10th April. Posted in Insights.

As brands seek to compete in today’s omnichannel retail world, the pressure to operate slick supply chains that respond to market changes and consumer trends, while remaining highly efficient, is challenging even the most advanced operations. Couple this with the consumer’s increased awareness of packaging and supply chain sustainability and the focus has to be on driving operational efficiency with the planet front and foremost in considerations. Achieving highly responsive, sustainable supply chain performance is the key to securing competitive advantage, as well consumer loyalty and long-term business success.

Enter DataLase; a leading global supplier of laser coding and marking solutions for the corrugated packaging market. The DataLase Case Coding solution is a highly efficient and advanced method of applying variable information, such as barcodes, date & lot codes, QR codes, graphics and sequential batch numbers, onto corrugated boxes.

Combining novel laser technology with unique colour change pigments to create high resolution, high contrast print, DataLase delivers an inkless printing revolution to drive efficiency for corrugate converters and their brands.

Here we examine some of the key benefits the technology brings to the supply chain.

Sustainable labelling – no label backing waste

Typical print and apply, self-adhesive labels applied to corrugated boxes incorporate backing liners with a silicone release coating and are printed with labelling systems using thermal transfer ribbons. Both consumables consist of plastics, waxes and resins and are classed as multi-material. They are therefore non-recyclable and bring added complexity to a supply chain seeking to be plastic-free and truly sustainable.

In a full-scale production environment, label backing, and thermal ribbon waste, can result in thousands of metres of material being sent straight to incineration. In a simple example, for every one million 100x150mm (4” x 6”) shipping labels applied to boxes, this can equate to 300 kilometres of backing waste going to an incinerator or landfill.

The DataLase Case Coding solution is the viable alternative to print and apply labels, high-resolution inkjet and waxjet solutions, and beneficially eliminates this unnecessary waste and single use plastics from the supply chain.

Forget damaged labels

DataLase’s Case Coding technology delivers high contrast, high quality, durable codes that do not smudge or rub off, meaning less product recall and rework required when delivered to the retail store.

Print and apply labels can often be applied incorrectly – barcodes can be covered up by self-adhesive labels or creases can occur – making them impossible to read or process, leading to greater waste and reduced throughput.

Additionally, the DataLase solution is ideal for Shelf-Ready Packaging (SRP) that requires a tear-off perforation. It is not uncommon for a shipping label to be placed across the tear line; when a store employee attempts to open the box to place it on a shelf, the print & apply label doesn’t rip neatly. This can cause damage to the box, reducing its functionality and more importantly, its on-shelf appearance – an essential element for brands in today’s crowded retail space.

SKU rationalisation & inventory reduction

Product complexity and SKU proliferation are the greatest challenges to successful supply chain management, impacting significantly on the overall efficiency and effectiveness of order processing, purchasing, forecasting, manufacturing scheduling, quality and inventory management.

DataLase technology can be applied at the latest stage in the product supply chain, in other words, at the point of packing and filling, enabling the supply chain to be responsive and flexible to consumer demand without the additional waste and excessive SKUs this often brings.

Each individual box can be printed according to language, regulatory, nutritional, brand or geographical needs, minimising packaging production, shipment and storage, therefore lowering the associated carbon footprint. With DataLase, corrugated boxes no longer need to be stored for another day or re-labelled if there is a sudden change in requirements from the customer.

SKU rationalisation brings multiple benefits to a supply chain in its own right including, improved manufacturing efficiency thanks to reduced changeovers; reduced costs through better inventory management; reduced warehousing and logistics requirements due to more accurate planning and forecasting; ultimately, an improved bottom line due to a reduction in operational costs.

Improve air quality and remove consumables waste

Employing pre-printed laser reactive coatings and laser technology at the point of packing and filling, DataLase’s inkless Case Coding solution is completely unique in that all consumables, such as inks, solvents, thermal ribbons and cartridges, are removed from the production environment.

Not only does this reduce costs for manufacturers in both use and associated disposal, it also enhances health and safety. Traditional case printing techniques often use solvent-based inks, which evaporate and release harmful, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the atmosphere. With a pre-printed patch on each box, there’s no need for marking consumables such as inks in the actual coding process, meaning better air quality in the fulfilment hall and a cleaner overall operation. This is particularly advantageous in food and beverage production, as it helps to eliminate the likelihood of ink-related product contamination.

Improves Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE)

Overall Equipment Effectiveness is a measurement of manufacturing productivity, quantified by analysing availability, performance and quality. OEE measurement allows businesses to highlight areas of concern and implement remedial actions before they negatively impact the supply chain.

High OEE is vital for delivering customer satisfaction and maximising profitability within a fast turnaround, high frequency job landscape. Anything which minimises unscheduled downtime, requires minimal maintenance and increases throughput is a crucial component to delivering superior OEE performance.

The DataLase Case Coding solution ticks all the boxes for those operating on the production line when it comes to improving OEE.

Utilising laser technology rather than ink ensures speed, consistency and reliability, maximising production line uptime and reducing both planned and unplanned downtime – label reels don’t need to be changed and printing quality errors are virtually eliminated. The technology has been specially designed to minimise maintenance and servicing needs to boost production capabilities.

DataLase Case Coding solutions ensure that manufacturers and producers can deliver optimal performance from beginning to end. It delivers exceptional results for the modern production environment, which as a matter of course demands high Case Coding quality and exceptional levels of efficiency.