A major noodle manufacturer requested ID Technology to supply a print applicator system that automatically assign and label pallets at four plants in the United States. ID Technology partnered with EBI to implement this system. The system involved using barcode and vision technologies in a multistep operation:
- Identify the product on pallets, traveling down a conveyor
- Label the pallet (with LPNs) using an automatic print and apply machine
- Verify the label on the pallet afterwards
- Reprint the label if the correct label failed to apply to the pallet
Save labor cost per production run: linked to automation equipment such as palletizers and pallet wrappers, production personnel can focus on managing the process not manually applying and checking labels.
Increase warehouse turns with faster product movement: using print applicators and barcode or RFID scanners in the warehouse help remove the labeling process bottleneck moving product faster into and through the warehouse.
Decrease label application error: a verification and reprint process help reduce errors and allows warehouse personnel to more easily and accurately fix label problems.
Artificial Intelligence, Machine Vision, and Rasterized Barcode Scanning
Barcode and vision technologies enabled accurate identification and verification processes. As the pallet entered the pallet wrapping station on a conveyor, Datalogic scanners identified the product on the pallet. For products that displayed a barcode on the outside of the pallet, we used industrial fixed position barcode scanners. For products without barcode, we deployed industrial vision technology to identify the product by its packaging (fonts, color, images, and text). By identifying the product before labeling, EPLS can accurately label the pallet.
With the product correctly identified, EPLS can generate and serialize the correct label. That label is printed by the IDT Print applicator and sits on the print applicator tamp pad, in the labeling station, ready to go by the time the pallet travels in front of it.
As the pallet exited the labeling station on the conveyor, the secondary scanner (typically barcode) looked to verify the successful application of the label on the side of the pallet. If the scanner detected the label missing, unreadable, or encoding the wrong information, EPLS prints a secondary label to appear near the end of they conveyor system. As the pallet exits the automated system waiting for pickup and storage in the warehouse, the forklift driver can easily pickup that reprinted label and apply it to the pallet with a missing or invalid label.
License Plate Number (LPN)
In addition to integrating with the product identification and label verification scanners, EPLS issues, stores, and shares the pallet unique identification numbers. Also known as “LPN” (License Plate Numbers), EPLS uses these unique values to create valid barcode or RFID labels. EPLS then sends the LPN serialized information back into the host WMS or ERP system which then updates inventory.
With each pallet labeled with an LPN, the warehouse management team can use mobile scanners to easily move and ship pallets of labels. Thus the WMS or ERP system gets fast accurate updates to the database indicating the exact status and location on inventory. With information updated quickly and automatically, pallets can move through inventory very quickly keeping inventory turns high on high volume product.
Now that EPLS helped to fully automate the production process, the client can keep inventory holding costs and production labor costs low. In the future, other automation technologies can be easily added to EPLS. This could include other identification technologies such as RFID (e.g. Radio Frequency Identification). Also, with applications like BreadCrumbs, we can integrate this data with WMS and/or EDI system to automate the creation and application of shipping labels.
- ProMach – ID Technology print applicator
- Sato America print engine
- Sigo Efficient Pallet Label System (EPLS)
- TEKLYNX CODESOFT Enterprise
- Datalogic Fixed Position Barcode Scanner and Vision Systems