Sustainability in manufacturing: How to reduce waste in your coding & labelling process

Dec 01, 2022 by Mark Dingley

Reject mistakes. Every single time. Automatically.

More and more businesses are moving to sustainable manufacturing. You might be thinking about switching to more eco-friendly packaging materials or introducing on-pack recycling labels to help consumers recycle your product’s packaging properly.

But there’s another way to reduce waste in your manufacturing process: eliminate errors in product coding & labelling.

Imagine that a whole batch of products is labelled incorrectly. What if the faulty labelling or printing isn’t discovered for several hours, or worse, until the products have left your factory for the customer?

You can end up recalling, destroying or reworking thousands of products, which is not just costly, it’s unsustainable. Here’s how to minimise waste in your coding & labelling process, without slowing down your production.

Automated Labelling and Coding

Use automated labelling and coding software

The best way to eliminate incorrectly coded and packaged products is by stopping them from being created in the first place.

Manually entering data, text or images onto packaging or labels can quickly lead to mistakes. In fact, an operator can be expected to make an average of one mistake in every 300 touches. If they are coding & labelling hundreds or thousands of products, that’s a high risk of error.

And there are lots of errors that can be made.

Operators can select the wrong label for the wrong product, or enter incorrect information in the wrong label template.

Automated Labelling and Coding

Using a package code management system, you can eliminate operator data-entry errors through quick and easy message design and implementation for your labelling and coding. For example, Matthews iDSnet has a message design tool that makes it simple for operators to create and edit labels and inkjet formats, so errors can be spotted and corrected before they are printed.

iDSnet also helps ensure the right code is placed on the right product every time. It gives you a single source from which to draw on product information to create labels and codes, then manage label application or coding onto products. You can run all pieces of equipment – a coder, label printer applicator and barcode scanner – from one place, which is ideal if you have multiple manufacturing sites.

You can be confident that when product information has been updated in the central ERP/MRP system, the data will synchronise to iDSnet and cascade down to the packaging line. That way, products don’t wind up with the wrong information on their labels.

Matthews iDSnet


Automate inspection of codes and labels

Reduce the risk of errors making it to the final delivery truck by using automated inspection.

Automated inspection solutions can scan and check every single package and code using machine vision, and reject the packaging as soon as a mistake is detected. The inspection system will also alert the operator of the rejection, meaning the operator can get to work diagnosing and fixing the problem sooner.

Inspection technology can perform a range of checks, such as:

  • Ensuring every print is present, readable and accurate
  • Confirming the correct position of labels and data in printed messages and on packaging materials
  • Matching labels to other elements
  • Detecting seal defects and stamp deformations
  • Verifying quantity or fill levels of packaging contents

Our iDSnet print and barcode validation also helps businesses ensure the print presence of barcodes on labels is clear and accurate.

Learn the nine ways a label inspection system can ensure zero defects.

Automated Labelling and Coding

Check and maintain your coding & labelling equipment

You might do everything right in the package code management system but still end up with labels that don’t scan or product codes that are illegible.

The cause? Poorly maintained coding & labelling equipment.

Preventative maintenance helps you both prevent failure and pinpoint when equipment is about to fail, so you can schedule corrective maintenance repairs before errors happen.

Your equipment provider should help you create a planned maintenance program which includes regular tasks that can be taken care of by your team.

At Matthews Australasia, for example, customers who choose our Complete Care or Advanced Care programs benefit from a schedule of tasks to mitigate the top five causes of machine failure for coding, labelling and inspection equipment.

Our skilled technicians thoroughly conduct routine service procedures and inspect the equipment, replace consumable parts as needed, clean the equipment, and advise of any areas that could cause future breakdowns.

Over to you

Human error is inevitable. Waste doesn’t have to be. Start looking at your processes to work out how you can eliminate coding & labelling errors. It might mean investing in new or upgraded technology or improving your maintenance procedures. Either way, it’s not only the environment that will benefit, your bottom line will too.

Looking for more inspiration for your sustainability goals? Learn from these Australian companies.