Trim Your Waste & Maximise Your Productivity – Go Lean With Your Coding and Marking

The UK manufacturing industry is extremely competitive, especially amidst a cost-of-living crisis. It’s increasingly important for producers to evaluate their processes and ensure that their lines are running as smoothly and efficiently as possible, in order to generate the best possible profit.

Coding and marking is an essential function for any company producing goods destined for consumers and therefore shouldn’t be overlooked. Just because the process is working, doesn’t mean that it can’t be improved, and made leaner.

By going lean with their coding and marking, many manufacturers have boosted their productivity, welcomed cost-savings and even improved their sustainability credentials – a key factor for many consumers when making a purchase decision.

Here are some things every manufacturer should address to go lean with their coding and marking:

Unnecessary Processes

Is there anything within the coding process that is currently being done by hand, that could be automated?

Off-line coding systems offer a great half-way house between manually coding and complete automation. They allow flat-form packaging, such as cartons and sleeves to be coded and/or labelled in a quick and reliable way. You just stack the product in the hopper and watch as it is automatically fed under the printer, labeller or both, before being returned to a stack, ready for operator removal.

Labels, while a vital addition to some packaging, aren’t always necessary, especially on boxes or outer cases used for shipping. Large area printers can print the information typically carried on a label, directly to the box itself, including readable 1D and 2D barcodes.

By printing directly to the box, you save on consumables, printing, and the need for an application system. With the ability to print a barcode to the required standard, the savings of direct box printing can be substantial.

Coding errors

When a pack is incorrectly coded, or is carrying an illegible code, it causes huge problems for the manufacturer. In the worst case scenario, the products will have reached the shelves before the error is brought to light. This usually means costly product recalls – not just in terms of money, but time and damage to the brand’s reputation, especially if the misprinted code compromises the safety of the product.

Even if the error is spotted early, the affected packs will be wasted, and more will need to be produced and coded to take their place.

By reducing the likelihood of any errors or misprints occurring, by implementing clever code automation software and reliable, high-quality printers, you are taking the measures needed to ensure your production line is as efficient and lean as possible.


As the old saying goes, “time is money” and that is definitely the case when it comes to manufacturing. Every time a line stops unexpectedly due to a fault or coder issue, there will be a financial hit.

Coding technologies vary hugely in terms of maintenance and upkeep. Generally speaking, the more complex the equipment and the more components it has, the more scope there is for things to go wrong – it will also require more maintenance and, scheduled or not, this is still downtime to account for.

The cost of maintenance – TIJ vs CIJ

Start-up and shut-down time should also be a consideration. The time spent waiting for a printer to boot up or shut down soon adds up. Some technologies, such as thermal inkjet, can start printing within moments of being switched on, you just click in the cartridge and go.


Lastly, overproduction. Generally caused by the above.

When you produce more product than is actually required, you waste valuable production time and use up more storage space for the excess stock. When dealing with products that have a shorter shelf-life, such as dairy and meat items, there’s also the risk of the products going bad before they can be sold.

If you are guilty of making more than you need, you need to ask why. Are you overcompensating for a high reject rate on your line? If so, what is the root cause of these coding errors? By eliminating the chance of the errors occurring in the first place, you eliminate the need to overproduce.

Overproduction could also be occurring due to equipment being left to run all day because of excessive start up and shut down procedures. If this is the case, this could be addressed by switching to technology which can start up/shut down instantaneously so that it’s only used to meet production quotas and no more.

With our wealth of industry knowledge and experience, we can help you to assess and ultimately, improve your coding and marking processes to be as lean as possible, maximising profits and reducing waste. Contact us for more information.