When it comes to operating a manufacturing facility, there are a lot of costs to consider. Certain elements, like building rent, taxes, and insurance, maintain stable pricing year-round. They carry fixed costs that are relatively simple to calculate in a budget. However, other essential factors are more prone to variability.
Elements like raw materials costs, packaging expenses, and shipping fees are all subject to change, especially in regards to operational expansion or contraction. Given how variable costs can be altered over time, facility managers are constantly looking for ways to make their operations more economical. One of the most frequent areas of interest here is regarding labor costs.
Managers can spend hours calculating direct labor costs in search of ways to maximize operational profits. Common strategies include providing better employee training, enhancing worker safety, and, especially, streamlining production processes. On this last point, one of the most effective ways to improve operational efficiency is to automate product and package labeling. By eliminating hand-labeling, managers can reduce manual labor needs and allow workers to focus on other important tasks.
Here’s how to reduce labor costs in manufacturing with the help of automated labeling technology:
1. Streamline the Labeling Process to Reduce Physical Labor Needs
When manufacturing operations are in their initial growth stages, hand-labeling is a cost-effective manner of achieving code compliance. Regardless of whether a company is packaging food, bottling beverages, or developing electronics, supply chain partners and regulatory bodies alike require that products feature traceable codes on their packaging. Consequently, businesses must find a way to apply barcodes, serial numbers, batch codes, and more upon their goods, as well as appropriately label their packages for shipping.
Hand-labeling requires no hardware investments and allows for an easy way to apply all necessary codes in a single motion. However, as companies grow and output increases, hand-labeling becomes less and less cost-effective. For example, if a growing business only needs to label around 100 products, the task can be completed in around an hour. When the product number reaches around 500, it can take up the majority of a worker’s shift.
Businesses looking for how to reduce labor costs in manufacturing can greatly reduce labeling time by integrating an automatic labeler into their operation. Machines like continuous inkjet and thermal inkjet printers are able to directly mark products with required codes at fast speeds, streamlining the overall process. With less time and effort spent on labeling, companies can discover more efficient ways to use their labor resources.
2. Increase Facility Productivity By Freeing Worker Time
By automating the labeling process, companies can significantly reduce the time workers spend doing hands-on packaging work. Not only does this lower the labor cost associated with packaging, but it also allows workers to complete other meaningful tasks or learn new skills.
Although hand-labeling is essential to many operations, it is purely a mechanical action that nearly any employee can complete. Using a printer like the Anser Pro-S or Anser X1 reduces labeling time from a matter of hours to a matter of minutes (depending on operational needs, of course) enabling workers to focus on other important actions like:
New skill development
By expanding worker capabilities, operations can achieve more without expanding their staff.
3. Minimize Scannability Problems by Standardizing the Labeling Process
When companies need to hand-label hundreds of products per day, time consumption isn’t the only problem—the potential for human error is also substantial. Simple mistakes like applying the wrong label to a product or placing the correct label in the wrong place can cause major supply chain problems—shipments may be returned, deadlines could be missed, and expensive fines could be in order. Further, the larger a company’s hand-labeled output is, the higher this risk becomes.
Fortunately, companies can avoid these expensive problems by utilizing an inkjet printer, a high-resolution case coder, or a print-and-apply labeler. Depending on which technology is chosen, companies are able to:
Greatly Reduce the Possibility of Human Error: Inkjet printers like the DuraCode Touchscreen and case coders like the Precision Series 72 can directly print labels onto product surfaces. These machines utilize quality inks and are powered by reliable software allowing for a high level of consistently readable codes.
Automatically Detect Non-Conforming Products with Vision Systems: While automated labelers greatly reduce the possibility of mistakes, printing errors are still always a possibility. For extra protection, companies can utilize vision systems alongside their printers. Vision systems automatically inspect codes to ensure that they are clear, correct, and machine-scannable:
Achieve A or B-Level Barcodes (Print-and-Apply Labeler-Specific): Barcode scannability is rated on a scale of A to F. When printing on an off-white surface with black ink (e.g., direct printing on corrugated cardboard), the best possible scannability grade is C. However, some major retail channels require a grading of A or B. Print-and-apply labelers like those made by EvoLabel® precisely place high-contrast black text/white background labels onto material surfaces, ensuring A/B level scannability.
Researching How to Reduce Labor Costs in Manufacturing? We Have Answers
Automated labeling technology empowers companies to streamline their packaging operations. By reducing labor needs, freeing worker time, and minimizing printing mistakes, automated labelers give businesses the tools they need to reduce labor costs over time. Although the technology does carry a larger upfront cost compared to hand-labeling, long-term operational savings are all but guaranteed.
Here at InkJet, Inc, we carry a diverse portfolio of printing technologies ranging from continuous inkjet and thermal inkjet printers to high-resolution case coders and print-and-apply labelers. With these product offerings, we can help you reduce operational costs and accelerate cycle times. Call us today to find out how we can optimize your operation.