode Labeling Tips to Make Your Life Easier

January 22, 2019 |

Businesses are continually challenged with implementing new strategies and tactics to improve their operations. Often times, the mission critical operation of barcode labeling is overlooked during these times of evaluation, however implementing best practices to your labeling environment can result in substantial cost savings and efficiency gains. Here are 15 barcode labeling tips your company can implement to achieve faster print speeds, reduce errors, standardize processes, prepare for the future, and just make labeling easier.

  1. Optimize software to printer communication

It’s difficult to work efficiently without clear communication in any setting. When your label printer and design software don’t communicate efficiently, it slows down your whole process. To ensure smooth label printing, leverage native printer drivers and printer resident fonts. TEKLYNX native printer drivers ensure crystal clear communication by using the native language of the printer. With “What You See Is What You Get” WYSIWYG label printing, you can design and print quickly. Additionally, leverage printer resident fonts, which are fonts installed on the printer instead of on the computer. When using non-printer resident fonts, letters and numbers are sent as font images, which increases the amount of data transferred during print time.

  1. Set up forms for print users

Utilizing forms in your printing process can help you move quickly while also reducing errors by keeping all data in a central location. Variable data is entered at the time of the print job and can help to avoid unintended edits to your label design. TEKLYNX’ label design software, CODESOFT, comes with form designer tools you can leverage to implement this best practice into your company’s labeling process.

  1. Print from the internet

Using a browser printing interface to print labels bypasses the need to open the label design software. This enables users to find the correct label by typing in a unique identifier for the label like a part number or work order number, or by scanning a barcode. The labeling system then gathers the necessary information from the connected data sources and routes the print job to the printer. Browser-based printing makes it easy to integrate supplier networks in your labeling process and enables printing on a global scale, creating further ease in supply chain labeling.

print-from-internet

  1. Create database-driven label templates

Manually entering data, text, or images on your labels – even when done carefully – often leads to costly labeling errors. By creating database-driven smart label templates, manually entering data becomes a thing of the past. With your pre-existing database, you can create variable data fields on your label and connect them to relevant fields within your database. The print user then selects the correct database record and prints, eliminating potential human errors.

  1. Use data validation to prevent printing if there’s an error

Checking data quality and accuracy before using it is a critical factor when determining the usefulness of data. By using data validation in your labeling process, users are forced to enter data in a specific format. A good example of this is a date formatted as MM/DD/YYYY, or a phone number as (###) ###-####. Setting up your label templates to not allow printing if the data can’t be validated is a good way to reduce waste and time spent re-printing labels.

  1. Maintain records of the label design and printing process

The best way to track down an error is to retrace your steps to the beginning of the process. Records assist with label traceability and can help prevent future errors by pinpointing the exact moment a mistake was made. If an incorrect label is printed, you have the power to identify by whom the incorrect label was designed, who approved it, and when it was printed. Having records of your labels also gives visibility into which products are affected and how to quickly identify them in case of recall.

  1. Define user roles

Defining user roles in your labeling process distributes accountability of who designs, who approves, and who prints your labels. Designers have permission to create new labels and make changes to the design. Approvers can approve or deny the label, but cannot make any edits. Print users can only print labels and cannot approve, deny, or make label changes. Having straightforward user roles is a key best practice when standardizing your labeling process.

  1. Set up an approval process

Further standardize your labeling process by setting up label approval rules and have them be enforced. A common labeling process looks like this: a product manager designs the first draft of the label. A compliance specialist approves or denies it for regulation agreement. A marketing manager then reviews the label for appropriate branding. Finally, a production line worker prints the label. Leverage label security and traceability software to streamline your label approval process and simplify touch points with various departments within your company.

approval-process

  1. Integrate labeling software with hardware

Easily automate steps in the labeling process by integrating your hardware with your labeling software. Connect a scale to your computer and automatically send the weight of the product directly to the label in the label software. For a scanner, just print a barcode on an order sheet and have a user scan it into a database; the database will ensure the correct record is selected. If your company uses scales, scanners, PLC’s (Programmable Logic Controllers), keyboards, printers, or virtually any other device that can communicate through a serial port, USB port, or TCPIP, you have the potential to standardize your labeling process by integrating these tools with your labeling software.

  1. Utilize multi-user network licensing

If you have multiple users leveraging labeling software, a network license installed on a server will save costs and add efficiency. A network license is installed on one server and is pushed out to each computer, eliminating the need to install and update each license on each individual computer. Network licenses also make IT maintenance easier, setting your company up for future success simply by being connected on a network.

  1. Print documents and labels from the same application

If your order receipts, bills of materials, or packing lists all contain the same data as your labels, moving document printing to your label design software just makes sense. TEKLYNX label design software CODESOFT enables label and document printing standardization by allowing multiple database records to be on one file, saving time by printing from one application. By consolidating your printing processes, you start saving time (instead of wasting it!).

  1. Stay up to date across the board

When you update your operating system (OS), it’s important to take your labeling software and hardware into consideration. It’s possible that an OS update could result in issues or incompatibility with ancillary systems, for example labeling software that was developed for Windows 10 may not work on a machine running Windows XP. Keeping all systems updated can keep your company running smoothly.

  1. Centralize label file storage

Storing label files on different machines across multiple locations can result in a frustrating and time-consuming process to find the right label. An easy fix is to store all your label files in one centralized location. To achieve this, you could choose to utilize network licensing which updates label files on a centralized server rather than on individual machines. Another solution is implementing a central repository, which prevents storing label files on separate machines as well as disparate files and updates.

  1. Standardize on one brand and version of software

By standardizing your company’s barcode labeling software across brands and versions, you eliminate the frustration caused by inconsistencies within the network. To ensure that your labels can be successfully opened, viewed, edited, and printed by everyone involved in the labeling process, use the same brand and version of barcode labeling software. For instance, label files are not backwards compatible, so if a label file is saved in a newer version of TEKLYNX LABELVIEW, that same file cannot be opened by another user with an older version of LABELVIEW, resulting in confusion and wasted time.

  1. Print from your business system

Integrating labeling with your ERP or business system makes printing easy, minimizes errors, and provides the fastest label printing speeds. This is because you can print directly from your respective system without opening the label design software. Printing can be triggered by scanning a barcode, adding a record to a database, or using a scale to weigh a product. No matter what method you use, automated printing is guaranteed to make your labeling process more efficient.

Source: TEKLYNX Americas

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Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH)

Supplier Requirement: Provide a statement of compliance to current REACH regulations. If there are items provided that are out of compliance please list the item number, the substance, and the concentration (w/total w)%. REACH is a regulation of the European Union that addresses the production and use of chemical substances and their potential impacts on both human health and the environment by requiring companies to communicate information on chemicals up and down the supply chain. All companies manufacturing or importing chemical substances in the European Union in quantities of one metric ton or more per year are required to register these substances with a European Chemicals Agency to ensure that manufacturers, importers, and customers are aware of information on the health and safety of the products supplied. Under REACH, no item may exceed 0.1% by weight threshold of any chemical substances listed on REACH’s SVHC (substances of very high concern) (this list is accessible at the link below). Products exported to the EU must be in full compliance with REACH. However, items defined as “articles” (objects that during production are given a special shape, surface or design that determines its function to a greater degree than does its chemical composition) in REACH are exempt from registration.

SVHC List: SVHC LIST

For more information on REACH, visit https://www.hse.gov.uk/reach/about.htm

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Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive

Supplier Requirement Please provide a declaration stating compliance to current RoHS directive standards. If necessary list the nonconforming item numbers, the chemical, and its concentrations.

The Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive aims to restrict certain hazardous substances commonly used in the manufacture of various types of electronic and electrical equipment, which links it with the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE) 2002/96/EC. The hazardous substances under RoHS, which any RoHS-compliant component is tested for, are lead (Pb), mercury (Hg), cadmium (Cd), hexavalent chromium (Cr^8+), polybrominated biphenyls (PBB), polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE), bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP) dibutyl phthalate (DBP) and diisobutyl phthalate (DIBP). The maximum permitted concentrations of these substances in products subject to RoHS compliance are 0.1% or 1000 parts-per notation (ppm) by weight, besides cadmium, which is 0.01% or 100 ppm. Businesses that sell applicable or electronic products, equipment, sub-assemblies, cables, components or spare parts directly to RoHS-directed countries, or sells to resellers, distributors or integrators that in turn sell products to these countries, are impacted if they utilize any of these (10) restricted substances.

For more information on RoHS, visit https://www.rohsguide.com/

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California Proposition 65

Supplier Requirement: Please provide a declaration stating compliance to current Proposition 65 standards. If necessary list the nonconforming item numbers the chemical, and its concentrations.

Proposition 65, officially known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, is administered by California/EPA’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) to protect California’s drinking water sources from becoming contaminated with toxic chemical substances known to cause cancer and birth defects. An official list of such substances is made publicly available showing regulated substances’ known risk factors, a unique CAS chemical classification number, the date they were listed, and, if so, whether they have been delisted. The first requirement of Proposition 65 prohibits businesses from knowingly discharging listed substances into drinking water sources, or onto land where the substances can pass into drinking water sources. The second requirement prohibits businesses from knowingly exposing individuals to listed substances without providing a clear and reasonable warning. Ultimately, the law requires companies to notify California about significant amounts of chemicals in products they manufacture; not to control what businesses are putting in their products, but to allow Californians to make informed choices about the products they buy and use.

For more information on California Proposition 65, visit https://oehha.ca.gov/proposition-65

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North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

Supplier Requirement: Please provide either a NAFTA Certificate of Origin or a Manufacturer’s Affidavit that declares the HTS designation and the Country of Origin.

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is an agreement signed by Canada, Mexico, and the United States that aims to reduce or eliminate barriers to trade and investment (i.e. non-tariff trade barriers) and to protect the intellectual property rights on traded products. Under NAFTA, producers may export their goods to customers in Canada or Mexico duty-free as long as the goods are comprised of mostly U.S. components. To certify that goods qualify for preferential tariff treatment accorded by NAFTA, a Certificate of Origin must be completed legibly and in full by the exporter and must be in possession of the importer at the time the declaration is made. This document may also be completed voluntarily by the producer for use by the exporter. Exporters who are not producers often request that their producers or distributors provide them with a Certificate of Origin as proof that the final good, or an input used in the manufacture of the final good, meets the rules of origin for exportation to Canada or Mexico. NAFTA does not obligate a producer who is not an exporter to provide the final exporter with a Certificate of Origin. However, if the non-exporting producer does complete the Certificate of Origin, they are subject to the same obligations regarding record.

For more information on NAFTA compliance, visit https://www.cbp.gov/trade/nafta

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Supplier Requirement: Please complete the most recent Conflict minerals Reporting Template found at: http://www.responsiblemineralsinitiative.org/conflict-minerals-reporting-template/?

The term “Conflict Minerals” refers to minerals and other derivatives mined in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and in adjoining countries where revenues from mining may directly, or indirectly, finance armed groups engaged in civil war, resulting in serious abuses of human rights. To hold companies accountable for buying raw materials from these areas that aid corrupt militias, and to mitigate the chance that the minerals purchased by companies are funding military conflict, the U.S. Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Law was passed in 2010. The law requires U.S. publicly traded companies to evaluate their product lines to determine whether they contain any “conflict minerals”, and if they do, to disclose any of the minerals necessary to the functionality or production of products they manufacture or contract to the manufacture. The minerals covered by this law (collectively referred to as “3TG”) are tantalum (Ta), tin (Sn), tungsten (W) and gold (Au). Companies using such minerals must also disclose their supply chain inquiries to verify whether these minerals originated in the DRC or adjoining countries.

For more information on 3TG Conflict Minerals, visit http://www.responsiblemineralsinitiative.org/about/faq/general-questions/what-are-conflict-minerals/

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CONEG-Toxics in Packaging Legislation

Supplier Requirement: Please certify that materials provided to Lofton Label Inc. comply with the Coalition of Northeastern Governors Toxics in Packaging Legislation.

The Toxics in Packaging Legislation was established by the Coalition of Northeastern Governors (CONEG) to reduce the amount of lead, cadmium, hexavalent chromium and mercury in packaging and to keep packaging components from entering landfills, waste incinerators, recycling streams and ultimately the environment. The law requires manufacturers to certify that none of the regulated metals were intentionally added to any products during the manufacturing process, and that the sum of the incidental concentration levels present in any product does not exceed 100 ppm by weight (CONEG model limit). The law also requires certificates of compliance to be completed by manufacturers and furnished to state agencies (and to the public upon request), but does allow for certain exemptions that must be approved by individual states. This law is desirable because manufacturers that comply with regulation meet the growing consumer demand for eco-friendly products, while minimizing the hazardous impact of products upon the environment and society.

For more information on CONEG Toxics in Packaging Legislation, visit https://www.bureauveritas.com/services+sheet/toxics-in-packaging_14479?presentationtemplate=bv_master_v2/Services_sheet_full_story_presentation_v2

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Bisphenol A (BPA), a building block of several important polymers and polymer additives used in the production of polycarbonates, is widely used in manufacturing polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins used in nearly every industry. BPA is suspected to have adverse health effects as a reproductive, developmental and systemic toxicant that is weakly estrogenic, giving it a potential to impact children’s health. There has also been environmental concern over the risk posed by BPA leaching into landfills and bodies of water, consequently affecting the food chain. Due to the various risks associated with BPA, registrants of BPA must demonstrate the safety of BPA and BPA-based materials for human health and the environment. Downstream users must inform registrants about the way they use BPA, to allow registrants to prepare a realistic exposure scenario for each specific use of BPA. Regulations concerning BPA continue to evolve as governments at every level attempt to address public concern and take varying scientific assessments into account.

For more information on BPA and statements identifying any instances of BPA, visit https://www.epa.gov/assessing-and-imagining-chemicals-under-tsca/risk-management-bisphenol-bpa

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Statement identifying any instances of Natural Rubber Latex

Supplier Requirement: Please provide a declaration letter identifying that no natural rubber latex or synthetic rubber latex is found in any of the items provided to Lofton.

According to FDA regulation, labeling statements that include the latex content of the product packaging as well as the product itself are required on products containing latex, since repeated or prolonged exposure to natural rubber latex can result in the development of allergies or sensitivity to natural rubber latex, generally in the form of skin-site reactions. If latex is present in production, the extent to which natural rubber latex is used in the manufacture of the product must be defined. In light of the concerns surrounding latex, some manufacturers have taken to labeling products as “latex-free” or indicating that the product “does not contain natural rubber latex”. However, this labeling suggests that products are completely without natural rubber latex, which is problematic because (1) there is always a chance that products were contaminated with latex allergens during the manufacturing process, and (2) the FDA is unaware of any test method capable of detecting and confirming the complete absence of latex proteins capable of causing allergic reactions. The statement “not made with natural rubber latex” should be used only if neither natural rubber latex nor synthetic natural rubber latex derivatives were used to manufacture a product. Qualifications are necessary if the product, its packaging or its container use natural rubber latex or its derivatives. In such cases, the manufacturer should state which component is not made of natural rubber latex. Products currently labeled with “latex-free” statements should update their labeling to adopt FDA’s recommendations.

For more information on Natural Rubber and Latex and statements identifying any instances of Natural Rubber and Latex, visit https://www.raps.org/regulatory-focus™/news-articles/2014/12/does-this-product-contain-latex-fda-adopts-new-labeling-recommendations