Labeling goods received is an integral starting point for lot tracing capability.  A question that often arises is, “Should I scan my vendor labels?” The correct answer varies based on a few key considerations.

1. Are your vendor labels usable?

Do your vendors label product with GS1 labels? Do you receive catch (random) weight products? If so, you may be able to save the time and money associated with printing and affixing your own labels by using existing vendor labels. A GS1 label will provide key product information and will eliminate the need to manually input data like weight and lot number. Eliminating data entry not only saves you time and money, but will eliminate human error associated with manual systems.

If your vendor doesn’t label with GS1, you may approach them about changing their labeling practices to better suit your needs.

2.  How many vendors do you have?

If you have many vendors shipping products to your plant, you may find it difficult and labor-intensive to keep track of the different label styles and locations. Each label looks different, has different information encoded, and may be located in different places on the packaging. This can slow down the receiving process and make it difficult to train employees. If feasible, issuing labeling standards to associated vendors may help streamline the process.

Approaching several vendors with the possibility of label changes can be a difficult and slow process; sometimes it’s impossible to get them all on board with changes in a timely manner. In this case, you may want to consider printing labels in-house so each label has all the information you need, is easily recognizable, and is located in the same predictable spot on packaging.

Creating your own label will allow you to highlight the information that is most important in your operation, make it easier to train employees, and speed up label scanning as product moves through the plant.

Creating your own labels can have some drawbacks. Time and cost associated with the internal label process must be considered. In addition, pertinent information like lot code and expiration date would need to be keyed in, opening up the process to manual errors.

There are many factors to consider in determining an ideal labeling strategy. The professionals at ParityFactory can help walk you through the process. Contact us if you have any questions, we’d love to help!