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Did you know that many retailers impose fees per incorrect label, such as $5 per unreadable barcode, or 200 EUR per shipment of products? If a vendor is issued a 15-20% chargeback for product label noncompliance, this could mean tens of thousands in losses! So, you get it. Barcode and label verification is a must. But, how can you make sure each label is 100% correct?

The risk of off-line only inspection?

Many manufacturers place their trust only on off-line label verification, for example with a handheld barcode verifier, to ensure label quality. They might believe that in-line inspection, where the print quality inspection system is integrated directly on the production line or printer, is not as reliable as off-line, due to uncontrolled barcode verification conditions. Off-line label spot-checking with a barcode verifier of course guarantees the quality of a new label to verification standards, but with off-line checks only, production operations are practically running blind.

What about catching individual errors that may occur during production, such as misprints, printer maintenance problems or debris causing blemishes, or sequential data printing errors?

There is a lot at stake when it comes to label quality. In addition to fines or rejected shipments, manufacturers have to take on the costs and other negative impacts resulting from process downtime, regulatory issues, and upset customers.

Even though high speed in-line print quality inspection systems don’t always operate under ideal controlled conditions for barcode verification, they can immediately identify barcode and print quality issues on each individual label, well before these will be caught by off-line spot checks.

The best of both worlds

Implementing both barcode and print quality verification systems in their operations will help manufacturers guarantee legibility and standards compliance, and keep any noncompliant labels out of the supply chain. For the leanest and meanest operations, verification should be incorporated wherever there is cost-savings potential. Time and material loss may occur at many stages in manufacturing operations due to label errors, even before the product is shipped to the customer.

Each type of inspection system has advantages depending on how it’s used. Without in-line inspection, the operator will have to stop the press to look for defects, wasting time and material. An in-line inspection system can identify print problems on a press moving at speeds of 500 – 1,500 fpm (152.4 - 457.2 m/min). Subsequent off-line inspection allows time to analyze what may be wrong with an image that has been flagged by the in-line system.

Download white paper

If you’re interested in learning more about the differences between in-line and off-line inspection, as well as the risks of off-line-only inspection, download our latest white paper “In-Line vs. Off-Line Label Inspection”.

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