Keeping up with the Joneses: global manufacturing best practices

Vision Systems and Integration

Want to keep your product—instead of your competitors’—on the shelf more consistently? Your competitive edge starts with understanding how retailers’ expectations, technology, and packaging processes are changing manufacturing in Australia—and around the world.

No retailer, manufacturer (or customer) wants products to turn up to shopfronts missing critical information like declared allergens. Recalls increase work, rework—& headaches—for everybody. Yet, labelling errors caused 33% of recalls between 2002-2011. So the question is: how many Australian manufacturers realise they can inexpensively avoid recalls?

When Retailers & Global Organisations “Got Tough” On Mislabelling

New regulations in food and drug safety now require Australian manufacturers to check all processes and systems more carefully. And a new consortium, The Food and Safety Alliance for Packaging (FSAP), was recently created to minimise mislabelling. Furthermore, ‘Leading organisations Woolworths, Coles, Metcash and Costco [now] support GS1 Recallnet, the industry’s tool for effective management of recall and withdrawal notifications’ to quickly and easily conduct recalls for non-shelf-ready products.

The market is demanding change and one technology that has evolved and responded is Machine Vision Inspection. Engineering advancements led to lower price points, and the immediate return on investment for manufacturers became even more obvious. Read more about the 5 Ways The Tech Industry Decreased Recalls & Packaging Errors.

Now, the best Vision Machine Systems (when well-integrated) check the entire elements of the package: from tamper seals to the correct number of perfect-looking cookies in each carton.

How Can Vision Technology Guarantee “Shelf-Ready” Products?

The combination of Machine Vision’s camera and software to monitor all elements of packaging means products are rejected in-line unless they are 100% shelf-ready. Machine Vision:

  1. Looks for all errors on the line;
  2. Integrates with your central control software (see iDSNet as an example);
  3. Picks up on inefficiencies and errors in real-time so you can not only stop the problem before it blows up in your face, but you can fix a problem permanently by uncovering the root cause.

Here’s an example: How An Australian Manufacturer Eliminated Recalls

Chris Dips had the problem of having workers on the line manually check the product for visual errors, from the right product in the right tub, to correct barcodes.

  • Going through the process of integrating Machine Vision technology with their production machinery, an accurate  check could be made on each tub and barcode to inspect that the right tub was being used for the product that was being filled.
  • By automating the quality of on-line checks, an alarm could sound, the line could be stopped, or the product rejected.
  • Immediately, Vision identified another issue that they were not even aware of: their supplier did not produce bar codes in consistent reliable print quality and contrast and were not GS1 compliant.
  • Now Chris’ Dips decreased risk of recalls, minimised their time off-shelf—and they were able to have their supplier fix the quality of the pre-printed bar codes on the tubs.

So Here’s Why You’ll Want To Keep Up With Global Manufacturing Best Practices (Or You’ll Miss Out)

Cost pressures and consumer demand has meant that retailers are now more “picky” with who shows up on their shelves; if you don’t meet the required standards for quality , you could “get the boot”. Australian retailers with larger market shares are the least forgiving of quality errors like mislabelling and poor product packaging.

Manufacturers must be willing to increase their quality standards. But the good news is, you can discover, like Chris Dips, that the cost of a machine vision system is a fraction of your potential yearly recall expenses.

Will you wait for your competitors to profit from the latest possibilities with Vision Technology (thereby securing relationships with retailers)—or do you want to get your foot in the door first?

Mark Dingley
Mark Dingley is Chairman of the Australian Packaging and Processing Machinery Association (APPMA) and is the CEO at Matthews Australasia. With 20+ years of experience in the product identification industry and the wealth of knowledge gained from working closely with industry associations in developing and implementing standards & best practice, Mark is able to assist manufacturers with a range of issues from getting real-time visibility of their production line, improving automation, establishing quality assurance using machine vision to selecting the best fit technology for coding and labelling applications. Mark Dingley's LinkedIn Profile
Mark Dingley

by Mark Dingley

Mark Dingley is Chairman of the Australian Packaging and Processing Machinery Association (APPMA) and is the CEO at Matthews Australasia. With 20+ years of experience in the product identification industry and the wealth of knowledge gained from working closely with industry associations in developing and implementing standards & best practice, Mark is able to assist manufacturers with a range of issues from getting real-time visibility of their production line, improving automation, establishing quality assurance using machine vision to selecting the best fit technology for coding and labelling applications. Mark Dingley's LinkedIn Profile

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